DEA makes highly anticipated decision on rescheduling cannabis

dea cannabis

In a long-awaited historic move, the federal Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is set to reclassify cannabis. According to the Associated Press, the DEA will adopt the recommendation that cannabis be moved to Schedule III per a recommendation from the Health and Human Services Department (HHS). 

The recommendation will now be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). If that agency signs off, a public comment period will follow before the final rule is issued.

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Currently, cannabis is a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)—the same category as heroin, LSD, and MDMA. The CSA defines Schedule I drugs as having “no known medicinal value and a high potential for abuse.” 

Schedule III substances are defined as having a low to moderate risk of dependence and accepted medical use. Studies have shown that cannabis can be effective at easing a number of conditions, from epilepsy to chronic pain. These studies and more were cited in the original HHS recommendation as evidence marijuana should be rescheduled.

Moving cannabis to Schedule III puts the plant under the Food and Drug Administration’s purview. It’s unclear what the immediate impact of rescheduling will be for industry operators and consumers, but supporters of the move say Schedule III will remove undue tax burden and elevate the business.

“This is a historic day for cannabis,” said Joyce Cenali, co-founder of the Cannabis Media Council in a statement, who touted the removal of marketing restrictions and financial roadblocks.

Rescheduling is not without controversy as many advocates were hoping to see the DEA deschedule cannabis, removing it from the CSA entirely. This would have led to marijuana being regulated in the same way as alcohol and tobacco. Opponents fear that Schedule III will lead to pharmaceutical monopolies on the plant and will keep adult-use cannabis illegal.

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President Biden ordered a review of marijuana’s Schedule I status in August 2022. His administration has become increasingly vocal on the matter, many insiders predicted rescheduling in the lead-up to the 2024 presidential election.

The DEA announcement is groundbreaking, but there’s still a long way to go before the final decision. Americans on every side of the debate are encouraged to make their voice heard when the public comment period opens soon.


rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter