The Biden Administration Officially Moving to Reschedule Marijuana


President Joe Biden has announced that his administration is officially moving to reschedule marijuana under federal law, applauding the “monumental” action that follows an extensive administrative review that he directed.

“Today’s news is another important milestone in this very important process as we get closer to rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III,” says Matt Darin, CEO of Curaleaf. “This will unlock important research on the medical efficacy of cannabis and bring about real change for legal operators struggling under the burden of 280E taxes. Curaleaf applauds Biden and his administration for this action and remains committed to collaborating with regulatory authorities, industry members, and the broader community to ensure the responsible and sustainable growth of the cannabis sector.”

A senior administration official said on Thursday that the Justice Department will soon post its proposed rule to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in the Federal Register. There will then be a 60-day public comment period before the rule is potentially finalized.

Brady Cobb, CEO and founder of Sunburn Cannabis, comments, “This is one of the most historic moments in the decades-long fight to end the US government’s failed war on the cannabis plant. Cannabis has never belonged on Schedule 1 with drugs like cocaine and heroin or as President Biden noted on a more restrictive schedule than fentanyl, and the move to Schedule III is the first real step towards meaningful reform. A tremendous amount of work has been done by so many people, and while I’ve been critical of the Biden administration on the timing of this move, credit is due for actually making it happen. Onward.”

What Happens Next?

Vicente LLP states that the DEA’s proposed rule is expected to undergo a public comment period, after which it will issue a final rule based on HHS’s evaluation and recommendation, DEA’s own analysis, public comments and the record of any hearing it holds on the subject.

Milan Patel, CEO and Co-founder of PathogenDx, says, “Cannabis moving to Schedule III will trigger federal regulatory agencies to apply national standards to cannabis testing, as opposed to the kaleidoscope of regulations we have been dealing with across more than 30 states. This will allow good manufacturing practices to come into play throughout the whole supply chain and be taken seriously, ensuring the health and safety of patients and consumers, and setting the industry on a path for longevity and success.”

While this move is monumental, it’s not the end of the war on drugs. Federally, marijuana is still illegal. Participants in state cannabis markets would continue to run afoul of federal law and existing criminal penalties for certain marijuana-related activity would remain in force.

“It remains imperative for states to continue their efforts to legalize cannabis and for the federal government to take decisive action to fully deschedule cannabis. This decision may bring an end to certain regulatory burdens such as Section 280E, but its implications for the industry as a whole remain uncertain,” says American Cannabis Collective co-founder Gretchen Gailey.