The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, Xavier Becerra, recently addressed concerns about the timeline for the administrative review of marijuana scheduling. Becerra acknowledged the significant public interest in the issue and assured followers that the department is working to complete the assessment as soon as possible. However, he also noted that there are “a few hoops we need to jump through” before completing the review.
Becerra emphasized that the review will be guided by science and safety for Americans. He also added that the assessment will consider changes in what cannabis means to America since the early 1990s. It is worth noting that support for ending cannabis prohibition has increased significantly since the 1990s, with almost seven in ten Americans now supporting full legalization.
The FDA, under HHS, will conduct the review, and the findings will be “binding” insofar as the science is concerned. However, because scheduling decisions are covered by the Controlled Substances Act, the DEA makes the final call. The DEA could ultimately decide to keep marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
Bipartisan congressional lawmakers recently sent a letter to Becerra and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, demanding transparency in the cannabis scheduling review. The letter called for an honest assessment of the origins and implications of federal policy, noting that “marijuana was scheduled based on stigma not science” and that it’s time to address marijuana’s existing reality as a state-regulated substance.
In summary, the timeline for the administrative review of marijuana scheduling remains uncertain. While the HHS secretary has assured the public that the department is working on completing the assessment, several factors could impact the review’s outcome. Ultimately, the scientific findings will guide the decision, and the DEA will make the final call on marijuana’s scheduling status.
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