Shifting Tides: The Path to Cannabis Legalization in the U.S.
Traditionally, the United States has been at the forefront of enforcing cannabis prohibition globally, starting in the 1930s by banning its use, including for medicinal purposes, and pressuring other nations to adopt similar stances.
This has led to numerous international treaties that still enforce prohibition. However, countries like Uruguay and Canada have broken from this path, legalizing cannabis for both medical and recreational use.
While still illegal federally in the U.S., almost half the states have enacted laws permitting recreational cannabis, and almost all have some form of medical cannabis legislation. There's a growing consensus for nationwide legalization, with many expecting significant federal policy changes soon.
A key hope for reformers was the DEA's potential reclassification of cannabis from Schedule I, indicating substances with no accepted medical use and a high risk of abuse, to a less restrictive category.
Cannabis's current classification places it alongside drugs like heroin and LSD, which many argue is unjustified. Recent reports suggest the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recommended reclassifying cannabis to Schedule III, which includes drugs with a moderate to low dependency risk, such as certain codeine products, ketamine, and anabolic steroids, and has communicated this to the DEA, as revealed by Marijuana Moment.
Schedule III classification implies a lower abuse potential than Schedules I and II but higher than Schedule IV, which lists drugs like Xanax and Valium.
While many hoped for cannabis to be completely removed from the scheduling system, akin to tobacco and alcohol—which are not scheduled yet pose significant health risks—the DEA's final decision on this recommendation remains uncertain.
Source: International CBC