Rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under federal law is “not enough” as it “continues to misrepresent the plant’s safety relative to other controlled substances,” says the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).
In a historic development for cannabis in the US, The U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recommending that cannabis be reclassified from Schedule I to Schedule III under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The letter follows Biden’s request for a review of the federal scheduling of cannabis.
If enacted, the rescheduling would see cannabis classed as having low potential for addiction and abuse, moving it from sitting alongside drugs like raw opium to instead, potentially sit alongside drugs such as anabolic steroids.
While the move has been welcomed by many in the industry, Deputy Director of drug reform group NORML, Paul Armentano, says such a rescheduling does not go far enough.
Armentano believes that reclassifying cannabis to Schedule III will continue to misrepresent the plant’s safety “relative to other controlled substances such as anabolic steroids and ketamine (Schedule III), benzodiazepines (Schedule IV), or even alcohol, which is unscheduled.”
The move would also be “out of step” with public opinion on cannabis and would do little to address the unalignment of state and federal law on the matter – an issue that has long been preventing the industry from accessing vital banking services or conducting interstate commerce.
Speaking live on CNN, Armentano said: “Tobacco and alcohol are not in the Controlled Substances Act. Those substances are well recognised to pose far greater hazards to health than cannabis. We should treat marijuana [under the federal scheduling system] equally.”
“Americans don’t want cannabis treated like heroin, like it is now. Still, they also don’t want it treated like a Schedule III substance like ketamine, which is only legal to possess with a physician’s prescription,” wrote Armentano in a statement to NORML members.
“As a grassroots organisation that promotes freedom and civil liberties and represents the interests of the responsible cannabis consumer, we will continue to make the case for sensible marijuana policies like descheduling.”