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Documents released: The analysis behind the HHS recommendation to reschedule cannabis

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has now released documents relating to the agency's review of the federal classification of cannabis. The 252-page document reviews the basis of the recommendation to reclassify cannabis from a Schedule I to Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The FDA's Eight Factor Analysis found cannabis "has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States" and "is not an immediate precursor of another controlled substance."

The document release comes as a response to attorney Matt Zorn, who filed a federal lawsuit urging the agencies to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. It is not clear when the DEA will make their decision, the review is still ongoing.

Industry reaction
While some in the industry are hesitant about the rescheduling of cannabis, hoping for a complete de-scheduling instead, others are applauding the developments.

"The importance of a federal agency publicly acknowledging that cannabis is inappropriately classified as a Schedule I substance and has accepted medical use cannot be overstated," says Saphira Galoob, Executive Director of the National Cannabis Roundtable (NCR). "The documentation released also highlights the abundance of research and scientific evidence that HHS and the FDA utilized to make this historic recommendation."

"We thank President Biden for initiating this long-overdue federal review and we thank HHS and the FDA for carrying out their work in such a thorough and timely manner, understanding the seriousness of the task before them after decades of federal prohibition has caused irreparable harm to individuals and communities persecuted as part of the War on Drugs, patient access, and consumer safety," Saphira continues. "We hope to see the DEA and DOJ swiftly initiate formal rulemaking in line with the HHS Schedule III recommendation to begin to shift cannabis policy on the federal level as 38 states, the District of Columbia, and four territories have already done."

"We all agree that more federal action is needed outside of the scope of the CSA review in order to right the wrongs of the misguided War on Drugs that we hope to see the Department of Justice also swiftly take action on," she adds. "Within the purview of the CSA, moving cannabis to Schedule III will allow for additional critical medical research to be conducted and will allow for state-legal cannabis businesses to be treated in a more equitable manner under federal tax law. Without the extreme tax burdens caused by 280E, the regulated cannabis industry will be better equipped to combat the threat to public safety and health posed by the illicit market and a better ability to reinvest in their workforces and the communities they serve."

For more information:
National Cannabis Roundtable