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Rescheduling Marijuana


The Justice Department submitted the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to the Office of the Federal Register and, if approved, the rescheduling would limit the punishment for those who are in possession of marijuana when it comes to a federal crime.


The proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period. After that, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration can assign an administrative law judge to consider the evidence and make a final scheduling recommendation


ABC News reported earlier this month the DEA was planning to reschedule marijuana.


President Joe Biden, in a video posted Thursday on X, touted the proposal as "an important move toward reversing longstanding inequities."


"Look folks, no one should be in jail for merely using or possessing marijuana. Period," he said. "Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana, and I'm committed to righting those wrongs."


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Opinion: Reclassifying Marijuana – A Long Overdue Step Toward Justice


The Biden administration's proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III is a monumental step forward. This change, announced by the Justice Department on Thursday, could significantly alter the legal landscape for marijuana possession, reducing the harsh penalties currently associated with its federal crime status.


For decades, marijuana has been classified alongside drugs like heroin and LSD, substances deemed to have no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. This categorization has been a cornerstone of the failed War on Drugs, disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and clogging the justice system with non-violent offenders. Moving marijuana to Schedule III acknowledges its medical potential and paves the way for a more rational approach to drug policy.


The proposal, now open to a 60-day public comment period, will then be reviewed by the DEA's administrator, who may assign an administrative law judge to evaluate the evidence and make a final recommendation. While this bureaucratic process is essential, the direction is clear: a shift toward a more just and equitable drug policy.


President Biden, in a video statement on X, emphasized the importance of this move: "Look folks, no one should be in jail for merely using or possessing marijuana. Period. Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana, and I'm committed to righting those wrongs."


His words resonate with the experiences of countless individuals whose lives have been derailed by harsh marijuana laws. The proposed reclassification is not just a regulatory change; it's a recognition of the need to correct historical injustices. The War on Drugs has disproportionately targeted Black and brown communities, leading to mass incarceration and systemic inequities that persist to this day. This proposal, while not a panacea, is a critical step in the right direction.


Critics may argue that rescheduling does not go far enough, and indeed, full legalization remains the ultimate goal for many advocates. However, reclassification to Schedule III would at least ease some of the federal restrictions and potentially open doors for more comprehensive reforms in the future. It acknowledges the changing public perception of marijuana and aligns federal policy more closely with the growing number of states that have already legalized or decriminalized.


The Biden administration's proposal to reclassify marijuana is a necessary and overdue action. It offers a glimmer of hope for those who have been unjustly penalized and signals a shift towards a more enlightened and fair approach to drug policy. As we enter the public comment period, it is crucial for voices from all walks of life to support this change and push for continued progress in ending the War on Drugs once and for all.



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