During a press briefing in Sacramento last week, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra revealed his intention to provide President Joe Biden with a federal marijuana scheduling decision within this calendar year. Becerra acknowledged the agencies’ concerted efforts to swiftly complete the administrative review.
While previous statements emphasized the urgency of the marijuana review initiated by the president last year, the specific timeline remained unclear. Now Becerra has unveiled his target for fulfilling the president’s directive.
The FDA is evaluating marijuana scientifically through eight different processes under the authority of HHS. The goal is to establish if the substance should be descheduled, rescheduled or kept in Schedule I, which is a classification reserved for substances that are subject to the strictest regulations under the CSA.
Becerra emphasized the collaborative approach of HHS and other agencies, such as the DEA, in striving for an evidence-based response aligned with scientific findings. He expressed optimism about reaching a conclusion relatively soon, ideally this year. Although not a precise deadline, this is the most detailed timetable given by a senior government official, offering valuable insight into the secretary’s expectations for the following six months.
After HHS completes its study, it will send a scheduling suggestion to the DEA, which has the last say regarding the matter. The DEA can choose to ignore the resulting suggestion even if the scientific conclusions of the health agency are admissible in court.
Several legislators, including Congressional Progressive Caucus members and Barbara Lee, cochair of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus, have joined cannabis supporters in pressing the Biden administration to speed up the scheduling review procedure. At the same time, these lawmakers are pursuing incremental reforms such as marijuana banking.
BOWL PAC founder Justin Strekal emphasized the importance of marijuana descheduling to accomplish the Biden administration’s stated objectives, which include matters such as reestablishing the legitimacy of the law and addressing racial justice.
Becerra acknowledges that the completion of the schedule review by his department is of great public interest. Prioritizing safety and efficacy as guiding principles, he stated in March that action needed to be taken quickly while acknowledging the several stages necessary before deciding.
More than a dozen members of Congress from both parties called for transparency in the cannabis scheduling review in a letter delivered in March to Becerra and Merrick Garland, the U.S. Attorney General. The letter emphasized that Biden’s directive gives a chance to evaluate the causes and effects of federal policy rigorously. It noted the significance of acknowledging marijuana’s current status as a state-regulated narcotic and how scheduling marijuana was motivated by stigma rather than research.
Garland stated during a March Senate hearing that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still drafting its marijuana policy in anticipation of the findings of the scientific assessment conducted by health agencies.
Many entities, such as IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC), are likely to take an interest in how the scheduling review pans out since it could have far-reaching effects on marijuana as a substance of interest and how its derivatives are used.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to IGC Pharma Inc. (NYSE American: IGC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://cnw.fm/IGC
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