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DEA’s Rescheduling of Marijuana Could Be Delayed Beyond November Polls

Some experts believe that legislators that opposing the reclassification of marijuana under Schedule 3 may call for public hearings that will delay the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) final rule past the election. Some claim that this is the goal — to prevent President Joe Biden from boosting his appeal to younger voters.

The 60-day public comment period on marijuana rescheduling, which shall inform the DEA’s decision, is set to lapse on July 20, 2024. Thirty days after this period ends, the DEA is expected to decide on whether to move marijuana from its Schedule I classification. The decision will then go into effect on Sept. 20, 2024.

It has been more than a year since President Biden directed the secretary of Health and Human Services and the attorney general to carry out a scientific review of how cannabis is classified under federal law.

Earlier in April, the DEA agreed to reclassify marijuana. This was followed by a review by the Office of Management and Budget, concluded in 21 days. The fast-tracking of this process allowed the public comment period to begin sooner.

Thus far, more than 25,000 comments have been received by the federal agency, with 800-plus comments coming from residents in the state of Colorado or individuals who have discussed how the state became a leader in marijuana regulation. This makes sense, especially since the state of Colorado has been playing a key role in assisting the federal government with its research on rescheduling. Some agencies in the state provided scientific data and research to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Additionally, the Marijuana Enforcement Division under the state’s department of revenue supplied data on cannabis licenses. This included demographic data on who held the licenses.

The state’s Department of Safety compiled a report in 2021 centered on the impacts of cannabis, noting that the total number of cannabis arrests decreased significantly. Furthermore, the state’s Department of Public Health and Environment also provided a literature review on statistics and studies from Colorado’s Healthy Kids survey.

It should be noted that marijuana’s reclassification doesn’t fully legalize the drug. This is mainly because drugs under Schedule 3 are still controlled substances and subject to regulations and rules. This means that individuals who traffic drugs under Schedule 3, including ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone, could still face prosecution at the federal level.

Even under the new classification, legal marijuana dispensaries in America would still have to register with the DEA and fulfill the reporting requirements. As of 2023, 24 states had legalized recreational cannabis while 38 states had legalized medical cannabis.

The broader marijuana industry, including leading companies such as Cresco Labs Inc. (CSE: CL) (OTCQX: CRLBF), may be wondering when all this jockeying will end and a final ruling is made on marijuana’s reclassification so that the industry can adjust its strategic plans in light of the latest regulatory change.

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