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May 01, 2024 10:19 AM UTC

Smoke 'Em if You Got 'Em: Federal Government to Ease Weed Restrictions

  • by: Colorado Pols

Colorado and Washington were the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana through successful ballot initiatives in 2012. Since then, 22 more states have followed while 40 states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized medical marijuana.

And you know this…man!

And now we’ve moved another YUGE step closer to legalizing — or at least decriminalizing — the stinky weed all over the country. As The Associated Press reports:

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration will move to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug, The Associated Press has learned, a historic shift to generations of American drug policy that could have wide ripple effects across the country.

The proposal, which still must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, would recognize the medical uses of cannabis and acknowledge it has less potential for abuse than some of the nation’s most dangerous drugs. However, it would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use.

The agency’s move, confirmed to the AP on Tuesday by five people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive regulatory review, clears the last significant regulatory hurdle before the agency’s biggest policy change in more than 50 years can take effect.

Once OMB signs off, the DEA will take public comment on the plan to move marijuana from its current classification as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. It moves pot to Schedule III, alongside ketamine and some anabolic steroids, following a recommendation from the federal Health and Human Services Department. After the public comment period and a review by an administrative judge, the agency would eventually publish the final rule. [Pols emphasis]

As NBC News explains, this is a big step that reflects President Biden’s changing opinions on the subject:

President Joe Biden directed the Department of Health and Human Services in October 2022 to review marijuana’s classification. Federal scientists concluded that there is credible evidence that cannabis provides medical benefits and that it poses lower health risks than other controlled substances.

Biden even made history in his State of the Union address this year, for the first time referring to marijuana from the dais in the House chamber and making note of the federal review process. “No one should be jailed for using or possessing marijuana,” he said.

Governor Jared Polis

Governor Jared Polis applauded the news with a statement on Tuesday:

“I am thrilled by the Biden Administration’s decision to begin the process of finally rescheduling cannabis, following the lead of Colorado and 37 other states that have already legalized it for medical or adult use, correcting decades of outdated federal policy. This action is good for Colorado businesses and our economy, it will improve public safety, and will support a more just and equitable system for all. We look forward to when Colorado businesses will continue to safely fulfill the consumer demand without facing additional safety challenges and unnecessary financial burden that 280E tax provisions created,” said Colorado Governor Jared Polis.

Governor Polis has been a strong advocate for federal cannabis reform. In April and August of 2021, Governor Polis called upon Congressional leaders to pass the Safe Banking Act. In November of 2021, Governor Polis led an effort with 21 other Governors to encourage Congress to pass SAFE Banking Amendments. Additionally, in 2023 Governor Polis joined fellow Governors and called upon President Biden and the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule cannabis.

Members of Colorado’s Congressional delegation have long been pushing for eased restrictions on marijuana, particularly around the SAFER Banking Act, which would give marijuana dispensaries access to banking and credit institutions in order to relieve the very real burden of having to deal with large amounts of cash.


6 thoughts on “Smoke ‘Em if You Got ‘Em: Federal Government to Ease Weed Restrictions

    1. How?  How would putting marijuana into a different restrictive status possibly make a difference in the election?  There still will be no FDA approved uses for medical marijuana, so there won't be a federal change.  There likely will be an easier path to research — but none of that will be in process before November, either.


  1. Considering how successful the war on drugs hasn’t been, this is the tiniest of baby steps.  It’s long past time to completely overhaul U.S. drug laws, but considering that the U.S. still believes it can incarcerate its way out of a public health problem, I’m not holding my breath.  Meanwhile, drink up, alcohol kills barely 100,000 a year in the US

    1. 👆👆👆THIS 👆👆👆

      On the whole this tiniest of steps is technically “progress”. The 280E piece is a big deal but like you said, we need a comprehensive overhaul.

      1. It is definitely some progress.  But there needs to be legislation not just administrative reclassification, particularly since SCOTUS can't be trusted not to completely gut agency authority to do things like this.  The Court's 18th century thinking for the 21st century is a real impediment to progress in all sorts of things.  

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