Justice Department Recommends Softening Of Marijuana Restrictions

The Justice Department said it had recommended easing restrictions on marijuana in what could be a significant change in federal policy.

Though the move does not end the criminalization of the drug, it marks a shift in how the government views the safety and use of marijuana for medical purposes. It also reflects President Joe Biden‘s administration’s efforts to liberalize marijuana policy as increasingly more Americans support legalizing the drug.

Biden is currently trailing Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump, so the decision comes at a good time for the administration by bolstering his support among the young. The move could also lead to the softening of other laws that account for the use or possession of cannabis, including sentencing guidelines, banking and access to public housing.

The recommendation came amid concerns from Anne Milgram, administrator of the D.E.A., which has long relied on federal research to support these decisions. However, the effort will do little to change the cannabis industry’s current landscape.

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“A lot of people are going to be disappointed and probably a bit surprised about how very little changes,” said Paul Armentano, the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, in a statement.  

In October 2022, Biden directed his administration to review the classification of marijuana. Less than a year later, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended it be reclassified from Schedule I to Schedule III, removing restrictions. Schedule I drugs include heroin and cocaine and are viewed as the most dangerous to the general public. 

Ava Lombardi

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