DEA Letter to Congress Asserts “Final Authority” on Cannabis Scheduling

In a recent letter to congress that was published by Punchbowl News, a DEA representative asserted that the Drug Enforcement Administration has “final authority” on any decision regarding the status of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act. Amid numerous active efforts to change how the federal government treats cannabis that have been playing out in congress, courts, and the executive branch, this assertion by the DEA highlights the complexity of the situation.

The DEA is currently reviewing the federal classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, following a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reclassify cannabis to a less restrictive Schedule III, indicating a shift in perspective on its medical value and potential for abuse. Meanwhile, public support of cannabis legalization is at an all-time-high: a recent Gallup poll revealed that seven in ten Americans support a change in policy.

While the HHS has made its stance clear, the DEA holds the final authority to reschedule or deschedule drugs under the Controlled Substances Act. Despite the ongoing review initiated under President Biden’s directive, the DEA has not provided a timeline or clear indication of its position, maintaining a secretive and procedural stance.

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