Biden admin aims to reclassify marijuana as lower risk


The US Drug Enforcement Administration plans to reclassify marijuana as a lower-risk drug, Crain’s New York Business reported, citing anonymous sources. The shift in classification could affect drug testing policies of contingent workforce programs and their staffing providers.

The DEA is expected to approve an opinion by the Department of Health and Human Services that marijuana should be moved from the most strict Schedule I to the less stringent Schedule III. The agency defines Schedule III drugs as having a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence, such as Tylenol or ketamine. The proposal must still be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget and would not legalize marijuana outright for recreational use.

“Today, the attorney general circulated a proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III,” Justice Department Director of Public Affairs Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement to Staffing Industry Analysts. “Once published by the Federal Register, it will initiate a formal rulemaking process as prescribed by Congress in the Controlled Substances Act.”

Federal drug policy lags behind many states, with 38 having already legalized medical marijuana and 24 legalizing its recreational use in recent years.

Tuesday’s move by the Justice Department comes after the Health and Human Services Department in August recommended rescheduling cannabis as part of Biden’s ordered review, Reuters reported.