US set to reclassify cannabis as less dangerous drug

US set to reclassify cannabis as less dangerous drug

The US is set to reclassify cannabis as a less dangerous drug in a move which is being heralded as a historic shift, but one which is unlikely to impact the criminal justice system.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland has formally recommended that cannabis be moved from its current “Schedule I” classification to “Schedule III”, The Washington Post reports.

Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD, while Schedule III includes ketamine and anabolic steroids.

Reclassification, now being reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, will not change criminal penalties for possession or supply of cannabis.

“Put simple, this move from Schedule I to Schedule III is not getting people out of jail,” David Culver, senior vice-president of public affairs at the US Cannabis Council, told ABC News.

However, it will make it easier for researchers to conduct clinical trials involving cannabis and will likely reduce taxes for cannabis businesses in states which have legalised cannabis for recreational or medical use.

There is a sizeable cannabis industry in the US, despite its continuing prohibition at a federal level. The reclassification will reportedly allow cannabis businesses to receive certain tax breaks they are currently not eligible for.

Paul Armentano, deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said: “Those involved in the state legal marijuana industry and the tens of millions of Americans who patronise that industry are all acting in a manner that is inconsistent with federal law.

“Theoretically, if the federal government wished to do so, all of these players could be prosecuted for being in violation of the federal law.”

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