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Bidens plan to reschedule marijuana could help investors, but some raise concerns

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President Joe Biden’s plan to reschedule how the federal government treats marijuana could help cannabis investors and businesses, but it also has drawn criticism.

Under the proposal, the Drug Enforcement Administration would move cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug, easing restrictions on cannabis and opening the door for investors and tax breaks for cannabis businesses.

For decades, cannabis has been classified as a Schedule I drug, a class defined as drugs with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy and methaqualone, the hypnotic sedative sold under the brand name Quaalude before it was discontinued in the 1980s.

Under the plan, cannabis would be reclassified as a Schedule III drug, defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Other Schedule III drugs include products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit, ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

The election-year move comes after Biden has repeatedly promised to reschedule cannabis since 2019.

But not everyone is pleased with the plan. Cannabis industry groups said while it was a step in the right direction, it fell short of full legalization of the drug, which is already legal in some form in 40 U.S. states. Recreational marijuana is legal in 24 states and Washington, D.C. Another 17 states have legalized the use of marijuana solely for medical purposes, with varying rules in each state’s laws.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana President Dr. Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy advisor to Presidents Obama, Bush, and Clinton, said the move could prove harmful to Americans.

“Politics and industry influence have loomed over this decision from the very beginning,” Sabet said in a statement. “Now, against the recommendations of prior Attorneys General, the medical community and law enforcement, the Administration unilaterally reversed decades of precedent despite volumes of data confirming marijuana’s harmfulness. Moreover, a drug can be taken off Schedule I only if it has accepted medical use – raw, crude marijuana has never passed safety and efficacy protocols. A drug isn’t medicine because it’s popular.”

Sabet said the move was good for investors, but not the country at large.

“The winners from such a decision are the deep pocketed investors desperately looking for good news in the marijuana space, given the failures of state legalization,” he said.

We hoped the Administration would prioritize expungements and encouraging additional marijuana research instead of making a political statement that only helps the addiction industry.”

He also raised safety concerns.

“Medical and scientific studies, as well as government data, have conclusively linked THC drugs with addiction, psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, suicidality, and IQ loss, among other impacts,” Sabet said. “The Administration’s effort to push through this action in an election year could be perceived as a thinly veiled attempt to reverse polling trends with the principal targets of the pot industry, namely young people.”

Some lawmakers also have raised concerns.

“The Biden Admin’s efforts to remove marijuana as a Schedule I drug is irresponsible and will directly lead to more drug use in the United States,” U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma, wrote on X. “This will not make Oklahoma families stronger, streets safer, or workplaces more productive.”