DEA Will Have Final Say on Marijuana

Stephen Andrews
05 Jan 2024

In a letter to lawmakers, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) says it has “the final authority” regarding making any scheduling decision on marijuana. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended last year that marijuana should be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

It is understood that DEA Acting Chief of the Office of Congressional Affairs Michael Miller gave a general commentary on the scheduling review process in a letter sent to Congressional Cannabis Caucus co-chair Rep. Earl Blumenauer. 

President Joe Biden initiated the scheduling review process in October 2022. The first part of it involved a scientific evaluation from HHS, which ultimately proposed to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III under CSA. 

The letter, sent last month and first reported by Punchbowl News confirms that DEA has now started its own review following the assessment and recommendation made by the HHS. It’s the kind of notice that simply propels a spike in cannabis stocks among other things.

“DEA has the final authority to schedule, reschedule, or deschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act, after considering the relevant statutory and regulatory criteria and HHS’s scientific and medical evaluation,” the letter says. “DEA is now conducting its review.”

DEA’s letter is reportedly a response to an earlier letter from 31 bipartisan lawmakers, led by Blumenauer, that asked DEA to consider the “merits” of legalization while it carries its review. The same letter also expressed concern about the limitations of barely putting marijuana in Schedule III instead of fully removing it from classification. 

“Marijuana’s continued inappropriate scheduling is both arcane and out-of-touch with the will of the American people,” that initial letter said.  

The reply from DEA did not offer much further insight, however. The agency simply outlined the procedural details of the scheduling review, without revealing many details. It did not even say when the agency plans to come forward with a decision. Although, many believe that will happen ahead of the November elections.  

If marijuana is moved from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act, it will stand next to substances such as ketamine and testosterone. HHS has taken roughly 11 months to complete its scientific assessment and make this recommendation. 

If rescheduled, marijuana will continue to be federally prohibited. Still, the implications would be major, with many wondering how this might affect established legal state markets. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

What Happens If Marijuana is Moved in the Schedule III List? 

UN Report Calls for Major Drug Policy Shift

What Are the Most Addictive Substances?

Stephen Andrews