The Drug Enforcement Administration has confirmed it is reviewing the classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act, just days before the first public acknowledgement of its medical use by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Amid an “unprecedented” situation, speculation is rife around whether the U.S. is finally heading for a shift in policy at a federal level. But one thing experts do agree on is that any decision on cannabis policy is likely to be based on politics, rather than public health.
And yet, it will do little to address the harms caused by decades of this hard-line approach, according to Ann Fordham, executive director of the International Drug Policy Consortium.
“The devastating harms of U.S.-led global cannabis prohibition, such as the criminalization and incarceration of millions of people for cannabis-related activities, would remain entirely unaddressed by domestic rescheduling,” she says in an email.
“Furthermore, advocates for drug policy reform within the U.S. have called on President Biden to take steps to completely remove cannabis from the domestic schedules, noting that a move to Schedule III does not mean cannabis is decriminalized, as per his campaign promise, or lessen the harms of federal prohibition.”