DEA to Reclassify Marijuana as Schedule 3 Drug, Recognizing Medical Benefits

DEA to Reclassify Marijuana as Schedule 3 Drug, Recognizing Medical Benefits

Fernando Silva
2 min read

US DEA to Reclassify Marijuana as Schedule 3 Drug in Major Policy Shift

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is poised to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 3 drug, acknowledging its potential medical benefits. Currently grouped with heroin as a Schedule 1 substance, this reclassification would place marijuana in the same category as ketamine and testosterone. The move follows the FDA's approval of the first marijuana-based drug to treat rare forms of epilepsy, aligning with the Department of Health and Human Services’ recommendation from last year. This change is expected to ease research restrictions and impose new regulations on marijuana dispensaries, mandating their registration with the DEA and compliance with stringent reporting requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • The significant policy change will see marijuana’s reclassification from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3, with implications for healthcare, business, and international markets.
  • Schedule 3 drugs are characterized by a "moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence."
  • Marijuana's rescheduling recognizes its potential medical benefits and aligns with various states' laws.
  • The Department of Health and Human Services' advice to the DEA was based on the FDA's review of data.
  • Lower scheduling is expected to facilitate easier access for researchers to study the effects of marijuana.


The DEA's decision to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 3 drug is poised to have far-reaching impacts. In the short term, marijuana dispensaries will need to register with the DEA and comply with more stringent reporting requirements. Longer-term effects are anticipated, including eased research restrictions, leading to a deeper understanding of marijuana's effects and potential benefits. This decision also harmonizes federal policy with laws in many states, reducing conflicts between the federal and state governments.

The reclassification is expected to prompt adaptations among pharmaceutical companies, particularly those specializing in pain management and epilepsy treatments, as they face increased competition from marijuana-based drugs. Conversely, biotech and marijuana-focused firms could experience growth opportunities.

From a financial perspective, investors could witness gains in cannabis-related ETFs and stocks, while countries with legal marijuana markets, such as Canada, might experience economic ramifications as US policies become more favorable. In summary, this decision signifies a noteworthy shift in the US's approach to marijuana, with implications for healthcare, business, and international markets.

Did You Know?

  • Schedule 1 drug: This is the classification given by the DEA to substances with the highest potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use. Marijuana's current classification as a Schedule 1 drug has been a point of contention due to its increasing acceptance for medical purposes in various states.
  • Schedule 3 drug: These drugs have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. The reclassification of marijuana would signify a shift in federal policy, recognizing its potential medical benefits and lowering barriers for research and development of cannabis-based treatments.
  • Potential medical benefits of marijuana: The chemical compounds in marijuana, known as cannabinoids, have shown therapeutic effects on the human body. For example, cannabidiol (CBD) has demonstrated potential in treating seizures associated with rare forms of epilepsy, while tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help alleviate pain, nausea, and loss of appetite in chemotherapy patients. The reclassification is expected to facilitate further research into its medical applications and potentially lead to the development of novel treatments for various conditions.

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