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USA, reclassification of marijuana. What does the Joe Biden administration propose?

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“No one should be imprisoned for simply using or possessing marijuana,” Joe Biden wrote on social media. The US president referred to the government's proposal to relax cannabis regulations. It provides for their inclusion on the list of substances with less dangerous and medical properties. Experts emphasize, however, that this will not decriminalize marijuana possession at the federal level. So what does the “historic” proposal mean, which would change the regulations that have been in place for over half a century?

“No one should be imprisoned for simply using or possessing marijuana,” he wrote on the X platform on Friday the president of the United States of America Joe Biden. The topic of marijuana is strongly present in American politics in connection with the proposal presented by the Department of Justice on Thursday USA a historic proposal to relax its regulations. The idea is to reclassify it from the restrictive list of controlled substances to the list of less dangerous substances.

Biden provided more information on this issue in a comment published on Thursday, the day the official proposal to change federal regulations appeared. “Far too many lives have been turned upside down because of the wrong approach to marijuana, and I am committed to righting those mistakes,” the president said.

He said his administration has taken a step toward “reclassifying marijuana.” He explained that it was proposed to remove it from the group of substances included in Schedule I (the most restrictive list of controlled substances, which include highly addictive substances with no medical benefits, e.g. heroin or LSD) and place it in Schedule III (including substances perceived as having low or moderate risk of abuse and less dangerous). This list includes, among others: prescription drugs such as ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

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Biden called it an important step “toward reversing longstanding inequities.” He also pointed out that a record number of people convicted of federal marijuana possession had already been pardoned. “No one should be in jail just for using or possessing marijuana,” he said.

As noted by the Washington Post, in Thursday's video, Biden explicitly supported this reclassification for the first time.

Reclassification of marijuana. What is it about

The Department of Justice – after receiving approval from the White House – published an official notice of its proposals and gave the public a two-month period to respond to them. This means that the regulation reclassifying marijuana does not go into effect now, but it may do so in the future.

The changes proposed by the American leader's administration do not assume that marijuana will be legalized at the federal level.

What does this mean in terms of legality?

And while Biden has said no one should be in prison for “simple use or possession of marijuana,” legal experts say the reclassification would have only a limited impact on the criminalization of marijuana. The Washington Post notes that the drug is still illegal under federal law, regardless of classification. Litigation involving this drug takes place primarily in state courts, and few people go to federal prison for marijuana possession.

These differences in the view of marijuana contained in federal and state law result from the fact that when it comes to allowing the possession and smoking of marijuana, it is up to the state authorities. It is up to individual states to decide whether this substance is allowed for legal use. It is legal in some form in almost 40 states.

Therefore, writes the Washington Post, the consequences of reclassification for existing legal state markets in the United States are particularly unclear because marijuana was not treated as a federally regulated drug product sold in pharmacies.

The proposal easing the federal approach to cannabis is called historic and heralds the largest reform in this area in over 50 years. Marijuana has been included in Schedule I since Congress first passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970.

The reclassification was recommended to the White House by Attorney General Merrick Garland two weeks ago. This was greeted with enthusiasm by cannabis advocates, who argued that the federal government was exaggerating its dangers.

New opportunities for research into the medical benefits of cannabis

According to experts, if the change in regulations comes to fruition, it will enable the development of research on the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

They argue that an influx of research funds from health care investors can be expected due to renewed interest in marijuana from pharmaceutical companies. The current classification of marijuana limits the possibility of research due to limited access to cannabis products, legal obstacles and financial constraints. Currently, federal grants to explore the medicinal potential of cannabis are largely out of the question, and legal complexities discourage many private entities from engaging in such research.

Reuters, BBC, The Washington Post, tvn24.pl, Rzeczpospolita

Main photo source: SHAWN THEW/PAP/EPA

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