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Marijuana is reclassified as a lower risk drug

The Justice Department yesterday took steps to reclassify marijuana as a lower-risk drug. Short of decriminalization, the proposal—which now enters a two-month comment period—would expand researchers’ access to marijuana and allow cannabis producers to deduct business expenses on their tax returns.

Following the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the federal government listed marijuana as a Schedule I drug—the most restrictive of five classes of controlled substances, considered to have no accepted medical benefit and a high potential for abuse. The classification places marijuana on par with heroin and ecstasy and above fentanyl and methamphetamine, two substances driving drug-related overdoses in the US.

Last year, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended marijuana be reclassified to Schedule III, treating it as a lower-risk substance alongside ketamine and testosterone. Marijuana is currently legal for recreational use in 24 states and for medicinal use in 38.

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