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US proposes reclassifying marijuana as less dangerous drug

Cannabis clones are displayed for customers at Home Grown Apothecary in Oregon.
Cannabis clones are displayed for customers at Home Grown Apothecary in Oregon. Copyright Jenny Kane/AP Photo
Copyright Jenny Kane/AP Photo
By Euronews with AP
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The Biden administration suggested reclassifying cannabis so that it's listed at the same level as ketamine instead of drugs such as heroin or LSD.


The US government proposed a rule change to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous drug.

The historic move would recognise its use medically in the US and acknowledge it has less potential for abuse than other drugs.

The US Attorney General submitted a proposal on Thursday to move it from a schedule I to a schedule III drug under the US Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Schedule I drugs are those "with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse" such as heroin and LSD, while schedule III drugs are those "with a moderate to low potential" for dependence which includes ketamine and steroids. 

The change requires the US Drug Enforcement Administration to consider public views on the proposal.

'Failed approach to marijuana'

"This is monumental," US President Joe Biden said in a video statement, calling it an important move toward reversing longstanding inequities.

"Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana, and I’m committed to righting those wrongs. You have my word on it," he added.

The move could help the president appeal to younger voters during an election year.

Some critics, however, argue the US shouldn’t change course on marijuana, saying rescheduling isn’t necessary and could lead to harmful side effects.

Government drug policy has lagged behind many US states in recent years, with 38 states having already legalised medical marijuana and 24 legalising its recreational use.

That’s helped fuel fast growth in the cannabis industry, with an estimated worth of nearly $30 billion (€27.6 billion).

Marijuana mostly illegal in Europe

While medical marijuana has become more available in Europe, cannabis remains illegal in most EU countries for personal use.

Germany partially legalised the possession of marijuana this year. Public possession of 25g of cannabis was decriminalised and people are now allowed to possess up to 50g of cannabis at home and cultivate three plants.

From July, the law allows for non-commercial cannabis clubs to be established with a limit of 500 members who would have access to specific amounts of the drug.

There are still bans on smoking marijuana in certain areas and pedestrian zones.

Some EU countries, such as Portugal, Luxembourg, and Malta, have also decriminalised the drug, while there are several pilot programmes for medical marijuana are ongoing in the bloc.

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