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Marijuana Rescheduling Announcement Coming ‘Very Soon,’ As Early As This Week, Opposition Group Says



Officials with the nation’s top marijuana prohibitionist advocacy group say they are hearing that the results of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) cannabis scheduling review will be announced “very soon,” possibly as soon as “today or tomorrow.”

DEA has spent the last eight months considering a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Now leaders of the organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) say they’re seeing indications that DEA’s review is complete and will be revealed imminently.

“We’re hearing a lot of chatter—even as we’re having this podcast, I’m hearing from some sources that pro-marijuana Democratic senators are saying it’s very soon, as in today or tomorrow,” SAM President Kevin Sabet said during an interview on the organization’s “The Drug Report” podcast on Monday. “So it could be wishful thinking or not. I don’t know whether it will be coming as we as we talk. So, again, we’ll see.”

Rumors about the timing of a rescheduling decision have been swirling for months. But the sources of those rumors have been consistently pro-reform, making it all the more notable that this time it’s coming from a prohibitionist group that has advocated for keeping marijuana in Schedule I.

“We are hearing it’s going to come soon. It very well could happen this week,” Sabet said. “But it also could happen in three weeks. It could happen in three months. We don’t know.”

The SAM executive also reiterated his skepticism about the revised Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug scheduling review process—a talking point that’s also been picked up by certain GOP lawmakers.

“One thing I have to say: Obviously sort of a glass half full-glass half empty way to look at this. Obviously, I don’t like [rescheduling] for many reasons, and we completely oppose it,” Sabet said. “But the glass half full, if you’re going to look at it that way—and I always think you’ve got to sometimes look at it that way, even if it’s overall not good, you don’t want it, you wanted a full glass of water—but if you have a half and you look at it that way, the goalposts have changed.”

Sabet said earlier in the interview that SAM has “some pretty decent intel that [the scheduling review is] moving through the process. There’s no doubt about it.”

He pointed out that past scheduling petitions have taken years to complete, only to have the government deny the asks to reclassify marijuana under the CSA. In this case, however, the scheduling review was directed by President Joe Biden. A DEA official also recently said it sometimes takes up to six months for the agency to complete its analysis of health officials’ recommendations—which is now less than how long it has now been since the agency began its current cannabis assessment.

SAM has long opposed even incremental marijuana reform, and it’s coordinated messaging with GOP lawmakers to discourage DEA from rescheduling marijuana. It’s also encouraged supporters to reach out to their congressional representatives to oppose rescheduling, marijuana banking reform and legalization proposals.

Last week, a coalition of 21 congressional lawmakers told DEA to “promptly remove marijuana from Schedule I,” while recognizing that the agency may be “navigating internal disagreement” on the issue.

That point references reporting in The Wall Street Journal that said DEA officials are “at odds” with the Biden administration over the scheduling review.

Marijuana Moment reached out to DEA about the status of its review multiple times in recent weeks, but representatives have not provided on-the-record comment. The White House has also so far declined to comment about the rumored timeline.

Meanwhile, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says there’s “no reason” for DEA to “delay” making a marijuana scheduling decision.

Last month, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra defended his agency’s rescheduling recommendation during a Senate committee hearing and also told cannabis lobbyist Don Murphy that he should pay DEA a visit and “knock on their door” for answers about the timing of their decision.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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