National Cannabis Industry Association Responds to Health & Human Services Recommendation on Marijuana Scheduling

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It’s been reported today that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an official recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration calling for marijuana to be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III status in the federal Controlled Substances Act.


Advocates acknowledged this historic move in the long fight to end marijuana prohibition but point out the rescheduling would not resolve many of the issues plaguing state cannabis markets.

“Moving cannabis to schedule III could have some limited benefit but does nothing to align federal law with the 38 U.S. states which have already effectively regulated cannabis for medical or adult use. The only way to fully resolve the myriad of issues stemming from the federal conflict with state law is to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act and regulate the product in a manner similar to alcohol.” said National Cannabis Industry Association CEO Aaron Smith.

“The vast majority of Americans live in states with laws that depart from federal law on this issue and where thousands of regulated Main Street businesses are serving the legal cannabis market safely and responsibly. It’s long past time for Congress to truly harmonize federal policy with those states.”

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I substance, a status reserved for drugs with high potential for abuse and no medical value. This nonbinding recommendation acknowledges decades of scientific data suggesting Schedule I status is inappropriate.

Laws to make cannabis legal for adults have passed in 23 states as well as the District of Columbia and the territories of CNMI and Guam, and 38 states as well as several territories have comprehensive medical cannabis laws. Three in four Americans live in a state where cannabis is legal in some form.

The National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S. and the only organization focused on representing small and independent cannabis-related businesses at the national level. NCIA promotes the growth of a responsible, sustainable, and inclusive cannabis industry and works for a favorable social, economic, and regulatory environment for that industry throughout the United States.

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