President Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra on Monday tweeted at 4:20 p.m. about the administration’s review to determine whether to reclassify marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug.
“At the direction of @POTUS, we’re continuing to examine how marijuana is scheduled. We’re looking at what the evidence tells us – and that will guide what we do,” Becerra tweeted on Monday at 4:20 Eastern, which, as Marijuana Moment noted, is a nod to cannabis culture.
— Secretary Xavier Becerra (@SecBecerra) December 5, 2022
Becerra’s tweet comes days after he reportedly told an audience at an overdose prevention event on Friday that the Biden administration is “going to take a look at what science tells us and what the evidence tells us” regarding the schedule classification of marijuana. “That will guide what we do—and we hope that will guide what the federal government does,” he said.
Becerra also said the administration would “not be the ones who would be proposing” decriminalization of marijuana but added they would “weigh in on any issue involving decriminalization of any controlled substance.”
Becerra’s remarks on the reclassification of marijuana come roughly two months after Biden announced his decision to pardon thousands of individuals convicted on federal possession of marijuana charges. At the time, Biden also said he wanted the federal government to reclassify marijuana to a lower controlled substance category.
Since 1970, the federal government has classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug, putting it in the same category as powerful drugs like heroin and ecstasy. However, many states have legalized marijuana in recent decades, despite the federal prohibition.
If marijuana were reclassified as a Schedule II drug, it would be alongside drugs like cocaine, which the federal government recognizes as providing some medical value. A Schedule III classification would put it next to powerful prescription drugs like Tylenol with codeine.
A complete “descheduling” would put marijuana next to tobacco or alcohol, which experts predict is less likely to happen.