A senior official at the US Department of Health and Human Services has officially recommended that the government ease restrictions on marijuana.
In a letter addressed to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) administrator Anne Milgram, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Health Rachel Levine asked for marijuana to be reclassified as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act, according to a report by Bloomberg News.
Under current federal law, marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, putting it alongside hard drugs such as heroin and LSD and indicating that it has “no known medical benefit” and making it illegal for all uses.
Schedule III drugs are usable for certain medical and therapeutic uses. Schedule III drugs include codeine, testosterone and ketamine, among others.
Neither the Department of Health and Human Services nor the DEA immediately respond to a requests for a comment.
Following the report shares for some of the top marijuana-related firms, including Canopy Growth, Tilray Brands and Cronos Group, saw a significant jump in value.
In an executive order issued last year, Biden asked Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and Attorney General Merrick Garland to initiate a review process to consider the potential rescheduling of marijuana on the federal level.
According to a Pew Research poll released in November, an overwhelming share of U.S. adults (89%) say they believe marijuana should be legal for at least medical purposes. 59% believe it should be legal recreationally.
[Update: Secretary of Health Xavier Becerra has confirmed that the letter was sent to the DEA, saying on social media: “I can now share that, following the data and science, @HHSGov has responded to @POTUS’ directive to me for the Department to provide a scheduling recommendation for marijuana to the DEA”.]