U.S. Drug Policy Director Discusses Impact of Cannabis Rescheduling

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The Office of National Drug Policy (ONDCP) director Dr. Rahul Gupta, often referred to as President Joe Biden’s appointed “drug czar,” spoke about the ongoing discussion of rescheduling cannabis.

In a recent interview with Star Tribune on May 24, which was originally featured in the news outlet’s free email newsletter, the first question inquired about Gupta’s “main takeaway” in regard to federal rescheduling. “We’ve had a policy for over half a century where so many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Gupta responded. “We’ve had so many people arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated. We know white, Black and brown people use marijuana at similar rates, but Black and brown incarceration rates are higher.”

He cited Biden’s October 2022 announcement to pursue pardoning cannabis offenses and instructing the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department (of Health and Human Services (HHS) to review the current schedule category that cannabis is positioned in. Now that request has been acted upon through the HHS in August 2023, with more recent moves suggesting progress within the Drug Enforcement Administration as well, Gupta commented on the importance of what happens next. “This is going to be really important to remove barriers to critical research and perhaps drug development, and it could also lead to more research into the benefits of medical marijuana,” he said. “Clearly this decision is going to have a historic and long-lasting impact.”

When asked if Gupta could offer clarity in how federal law enforcement will alter their prioritization of cannabis, he referred to other substances that are included in the Schedule III classification and thus have much lower priority, such as Tylenol with codeine and testosterone. “It will have an impact on racial disparity, incarceration and prosecutions,” he said. “And whether in Massachusetts or West …

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Author: Nicole Potter / High Times

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