Justice Department Moves to Reclassify Marijuana as Less Dangerous Drug in Historic Policy Shift


The Justice Department today on Thursday May 16, 2024, formally announced the groundbreaking shift in U.S. drug policy by proposing to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III drug, recognizing its medical uses and reduced potential for abuse. This historic decision follows a thorough review initiated by President Joe Biden and aligns with recommendations from the federal Health and Human Services Department.

Attorney General Merrick Garland approved the proposed rule, which will be submitted to the Federal Register. This proposal acknowledges the medical benefits of cannabis and aims to move marijuana from its current Schedule I classification—where it is listed alongside heroin and LSD—to Schedule III, grouping it with substances like ketamine and anabolic steroids. However, the proposal stops short of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

President Biden’s Commitment to Reform

President Biden, in a video statement, highlighted the significance of this move: “This is monumental. Far too many lives have been upended because of a failed approach to marijuana, and I’m committed to righting those wrongs. You have my word on it.”

The president has also pardoned thousands of individuals convicted of simple possession of marijuana and has urged state and local leaders to take similar actions to expunge records of those affected.

Next Steps and Public Involvement

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will open a 60-day public comment period to gather feedback on the proposal, which may include a review by an administrative judge—a process that could extend over several months. This change is anticipated to reduce the tax burdens on marijuana businesses, facilitate research, and align federal regulations with the policies of numerous states that have already decriminalized or legalized marijuana.

Bipartisan Support and Continuing Advocacy

Support for reclassification spans both major political parties, with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York applauding the change and calling for further steps towards full legalization. The U.S. Cannabis Council described the move as a “tectonic shift away from the failed policies of the last 50 years.”

Category V Biotech’s Strategic Acquisition

Category V Biotech is pleased to announce that our pending acquisition of Genetic Networks comes at a perfect time with this change in policy. This acquisition will significantly benefit our company by allowing us to become an accelerator in providing the necessary science to get marijuana-based drugs approved by the FDA.  By integrating Genetic Networks’ advanced genomic technologies, we are poised to lead the industry in cannabis research and development, ensuring the highest standards of scientific rigor and innovation.

Impact on Federal Policy and Future Legislation

While the immediate impact on the criminal justice system is expected to be limited, given the rarity of federal prosecutions for simple possession in recent years, the reclassification marks a significant step in aligning federal policy with state-level reforms. As the Congressional Research Service notes, further legislative action will be necessary to fully bridge the gap between state and federal cannabis policies.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and colleagues have reintroduced legislation to federally legalize cannabis and implement regulations, although its passage remains uncertain in the current divided Congress. The Biden administration’s move is seen as a pivotal step in the ongoing effort to address the inequities and outdated policies surrounding marijuana.


Category V Biotech applauds this landmark decision by the Justice Department, representing a major step towards more rational and equitable drug policy in the United States. With the acquisition of Genetic Networks, we are well-positioned to drive forward the scientific research needed to support the FDA approval of marijuana-based medications, ultimately benefiting patients, and advancing public health.

Category V Biotech, Inc.

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