Close this search box.
Subtotal: $0.00
No products in the cart.

FDA Head: No Reason to DEA to Delay Rescheduling Cannabis

Does it feel like the Drug Enforcement Agency has been taking forever to decide whether it will reschedule marijuana? You aren’t the only one. In fact, other government agencies are now weighing in on the marijuana rescheduling debate and saying that there the DEA should stop slow-walking its decision.

Recently, the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that there was “no reason” for the DEA to drag its feet when determining whether to reschedule marijuana. The relevant information has been in the hands of the DEA since the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended moving marijuana from a Schedule I illegal substance to a Schedule III substance on August 29th, 2023.

What’s the hold-up, and will pressure from other government agencies be enough for the DEA to finally act? Let’s explore the situation in detail.

The Head of the FDA Weighs in on Marijuana Rescheduling 

 Current FDA Commissioner Robert Califf has shared his opinions on marijuana rescheduling, saying, “As a child of the sixties, it would be nice if in my lifetime we came up with a regulatory scheme.” The comments came during a hearing before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee meeting. When asked by Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) about the timeline for the scheduling review after his agency made its recommendation in August, Califf suggested that there was no reason for the DEA to delay coming to a decision on whether to reschedule marijuana. However, he also noted that the FDA is not part of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and the timing of a regulatory decision is not up to him. 

 Commissioner Califf also took Congress to task, suggesting that if the DEA reschedules marijuana, there needs to be some guidance from the legislature to address whether the FDA would assume additional regulatory responsibilities. He says the issue is a “very complicated topic.” Since it was individual states that first legalized medical and recreational marijuana, state regulation has been dominant. Who steps in at the federal level is a complicated issue. 

 “This is an area where I believe we would be better off if we had guidance from Congress about how to proceed,” Commissioner Califf said. “Medical marijuana is one thing where there’s a medical purpose and it’s proven through traditional medical pathways, but when it’s used for recreational purposes, there is no medical benefit in that case, it doesn’t fall under our typical regulation.” That’s because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is only responsible for protecting public health and safety by regulating food, drugs, medical devices, vaccines, and cosmetics. Recreational drugs and supplements do not fall under the jurisdiction of the FDA. 

 Pushback from Conservative Lawmakers Continues 

During the committee meeting, conservative lawmakers pushed back on Califf’s testimony. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) says the FDA “did not base its assessment in scientific facts or realities of how marijuana has been abused and used in our country today.” He then went on to say that the FDA recommendation to reschedule cannabis ignores the reality that cannabis is a dangerous drug that causes devastating consequences for children and adults in the U.S. Additionally, Rep. Sessions argued that the analysis of the cannabis review process was motivated by politics rather than science.

 Addressing the conservative congressman’s concerns, Califf had this to say: “Let me remind you that a Schedule III does not put marijuana on the market in the United States. With all due respect, I think [cannabis] is differentiable from heroin and, I think, cigarettes.”

 Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY) also chimed into the conversation to suggest that the FDA was putting political priorities over the American people. He said the agency continues to refuse to regulate hemp and CBD products unless it receives authorization from Congress and federal funding from Congress. 

 Interestingly, the 2018 Farm Bill was passed by a Republican-held Senate and signed by Republican President Donald Trump without advice or recommendations from federal agencies like the FDA. It was this piece of legislation that legalized hemp cultivation and subsequently flooded the market with hemp-derived CBD products. Now, many Republicans are criticizing hemp in addition to pushing the DEA to leave marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. 

 When asked again by Rep. James Comer what the FDA planned to do to regulate hemp products, Califf offered a brief response, saying, “It’s Congress’s decision to make, so we would really look forward to working with you all as quickly as possible to come up with a regulatory pathway that you think is reasonable and enables us to take action.”

 The Republican-held House has failed time and again to present or even vote on any meaningful cannabis or hemp reform legislation.

When Can You Expect a DEA Rescheduling Decision?

 There is no way to know when the DEA will hand down its rescheduling decision. Pressure has come from both sides of the aisle, with conservatives pushing the agency to reject the recommendation to reschedule marijuana quickly. In contrast, Democrats like Vice President Kamala Harris continue to urge the DEA to finish its review and reschedule marijuana “as quickly as possible.” For many in the party, this represents a major position change relative to where they were as recently as just a few years ago.

 The DEA has made clear that it refuses to make a hasty decision and that the ultimate power to reschedule marijuana rests in its hands. The agency has yet to release a timeline on when it may decide the fate of cannabis. One DEA official has said it could take up to six months for the agency to complete its analysis and review the information provided by the FDA, which handed its recommendation to the DEA back in August 2023. 

Want to stay on top of the latest developments in the world of cannabis? Cannabutter Digest delivers groundbreaking newsrecipes, and product reviews for cannabis enthusiasts. Please bookmark our site and return often for more cannabis content. 

  • No products in the cart.