HHS Supports FDA's Call: Recommends Rescheduling Cannabis for Medical Purposes

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The HHS finds conclusive evidence for medical cannabis use and agreed with the FDA’s recommendation to reschedule cannabis as a Schedule III drug.

Recently, officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the department agrees with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) conclusion which was that there is conclusive evidence highlighting medical benefits through the use of cannabis (1,2). On January 15, 2024, the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled a 252 page unredacted review (1,2). In the review, the agency backs the FDA’s decision to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug of the US Controlled Substances Act (2). This action would aid cannabis by loosening the federal government’s restrictions (1).

In 2022, the Biden Administration asked for “the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Attorney General to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law,” (1,2). By proceeding through these agencies, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will be the organization to have the final say on cannabis’s reclassification but representatives from the DEA and HHS will share their opinions before a formal decision is made and will need to review research that has been performed on the plant.


Norml (2) reported that the unredacted documents provide the Department of Health and Human Services’ stance. The agency states (2), “Pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), I, the Assistant Secretary for Health, am recommending that marijuana, referring to botanical cannabis, … be controlled in Schedule III of the CSA.”

In August 2023 (3) the HHS recommended the change in scheduling but their review was not released. Here, a DEA Spokesperson reminded cannabis supporters that (3), “As part of this process, HHS conducted a scientific and medical evaluation for consideration by DEA. DEA has the final authority to schedule or reschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act. DEA will now initiate its review.” In November 2023 (4), released a letter from HHS’s August 2023 announcement, to the DEA regarding the scheduling of cannabis.

With the FDA and HHS agencies having completed their reviews, all eyes turn to the DEA who will have the power to reschedule cannabis which will be a big step forward for medical cannabis.


  1. Fertig, N. Federal Scientists Conclude There is Credible Evidence for Certain Medical Uses of Marijuana,federal%20restrictions%20on%20the%20drug (accessed Jan 15, 2024).
  2. Norml. HHS Releases Unredacted Letter Confirming Agency’s Recommendation to DEA to Reclassify Marijuana to Schedule III (accessed Jan 15, 2024).
  3. Colli, M.; McEvoy, E. Shifting Tides: US Department of Health and Human Services Recommends Cannabis Rescheduling from Schedule I to Schedule III (accessed Jan 15, 2024).
  4. McEvoy, E. Content Remains Confidential in HHS Letter About Rescheduling (accessed Jan 15, 2024).