Potential Timeline and Projected Results Regarding the Federal Review of Cannabis Scheduling

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Several agencies are reportedly working together to review the scheduling of cannabis, with a final decision anticipated to come later this year.

Following through with President Biden’s October 2022 request, US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, recently stated that a review of the scheduling of cannabis–currently a Schedule I substance, which is defined as having a high potential for abuse as well as no accepted medical use–was underway and gave an anticipated timeline of completion (1,2).

Secretary Becerra further said that the HHS, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are currently working to review how cannabis is treated and reexamine its schedule status (1). He explained that the review will reportedly be based in evidence; the FDA is carrying out an eight-step scientific review (1).

“Stay tuned,” Becerra stated (1). “We hope to be able to get there pretty soon—hopefully this year.”


An article recently published in Bloomberg Law presented some of the subsequent outcomes that could result from this review of cannabis (3). Cannabis will likely not stay a Schedule I drug, the article explained, and nor would it be descheduled, because that may require an act of Congress and because of cannabis’ psychoactive properties (3).

“More plausibly, the review of scientific evidence will lead the FDA to make a more moderate recommendation: Keep cannabis on the list of controlled substances but move it to a more appropriate schedule,” the authors stated (3). “This is sub-optimal for those who argue in favor of ‘de-schedule or bust,’ but provides significant upside to the small and large businesses in this burgeoning cannabis marketplace—as long as marijuana is correctly placed in Schedule III, IV, or V through this administrative process.”

The article also explored arguments considering cannabis’ demonstrated medical use, its abuse potential compared to fentanyl's, the taxes on cannabis businesses, and explained what role the FDA would most likely play in regulating cannabis moving forward (3).

“The industry should get comfortable with the benefits that Schedule III, IV, or V would reap,” the article concluded (3). “Sometimes in Washington, we must take the incremental win and then continue the longer battle. An all-or-nothing approach could have serious consequences for the industry that supports 500,000 jobs. Moving cannabis to schedules III, IV or V is a step in the right direction that will buy much-needed time.”


  1. Jaeger, K. Feds aim to finish Cannabis Scheduling Review “This year,” top Biden official tells Marijuana Moment (accessed Jun 29, 2023).
  2. (accessed Jun 29, 2023).
  3. Kline, A.; Tobin, T. Marijuana laws need incremental reform to spur the most change (accessed Jun 29, 2023).