A new cannabis reform bill would reclassify marijuana as Schedule III, a category that includes Tylenol, codeine, and testosterone.
United States Congressman Greg Steube (R-FL) introduced a bill last week that would reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act. The legislation is appropriately titled the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act of 2019.
“As marijuana is legalized for medical and recreational use across the United States, it is important that we study the effects of the substance and the potential impacts it can have on various populations,” Steube, a first-term congressman from Southern Florida, said in a press release.
By rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I controlled substance to a schedule III controlled substance, the opportunities for research and study are drastically expanded.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I substance, a category reserved for substances considered to have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Marijuana joins heroin, LSD, and methamphetamine in this category.
Steube’s new bill, which is remarkable for its length of being only two pages, gives the U.S. Attorney General 60 days to make changes to the Controlled Substance Act to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III.
According to the DEA, “Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV.”
Drugs classified as Schedule III include Tylenol, codeine, and testosterone.
Fueling Marijuana Research with Rescheduling
As a schedule III substance, marijuana would be more thoroughly studied by certified research centers at colleges. Researchers would no longer have to deal with the regulatory hurdles associated with studying a Schedule I substance, and they would be able to access federal funds.
Stuebe believes it’s necessary to investigate the potential therapeutic value of cannabis.
“We hear every day about the positive health benefits of marijuana. Whether it’s young children with seizure disorders, or veterans suffering from chronic pain, it is clear that there are medical benefits to marijuana and I think it’s time we remove the bureaucratic red tape that prevents us from thoroughly studying this substance,” said Steube.
Steube’s bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, whose Chairman, Jerry Nadler (D-NY), has become supportive of marijuana reform. Earlier this year, the committee held a hearing on the legalization of a marijuana, a first for Congress.
Other Cannabis Reform Efforts
Similar bills to reschedule marijuana have also been introduced into Congress recently.
Last week, two Members of Congress from Florida, Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), introduced a bipartisan bill that would reclassify marijuana to a Schedule III drug. Its companion bill in the Senate was introduced by Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-NY).
The bill is very similar to Steube’s and even shares a co-sponsor in Gaetz, a vocal supporter of rescheduling cannabis to encourage research.