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West Palm Beach Criminal Lawyer / Blog / Drug Crimes / Federal Agency Officially Recommends Rescheduling Cannabis

Federal Agency Officially Recommends Rescheduling Cannabis


Both U.S. federal law and the law of the states categorize drugs into schedules, with Schedule I substances having high potential for addiction or abuse and no accepted medical usage. As of this writing, cannabis is a Schedule I drug, treated as highly addictive and dangerous. However, attitudes on its medical uses are changing, and in late 2023, the Department of Health & Human Services made an official recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to change it from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule III substance. This would make significant changes to many drug laws – though some would remain in place.

Positives For Medical Patients

Cannabis has been demonized for decades, seen as a gateway drug to harder substances and held responsible for all types of antisocial behavior. While research is still developing as to its long-term safety, it is undeniable that multiple medical uses have been discovered for the drug, such as pain control and reducing symptoms of conditions like glaucoma. Thus, there has been a nascent movement to legalize the drug nationwide or at least to decriminalize certain uses.

As of this writing, the DEA is currently conducting its own evaluation of whether cannabis should be moved into Schedule III, based on its “five-factor” test. If it does move to Schedule III, it is important to keep in mind that this will not mean possession or trafficking in cannabis will be decriminalized; rather, it will potentially increase the availability of cannabis and its related products because more clinical trials can be conducted on its uses. This can help patients with conditions that respond to cannabis – but will unfortunately do little for those accused of possessing the drug.

Cannabis Crimes Will Still Be Prosecuted Aggressively

Even if cannabis is changed to a Schedule III drug, its possession and trafficking are still serious crimes under both federal and Florida law. Florida’s past history as a hotbed of cartel activity means that the state’s drug laws are harsh, and conviction of either of these offenses can lead to jail time, fines, and other long-term consequences. While simple possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis will usually be charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, possession, distribution, or trafficking of any higher amount will be at least a third-degree felony, carrying no less than 5 years in prison if convicted.

A recent bill put before the Florida legislature would seek to lower the penalties on first, second, and third-time offenders found in possession of 20 grams of cannabis if passed. However, this is the only offense that the legislature intends to accord this treatment, and only a small percentage of drug offenders would benefit from this change. As it seems now, felony possession of cannabis will continue to be prosecuted aggressively in the state of Florida.

Contact A West Palm Beach Drug Offenses Attorney

If you have been charged with a cannabis-related drug offense, a West Palm Beach drug offenses attorney from Perlet & Shiner, P.A. can help you navigate the legal process. Contact our office today at (561) 721-0552 to speak to an attorney.



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