The United States Drug Enforcement Administration will reportedly decide in the coming months whether to reschedule marijuana, an unexpected announcement that indicates the federal government is taking the issue seriously.
While removing marijuana from the list of Schedule 1 substances wouldn’t necessarily make the plant fully legal, it could have major ramifications for those in the industry, especially when it comes to taxes and banking.
The DEA stated its plans to make a decision by mid-year in a letter it sent to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and seven of her colleagues, according to the Huffington Post.
Warren and her compatriots urged the DEA last year to consider rescheduling marijuana to facilitate more research into the medical benefits of the plant.
The DEA gave no indication of which way it’s leaning, the Huffington Post reported.
The agency could decide to move marijuana off the list of Schedule I drugs. Or the DEA could simply say it has decided unilaterally that marijuana remains a dangerous narcotic with no acceptable medical uses (the current definition of a Schedule I substance).
“DEA understands the widespread interest in the prompt resolution to these petitions and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016,” reads the letter, which was signed by acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg.
Twice previously, in 2001 and 2006, the DEA considered rescheduling marijuana but left it as a Schedule I drug.