The federal government is reviewing its heavy-handed restrictions on marijuana, Food and Drug Administration officials confirmed Monday.
This is potentially huge news for marijuana legalization and medical marijuana advocates. If the review finds any medical value in marijuana, it could mark the beginning of the most significant shift in American drug policy since the war on drugs began in the 1970s.
There are, however, quite a few steps between the review and the government relaxing its restrictions. Here is a primer on what’s going on.
What will the government’s review of marijuana cover?
At the Drug Enforcement Administration’s request, the FDA will review whether the US should continue classifying marijuana as a schedule 1 drug.
The review, in short, is potentially the first step toward decriminalizing pot at the federal level. The federal government uses a scheduling system to classify what drugs are considered the most dangerous and therefore most restricted. Schedule 1 drugs are supposed to have no medical value and the highest potential for abuse, while schedule 2, 3, 4, and 5 substances are perceived to be less dangerous.