Criminal Defense Attorney Columbia, South Carolina

Marijuana Reclassification Expected to Reshape U.S. Drug Policy

Marijuana leaf and a wooden gavel isolated on wood background.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration plans to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous substance, pending a White House Office of Management and Budget review. This significant policy change acknowledges cannabis's medical benefits and lower abuse potential compared to more harmful drugs. However, it doesn't fully legalize recreational use.

Five anonymous sources confirmed this move, which overcomes a major regulatory obstacle and sets the stage for the DEA's most substantial policy shift in over five decades.

The current state of federal marijuana reclassification

Once the Office of Management and Budget approves, the DEA will invite public feedback on reclassifying marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. This follows a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services. The DEA will issue the final rule after public comments and an administrative judge's review.

President Joe Biden's October 2022 call for reassessing federal marijuana policies included pardoning thousands of Americans convicted of simple possession. He urged state governors and local leaders to expunge marijuana convictions as well. In December, Biden pointed out that criminal records for marijuana use and possession create unnecessary obstacles to employment, housing, and education.

Biden, with bipartisan lawmakers, supports DEA action as attitudes toward marijuana liberalize. A recent Gallup poll shows 70% of adults support legalization, up from 30% in 2000.

How would marijuana reclassification affect federal drug policy?

Federal drug policy often lags behind state initiatives, with 38 states permitting medical marijuana and 24 allowing recreational use. Easing federal restrictions could alleviate heavy tax burdens on businesses, which can exceed 70%, and simplify marijuana research, currently hindered by its Schedule I classification.

The immediate impact of rescheduling on the criminal justice system might be limited, as federal prosecutions for simple possession are rare. Critics argue that the DEA would still regulate marijuana. This would require about 15,000 cannabis dispensaries in the U.S. to register like traditional pharmacies and meet stringent reporting obligations.

Additionally, the U.S. faces constraints from international treaties, particularly the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, which mandates cannabis criminalization. In 2016, the Obama administration's DEA cited these international duties and a federal court decision to deny a similar request to reclassify marijuana.

What are the legal consequences of schedule III drugs?

Schedule III drugs have moderate to low potential for dependence. They're regulated under the Controlled Substances Act and have significant legal consequences. Possession without a valid prescription is illegal and can result in fines and imprisonment. However, authorized entities such as pharmacies and hospitals can distribute them under strict regulations. Prescriptions must be recorded and available for regulatory inspection.

Manufacturers must be DEA-registered and comply with stringent standards. Penalties for violations include fines and imprisonment, with harsher penalties for repeat offenders.

Is marijuana legal in South Carolina?

In South Carolina, marijuana possession, distribution, and trafficking are illegal, and all carry serious legal consequences. Possession of one ounce or less is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $200 for a first offense. Penalties for possession increase with subsequent offenses.

Distribution, manufacturing, or possession with intent to distribute less than 10 pounds is a felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. Trafficking 10 to 100 pounds carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year in prison and a fine of $10,000. Larger quantities involve even harsher penalties.

Furthermore, convictions for any marijuana-related offenses result in a criminal record, which can have long-term impacts on employment, housing, and other crucial aspects of life.

Act now against marijuana charges and get help from an experienced South Carolina attorney

Are you facing marijuana charges in South Carolina? The consequences could be harsh and long-lasting, including difficulties finding employment and housing. Make sure you have a knowledgeable attorney who understands the law and knows how to fight marijuana-related charges.

Attorney Matt Bodman has nearly 20 years of experience in criminal defense. He can help you devise a legal strategy to fight or reduce your charges. He can also ensure your rights are protected, and you're treated fairly in the South Carolina justice system. Tell us what happened and find out how we can help. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Categories: Posts
South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense LawyersSouth Carolina Association of Criminal Defense LawyersSouth Carolina BarSouth Carolina BarSouth Carolina Association for JusticeSouth Carolina Association for JusticeRichland County Bar AssociationRichland County Bar Association2020 Legal Elite of the Midlands2020 Legal Elite of the Midlands