FDA Urges DEA to Expedite Marijuana Scheduling Decision, Congress to Provide Regulatory Guidance

FDA Urges DEA to Expedite Marijuana Scheduling Decision, Congress to Provide Regulatory Guidance

FDA Commissioner Robert Califf urged the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to promptly make a decision on marijuana scheduling during a hearing before the House Oversight and Accountability Committee. Califf emphasized that there’s “no reason” for the DEA to delay its decision and expressed a desire to see a regulatory scheme for cannabis in his lifetime.

The hearing was prompted by a recommendation from the FDA, under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to reschedule cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act. However, the timeline for the scheduling review is determined by the DEA.

While Califf acknowledged that additional regulatory responsibilities may be necessary if cannabis is rescheduled, he emphasized the complexity of the issue, especially given the dominance of state regulations in the cannabis space. He stressed the need for guidance from Congress on how to proceed with regulation, particularly regarding the distinction between medical and recreational cannabis use.

The hearing also addressed concerns about hemp-derived intoxicating cannabinoids and the lack of regulations surrounding these products. Califf expressed a desire for a regulatory scheme that addresses safety issues, regardless of individual beliefs about cannabis use.

Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer criticized the FDA for its failure to regulate hemp products such as CBD, accusing the agency of prioritizing bureaucratic interests over public safety. Califf responded by highlighting the challenges of regulating CBD under the current framework and expressed a willingness to work with Congress to develop a regulatory pathway.

The hearing underscored the ongoing debate surrounding cannabis regulation at the federal level, with stakeholders calling for clarity and guidance from Congress to address the complexities of the issue.

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