Enlarge / Medical marijuana growing in a facility in Canada. (credit: Getty | Richard Lautens)

The US Drug Enforcement Administration is preparing to reclassify marijuana to a lower-risk drug category, a major federal policy change that is in line with recommendations from the US health department last year. The upcoming move was first reported by the Associated Press on Tuesday afternoon and has since been confirmed by several other outlets.

The DEA currently designates marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, defined as drugs “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” It puts marijuana in league with LSD and heroin. According to the reports today, the DEA is moving to reclassify it as a Schedule 3 drug, defined as having “a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” The move would place marijuana in the ranks of ketamine, testosterone, and products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine.

Marijuana’s rescheduling would be a nod to its potential medical benefits and would shift federal policy in line with many states. To date, 38 states have already legalized medical marijuana.

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