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AAP ‘would welcome the chance to comment’ on proposed marijuana reclassification

May 2, 2024

As federal officials take steps to reclassify marijuana as a lower-risk drug, AAP leaders say they welcome the opportunity to weigh in to ensure the health of children and adolescents is taken into account.

“Pediatricians understand that marijuana use is harmful to children’s development,” AAP President Benjamin D. Hoffman, M.D., FAAP, said. “If the White House were to issue this proposed rule, AAP would welcome the chance to comment with our recommendations, focusing on how to best protect child health and safety.”

Last fall, President Joe Biden asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Justice to look into reclassifying marijuana, following up on a promise from his last campaign, according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

“He said no person, no American who … only possesses marijuana should go to jail,” Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing Wednesday. “It is affecting communities across the country, including communities of color, and so this is why he asked HHS and the Department of Justice to look into this.”

She said that process is continuing and would not confirm recent media reports the process had taken new steps forward to make marijuana a schedule III drug instead of schedule I.

Schedule III drugs are those “with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence,” according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. This class includes ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.

Marijuana is a schedule I drug, which the agency defines as those “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” This category includes heroin, ecstasy and LSD. The proposed changes would not legalize recreational marijuana, according to the Associated Press.

A reclassification must undergo several steps, including a public comment period, during which time the AAP can provide its expertise on marijuana’s impact on the developing bodies and brains of children and teens.

Marijuana can cause problems with short-term memory, concentration and problem-solving skills. It can hurt school performance, decrease reaction time, damage lungs and contribute to injuries and deaths. Marijuana also can be addictive and has been linked with serious mental health disorders, including depression and psychosis.

The AAP believes in protecting youths from marijuana through prevention and treatment in a medical setting, not through jail time that can impact a young person’s education and job opportunities.

The AAP previously recommended changing marijuana from a schedule I to a schedule II drug to facilitate research on pharmaceutical cannabinoids.

 

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