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ALTON - Taralei Griffin, known as Alton’s Fairy Herbmother, is educating people on the latest push to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently approved a recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services to reclassify cannabis under federal law. The decision is currently open for a public comment period until July 22, 2024, and Griffin encourages people to make their voices heard.

“It would be a very big step forward,” Griffin said of rescheduling the drug. “Not only would it help with more people getting access, it won’t be as heavily penalized in states where it’s still not legalized.”

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The DEA classifies drugs into five different categories. Schedule I drugs are considered “dangerous, highly addictive potential, with no medicinal benefit,” Griffin said. Schedule I drugs include heroin, methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy) and lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD). Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I drug.

Schedule III, the proposed class for cannabis, refers to drugs “with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence,” according to the DEA. Ketamine and testosterone are Schedule III drugs.

Griffin noted that by rescheduling cannabis to Schedule III, schools and laboratories would have more funding to research the drug. It would also be a step toward the federal legalization of cannabis, though she pointed out that the rescheduling of cannabis will not affect the thousands of people who are currently incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses.

“One of the big things about this is even if it’s rescheduled, without the president making some sort of action as well or without us getting some other laws passed, it’s not going to do anything for the people who have already been affected by this,” Griffin said. “There will still be people in prison. There will still be people with charges. It’s not going to drop anyone’s charges. It’s not going to stop people from continuing to be arrested or charged. It just slightly lowers the level of what charges you would be receiving.”

With a degree in cannabis science from St. Louis University, Griffin ultimately hopes that cannabis will be descheduled altogether. Until then, she encourages people to take advantage of the public comment period. You can visit LastPrisonerProject.org/Rescheduling for more information about the rescheduling and how to submit a public comment.

“We do have this information. We do know that it has medical benefits. So at the very least, yes, absolutely it needs to be rescheduled from Schedule I,” Griffin added. “But there’s so much more we could do, really. As a plant that’s very safe, it should be removed from the schedule and people should stop being arrested and having their lives ruined over it.”

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