EXCLUSIVE: We Analyzed 4,000+ DEA Marijuana Rescheduling Comments; Here's What Americans Really Think


The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently proposed a set of rules to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This proposed rule set, announced on May 21, 2024, marks a significant shift in federal drug policy, reflecting an evolving understanding of marijuana's medical use and its comparatively lower potential for abuse.

Benzinga Cannabis did a comprehensive analysis of more than 4,000 public comments submitted until May 23, which revealed strong support for the DEA's proposed rescheduling. Out of the total comments analyzed, 75.9% were positive, 21.2% were neutral, and only 2.8% were negative. This sentiment analysis underscores a broad consensus in favor of the proposed reclassification, with many commenters highlighting the medical benefits and the need for federal policy to align with state laws and scientific evidence.

Sentiment Analysis Of Public Comments

Sentiment Percentage
Positive 75.9%
Neutral 21.2%
Negative 2.8%

Widespread Support And Personal Testimonies

Many commenters shared personal stories and expressed their support for the rescheduling. One wrote, "Do it. I mean you made alcohol legal, and marijuana is less dangerous." This sentiment was echoed by numerous others who pointed out the comparative harm between alcohol and marijuana.

Another commenter emphasized the potential impact on housing and justice. "Housing is a human right, but too many people are losing their homes due to cannabis-related offenses. Rescheduling could alleviate some of this injustice."

Calls For Complete Descheduling

While the majority of comments supported rescheduling to Schedule III, there were also voices advocating for the complete descheduling of marijuana. A cannabis nurse expressed this view: "As a cannabis nurse, rescheduling will NOT provide the protection patients need. It needs to be descheduled completely to allow for proper medical use and research."

Key Highlights from Public Comments

  1. Support for Rescheduling

    • Comparison to Alcohol: "It's completely absurd that marijuana is illegal while alcohol, which is more harmful, is legal. Rescheduling is a step in the right direction."
    • Medical Benefits: "Should be rescheduled as it’s not as dangerous as substances like heroin or methamphetamine. The medical benefits are undeniable."
      • Need for Complete Descheduling: "Cannabis needs to be completely descheduled. This halfway measure still leaves many unnecessary restrictions in place."
      • Critique of Current Policies: "Pre-employment drug tests for THC are stupid and discriminatory. Rescheduling might be a step towards ending this unfair practice."
    • Personal Impact: "I struggle with MS, a disease for which there are no cures. Medical marijuana has been a lifeline for me. This rescheduling could make a huge difference in accessibility and legal protection."

Public Participation And Next Steps

The DOJ and DEA have emphasized the importance of public participation in the decision-making process. Comments and requests for hearings must be submitted electronically or postmarked within 60 days of the publication in the Federal Register. This inclusive approach aims to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the proposed rule.

Key Takeaways

The analysis of public comments reveals a strong consensus in favor of rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. The majority of commenters support the move, citing medical benefits, alignment with state laws, and the need for more rational drug policies. However, there are also significant calls for complete descheduling to fully address the restrictions on medical use and research.

Detailed Breakdown Of Public Sentiments

Category Example Comment
Support "Do it. I mean you made alcohol legal, and marijuana is less dangerous."
Medical Use "Marijuana has medical properties and is a medicine for many patients. The rescheduling will help millions who need it for their health."
Complete Descheduling "Cannabis should be COMPLETELY decriminalized! Rescheduling is only a partial solution and does not go far enough to address the issues."
Critique "Pre-employment drug tests for THC are stupid and discriminatory. Rescheduling might be a step towards ending this unfair practice."

Comments On The Proposed Rules

Positive Comments:

  1. "I support rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. It’s a necessary move to recognize its medical use and reduce stigma."
  2. "Hello, my name is Vee and I am a 21-year-old female who uses cannabis to manage my chronic pain. This rescheduling will make a huge difference for patients like me."

Neutral Comments:

  1. "Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the rescheduling of marijuana. This move is long overdue and essential for aligning federal policy with scientific evidence and state laws."
  2. "Put it under the same schedule, regulations, and restrictions as alcohol. It’s time for our laws to reflect the reality of marijuana’s benefits."

Negative Comments:

  1. "Cannabis needs to be completely descheduled. This halfway measure still leaves many unnecessary restrictions in place."
  2. "Rescheduling will not provide the necessary protections. We need full descheduling to allow for proper medical use and research."


The proposed rescheduling of marijuana to Schedule III represents a pivotal moment in federal drug policy. Public participation is crucial in shaping the final decision, marking a significant step towards aligning federal regulations with evolving scientific and societal views on marijuana. The broad support reflected in the public comments underscores the importance of this policy shift and its potential to impact medical research, legal regulations, and the cannabis industry.

Note On Methodology And Aggregated Results

The analysis of public comments submitted for the DEA’s proposed rescheduling of marijuana involved categorizing each comment based on sentiment. To do that we divided over 4,000 comments into batches of 50 and used predefined keywords to classify sentiments as positive, neutral, or negative. Positive keywords included ‘support,’ ‘agree,’ ‘positive,’ ‘good,’ ‘beneficial,’ and ‘necessary,’ while negative keywords included ‘oppose,’ ‘disagree,’ ‘negative,’ ‘bad,’ ‘harmful,’ and ‘unnecessary.’

The aggregated results showed that 75.9% of the comments were positive, 21.2% were neutral and 2.8% were negative. Many of the negative keywords were related to concerns that rescheduling did not go far enough, with commenters advocating for complete descheduling. Given the keyword-based methodology and potential sources of error, we estimate an approximate confidence level of 85% to 95% for these results.


  • Support DEA’s Proposal (Rescheduling): 9.6%
  • Support DEA’s Proposal but Advocate for Descheduling/Complete Legalization: 71.1%
  • Oppose DEA’s Proposal Completely (Against Cannabis Legalization): 2.3%
  • Neutral: 17.0%

This content was partially produced with the help of AI tools and was reviewed and published by Benzinga editors.

Cover image: AI.

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