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DEA wants to ease restrictions on marijuana, a South Florida doctor explains what that means

MIAMI The US Drug Enforcement Agency could Ease restrictions on marijuana and said they would reclassify it as a less dangerous drug.

“This is great news,” said Dr. Michelle Weiner, who provides cannabis and psychedelic treatments for patients. “We have 50 million people suffering from chronic pain, and every 38 minutes one person dies from an opioid overdose. So this is an opportunity for people to find another substitute that will help them reduce their medication intake and make them feel better.”

It is also a historical change over decades American drug policythe DEA's biggest policy change in more than 50 years.

South Floridians are divided over the proposal.

“A while ago they put two fried eggs in a pan and they always said that's your brain on marijuana,” said a man who declined to identify himself but still sees marijuana as a deadly drug.

“With teenagers, I see that marijuana could be like a gateway drug to other drugs,” said Laura Budnechky, a nurse at Baptist Hospital, who added that she sees both sides of the argument.

The plan is to move marijuana from its current classification to one as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD Schedule III drug alongside ketamine and some anabolic steroids.

“I think it's pretty fair, a lot of people need it for medical reasons and people are functional when they use this drug,” Budnechky said.

Nick Garulay, CEO and founder of My Florida Green, is on a mission to increase access to medical marijuana. He has more than 40,000 patients in the state.

“Federal employees are afraid of losing their jobs if they use medical marijuana. It is still a drug that is banned at the federal level,” Garulay said. “If it is reclassified as a Schedule 3 drug, it will definitely create great opportunities for legitimate medical marijuana facilities.”

Dr. Weiner said recreational use had nothing to do with it, “it's just the use as medicine.”

The DEA proposal is not final; it must be reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget and then the plan will be subject to public comment to make a decision. The process could take months.

Anna Harden

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