Marijuana is a staple of the world of drug crimes, though in controversial fashion. Over the years, the calls for marijuana to be decriminalized have grown louder and the topic is no longer on the fringe, as if it shouldn't be talked about. To the contrary, the topic is at the forefront of the criminal justice system, and with states in the United States changing their laws to allow people to possess recreational amounts of marijuana, you can see that the times are changing.
Enter the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), which will consider changing the "schedule" of marijuana in the coming months. How a drug or substance is "scheduled" determines how punishing the consequences are when someone possess or distributes the drug or substance. The higher the schedule, the more punishing it is for the offender.
In addition, the lower the schedule, the easier it is for researchers to study the substance or drug and determine the beneficial or harmful effects of it.
Currently, marijuana is a "Schedule I" substance, which means offenders are subject to the harshest punishments and researchers are limited in their ability to study it. Though it is unclear what the DEA could do with marijuana and how it will be rescheduled, it is a major breakthrough for the rescheduling to even be considered. Apparently the DEA have only rescheduled a Schedule I to a Schedule II five times.
With a reduction in marijuana's schedule would come a big change to the potential consequences for people awaiting their drug case to be heard.
Source: Washington Times, "DEA to decide within months whether to change federal status of marijuana," Andrea Noble, April 6, 2016