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Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell: Easing federal marijuana restrictions would be a mistake

Arizonans have had access to legal marijuana on a medical and recreational level for some time after voters decisively approved Proposition 207 in 2020, legalizing recreational use of the drug for adults over age 21.

However, cannabis remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substance Act at the federal level — completely illegal alongside drugs like heroin and ecstasy. 

But now, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is recommending easing those restrictions, reclassifying cannabis to a lower level — saying it has moderate to low potential for dependence and abuse, a drug on par with ketamine. The move comes after the Biden administration requested a review last year, and it’s being applauded by marijuana advocates.

The Show spoke with Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell about how this shift could change the legal landscape here in Arizona.

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Lauren Gilger, host of KJZZ's The Show, is an award-winning journalist whose work has impacted communities large and small, exposing injustices and giving a voice to the voiceless and marginalized.