The Biden administration will take a historic step toward easing federal restrictions on cannabis, with plans to announce an interim rule soon reclassifying the drug for the first time since the Controlled Substances Act was enacted more than 50 years ago, four sources with knowledge of the decision tell NBC News.

The Drug Enforcement Administration is expected to approve an opinion by the Department of Health and Human Services that marijuana should be reclassified from the most strict Schedule I to the less stringent Schedule III, marking the first time that the U.S. government would acknowledge its potential medical benefits and begin studying them in earnest.

Attorney General Merrick Garland submitted the rescheduling proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Tuesday afternoon, a source familiar with the situation confirmed to NBC News.

Any reclassification is still months from going into effect. After the proposal is published in the Federal Register, there will be a 60-day public comment period. The proposal will then be reviewed by an administrative law judge, who could decide to hold a hearing before the rule is approved.