Governors Urge Biden To Reschedule Marijuana By The End Of This Year

Governors Urge Biden To Reschedule Marijuana By The End Of This Year

The governors of six states have jointly written a letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to ensure marijuana is rescheduled by the end of this year.

The letter, signed by the governors of Colorado, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York, emphasizes that rescheduling marijuana, as outlined in the document published on December 5 and initially reported by Marijuana Moment, would bring economic and tax advantages for marijuana businesses. Additionally, it highlights the potential to safeguard public health and bring government policy into closer alignment with public opinion.

Currently classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is labeled as a dangerous substance, sharing the same categorization as heroin. However, rescheduling it to Schedule III, designating it as a lower-risk drug would offer increased protection for the already established state-level marijuana industry and its consumers in terms of both the economy and public health.

In October of the previous year, Biden asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Attorney General to start a review of marijuana's schedule, with the possibility of reclassifying it away from Schedule I.

On August 29, HHS sent a letter to Anne Milgram, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency, calling for the reclassification of marijuana to Schedule III.

However, there has been a lack of notable progress since then in the effort to move marijuana into Schedule III.

In their letter, the governors back the call for marijuana rescheduling to President Biden, highlighting that 38 states, representing 72% of the population, have legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical purposes. Additionally, the letter emphasizes that an 88% majority supports legalization for medical or recreational use, according to a 2022 Pew Research survey.

The economic benefits further reinforce the endorsement of marijuana rescheduling.

The letter states that state programs have delivered $15 billion in tax revenue "to states for use in education, law enforcement, and other gubernatorial priorities that have been historically underfunded."

From an economic standpoint, the letter outlines that reclassifying marijuana to Schedule III would ease the constraints imposed by Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code. This adjustment would enable marijuana-related businesses to claim ordinary business deductions, aligning them with the standard practice for all businesses in the U.S.

The governors explain in the letter that by freeing marijuana businesses from the obligations of Section 280E, the industry is poised to become financially viable, simultaneously safeguarding numerous jobs and ensuring the health and safety of American consumers.

"As governors, we might disagree about whether recreational cannabis legalization or even cannabis use is a net positive, but we agree that the cannabis industry is here to stay, the states have created strong regulations, and supporting the state-regulated marketplace is essential for the safety of the American people," the letter says.

The six governors highlight the risk to consumer health due to the absence of a federal marijuana policy, emphasizing concerns about unregulated products. They advocate for marijuana rescheduling to provide added protection against the unlicensed market and argue that maintaining its Schedule I status and prohibition policies is ineffective given the significant consumer demand for cannabis.

"That fact will not change regardless of the public policy choices that we make. If people want the product, they will procure the product, as they always have," the letter reads.

The adoption of HHS's recommendation by the DEA, which holds final authority over drug scheduling under the CSA, remains uncertain.

HHS has suggested a DEA review to assess the potential rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule I.

Historically, the DEA has rejected rescheduling several times, citing reasons such as a lack of known and reproducible chemistry, insufficient safety and efficacy studies, and limited acceptance by experts.

The DEA's decision, when reached, will include a proposed rule and notice-and-comment period and may face potential legal challenges. But at the moment, there is no specific timeframe for the DEA's decision.

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Region: United States

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