Democrats urge Biden administration to deschedule Marijuana

Democrats urge Biden administration to deschedule Marijuana

12 Senate Democrats, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, urged the DEA in a letter to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act altogether.

Senate Democrats are putting new pressure on the Biden administration to ease federal restrictions on marijuana in a new letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday as it considers rescheduling cannabis after it was federally classified more than five decades ago.

The Department of Health and Human Services formally recommended in August that the DEA move the drug from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act, or CSA, prompting a monthslong review, which continues.

The letter, from 12 senators led by Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and John Fetterman, D-Pa., and signed by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., goes further.

“The case for removing marijuana from Schedule I is overwhelming. The DEA should do so by removing cannabis from the CSA altogether, rather than simply placing it in a lower schedule,” the senators wrote in the letter, first obtained by NBC News.

Rescheduling the drug or removing it entirely would have significant implications for the marijuana industry and for cannabis users, some of whom consume it for medical purposes.

Since 1971, cannabis has been under Schedule I, the highest classification of the CSA, along with drugs like heroin and LSD, which the government formally considers to have high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Even so, 40 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized some form of cannabis, for either recreational or medical use, leaving consumers and business owners to operate in a patchwork of changing laws across the country.

The DEA told lawmakers this month that despite the historic recommendation by the Department of Health and Human Services over the summer, it “has the final authority to schedule, reschedule, or deschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act” based on scientific and medical evaluation.

The White House had hoped to make a rescheduling announcement close to the one-year mark since President Joe Biden ordered the DEA to review HHS’ recommendation in October 2022 and to use it as a campaign issue at the ballot box in November, according to five sources with knowledge of the situation.

Senate Democrats argued in Tuesday’s letter that the Biden administration should “promptly” remove the drug from Schedule I before it ultimately deschedules it.

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Region: United States

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