A group of 12 state attorneys general have signed a letter encouraging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to reschedule cannabis to Schedule III under the USA’s federal Controlled Substances Act.
In October 2022, US President Joe Biden announced an initiative to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule I substance under the CSA, meaning among things it has no accepted medical use. Given 38 states now have medical cannabis laws in some form, the “no accepted medical use” really doesn’t apply.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has since carried out a review and recommended to the DEA that marijuana should be rescheduled to Schedule III. But the DEA has final say and is taking its time in doing so.
In the letter to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, the signatories state rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III will allow state-regulated cannabis industries to:
- continue to set the standard for legal products
- work to eliminate the illicit market and unregulated intoxicating hemp products.
- increase research capabilities
- allow legitimate cannabis businesses ordinary tax deductions
“For these reasons, we encourage the DEA to implement a final rule scheduling cannabis to Schedule III based on the Federal Drug Administration’s scientific and medical conclusions,” states the letter. “We see this as a public safety imperative and write in support of this policy change.”
Legal cannabis is big business. It has been predicted that by 2027, retail cannabis sales will exceed $53 billion nationally. States are also benefiting through the collection of taxes. An example is Colorado, where the cannabis industry has generated more than $15 billion in sales since regulated recreational sales began back in 2014. The state has collected more than $2.6 billion in marijuana taxes since that time.
“Colorado is committed to protecting the integrity of its first-in-the-nation regulated cannabis market,” said Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, who led the group of signatories. “We also are confident that a well-regulated market for cannabis products best protects consumers, and this action of rescheduling cannabis will better enable that market to function.”
The state attorneys general who signed the letter are from Colorado, Illinois, California, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Nevada, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
The full letter can be accessed here.
The letter follows another recent exhortation from Congressman Steve Cohen to DEA’s Anne Milgram, urging her department to follow through on the HHS’s recommendation and stating it was “critical” the agency get moving.