A dozen senators led by Elizabeth Warren and John Fetterman are urging the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to fully deschedule rather than down-schedule marijuana.
US President Joe Biden initiated a review into how marijuana is scheduled under federal law in October 2022, with the resulting recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) of rescheduling marijuana from the CSA Schedule I – reserved for the most dangerous drugs – to Schedule III. While the Department of Justice (DOJ), via the DEA, has final say on drug scheduling decision – but it’s been pointed out the DEA has never kept a drug in Schedule I after a HHS recommendation to remove it.
In an 11-page letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram this week, the senators called for the DEA to go further and deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
“While rescheduling to Schedule III would mark a significant step forward, it would not resolve the worst harms of the current system,” states the letter, which has been published by NBC. “Marijuana’s placement in the CSA has had a devastating impact on our communities and is increasingly out of step with state law and public opinion.”
The signatories believe marijuana can still be subject to public health regulations once descheduled, with the regulation of alcohol and tobacco providing a guide and the federal government an opportunity to “shape the new cannabis industry from the ground up” – but without the “corporate capture” that has influenced alcohol and tobacco regulations.
“The Biden Administration has a window of opportunity to deschedule marijuana that has not existed in decades and should reach the right conclusion — consistent with the clear scientific and public health rationale for removing marijuana from Schedule I, and with the imperative to relieve the burden of current federal marijuana policy on ordinary people and small businesses.”
The Warren et. al. letter also asks the DEA a number of questions regarding the status of its deliberations, including the DEA’s timeline for removing marijuana from Schedule I and how (if at all) would the criminal enforcement of marijuana by the DEA change if it were moved to another CSA schedule.
The senators’ letter follows another from NY lawmakers and others to the DEA in the last week calling for complete descheduling.