WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper, Elizabeth Warren, John Fetterman, and nine other senators sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Anne Milgram, urging them to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The senators called for a complete descheduling of marijuana – consistent with state law, public sentiment – and the need to eliminate criminal and civil penalties for marijuana use, following the August 2023 Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recommendation that marijuana be rescheduled from Schedule I to Schedule III.
“(R)escheduling to Schedule III would mark a significant step forward, (but) it would not resolve the worst harms of the current system… the DEA should deschedule marijuana altogether,” wrote the senators. “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.”
“Once descheduled, marijuana can still be subject to public health regulations, drawing from lessons learned through the regulation of alcohol and tobacco,” continued the senators.
The 2023 HHS recommendation to move marijuana to a less restrictive DEA schedule followed an October 2022 directive from President Biden requiring HHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to review the current scheduling of the drug. Prior to this review, the last review of marijuana scheduling occurred in 2016, when HHS ultimately recommended keeping marijuana under Schedule I. HHS has since identified credible scientific support for marijuana’s medical uses and has reversed its position. The medical science, as well as developments in state law and international law, support removing marijuana from Schedule I.
The senators have requested that the DEA and DOJ provide more information on steps taken to act on HHS’s rescheduling recommendation no later than February 12, 2024.
Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker, Jeff Merkley, Bernie Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand, Ron Wyden, Peter Welch, Chris Van Hollen, and Alex Padilla also signed the letter.
Full text of the letter available HERE.