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Lawmakers Urge DEA To Act ‘Promptly’ In Rescheduling Marijuana

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Drug Enforcement Administration is being urged to act “promptly” in re-classifying marijuana under federal law, according to a HuffPost report.

A group of 21 Democratic lawmakers made that request recently in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.

In 2022, President Joe Biden launched an initiative by his administration to review how marijuana is classified under federal law.  As part of that effort, the Department of Health and Human Services has asked that marijuana be classified as a Schedule III substance under the Controlled Substance Act rather than its current Schedule 1 classification, which is used for the most dangerous controlled substances, including heroin.

In their letter, the lawmakers said it is time for the DEA to take action on this matter.

“Though marijuana is widely used and … associated with fewer adverse outcomes than alcohol, it remains in the most restrictive schedule,” the lawmakers wrote. “This placement produces a cascade of severe penalties for marijuana users and businesses, including for criminal records, immigration statuses, employment, taxation, health care, public housing, social services, and more.”

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John Fetterman (D-Pa.), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) led the group that sent the letter to the DEA.

The DEA confirmed in January that it is conducting its review, but there is no timetable for a decision.

Last August, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services formally recommended that marijuana be classified as Schedule III.

In January, an FDA scientific panel emphasized that marijuana has a lower potential for abuse than the other Schedule 1 drugs and a risk of low or moderate physical dependence in people who abuse it.

Among the drugs currently labeled as Schedule III are ketamine, anabolic steroids, testosterone and Tylenol with codeine.

The administration’s previous efforts to ease marijuana punishments have included pardoning all prior federal offenses for simple marijuana possession, with the president encouraging governors to do the same for similar offenses in their states.

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