July 11, 2022
On July 6th, six U.S. Senators issued a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Xavier Becerra, urging them to remove cannabis' classification as a Schedule I drug.
As defined by the United States Drug Enforcement Agency, "Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote."
The letter urging the de-scheduling of cannabis not only emphasizes the authority that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and HHS have to reschedule drugs, but also comments on its medical benefits. As stated in the letter, "Moreover, it is obvious that cannabis has widely accepted medical benefits, affirmed by medical and scientific communities both here and across the globe. The American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, and New England Journal of Medicine have all supported legalizing cannabis for medicinal use. The World Health Organization has also recommended reclassifying cannabis from its most restrictive classification under international drug treaties. Medical cannabis helps millions across the country deal with chronic pain, seizure disorders, cancer, multiple sclerosis and a variety of other ailments. The therapeutic properties of cannabis caused by the effects of both the tetrahydrocannabinol-alpha (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) components make it an excellent alternative to highly addictive opiates for pain relief. In line with the clear medical benefits of cannabis, 37 states, three territories, and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes." While many states have moved to legalize marijuana in both medical and recreational forms, cannabis remains federally illegal and classified as having "no currently accepted medical use."
The six Senators that signed onto the letter are Senators Booker (D-NJ), Warren (D-MA), Markey (D-MA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Wyden (D-OR), and Sanders (I-VT).
A Gallup poll found that marijuana legalization is popular among a record-high 68% of Americans. The Senators highlighted public sentiment on the issue, as well as President Biden's campaign promises. "There is widespread public support for cannabis legalization, with around two- thirds of the public supporting the legalization of cannabis . . . In communities where cannabis has been legalized, there have been widespread economic, racial-justice, public safety, and health benefits," they wrote. "During the presidential campaign, President Biden committed to decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions, and he also acknowledged the importance of removing cannabis from its current classification under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA) as a Schedule I substance."