April 25, 2024

Lee, Warren, Fetterman, Schumer, Blumenauer, 16 Lawmakers to DEA: Move Swiftly to Reschedule Marijuana

Washington, D.C. – Congressional Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and John Fetterman (D-Pa.) led 17 lawmakers in a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Anne Milgram, expressing their growing frustration that the DEA has not acted to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act. They are asking the DEA to swiftly take action and begin to remedy the harms of marijuana’s scheduling by removing marijuana from the agency’s Schedule I list of controlled substances. 

The letter was also signed by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Representatives Dina Titus (D-Nev.), Becca Balint (D-Vt.), Robert Garcia (D-Calif.), Val Hoyle (D-Ore.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Katie Porter (D-Calif.), and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.).

“We are now nearing eight months since the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III — and 18 months since President Biden directed HHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to begin the process of reviewing marijuana’s scheduling. It is time for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to act,” wrote the lawmakers. 

According to HHS, though marijuana use is associated with fewer adverse outcomes than alcohol, it remains in the most restrictive schedule of the CSA, creating severe penalties for marijuana users and businesses, including for criminal records, immigration statuses, employment, taxation, health care, public housing, social services, and more. In October 2023, Cannabis Caucus Co-Chairs Lee, Blumenauer, Joyce, and Mast led a letter urging the DEA to remove marijuana from Schedule I, but have not received a response.

“On August 29, 2023, HHS recommended that the DEA move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. The DEA has said that it is now conducting ‘an administrative review of the scheduling of marijuana,’ a process that entails considering HHS’s recommendation. Although some at the DEA have indicated that the agency’s review of an HHS scheduling recommendation often takes up to six months, almost eight months have now passed since the DEA received HHS’s recommendation… The longer marijuana remains scheduled in the CSA, the longer our communities face senselessly severe penalties and the longer the marijuana laws of the majority of U.S. states remain in conflict with federal law. Right now, the Administration has the opportunity to resolve more than 50 years of failed, racially discriminatory marijuana policy,” continued the lawmakers.

Given these concerns, the lawmakers are calling on the DEA to deliver on the Biden administration’s commitment to remedy the harms of marijuana’s scheduling, and act swiftly to remove marijuana from Schedule I. 

Text of Letter (PDF)