Congress to Call on President to Reconsider Marijuana’s “Schedule I” Classification

Congress to Call on President to Reconsider Marijuana’s “Schedule I” Classification

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D – Oregon) is gathering signatures from congressional colleagues on a letter he will deliver to President Obama asking him to reconsider the classification of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug.

“It’s time for Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II,” says Congressman Blumenauer.  “Current classification doesn’t recognize the medicinal value of marijuana and doesn’t allow marijuana businesses operating legally under state law to take normal tax deductions, which can be crippling. The current system wastes resources and destroys lives, in turn damaging families and communities. Taking action on this issue is long overdue.”

This classification forces the federal government to treat marijuana as a dangerous drug with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” despite the myriad established medical uses and the overwhelming evidence showing that marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol. By comparison, cocaine and methamphetamine are listed as Schedule II drugs. A copy of the letter is below.

Following an interview published on January 19 in The New Yorker in which President Obama said that marijuana was less harmful to the consumer than alcohol, the Marijuana Policy Project began promoting a petition asking Obama to remove marijuana from the schedule of drugs defined in the Controlled Substances Act. The petition currently has more than 36,000 signatures and can be seen here.

“The president is correct. By any objective measure, marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to both the consumer and society. He has said time and time again that in his administration drug policy would be based on science, not politics, but actions speak louder than words. The president should act to ensure our laws reflect the scientific fact that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol,” says Dan Riffle, Director of Federal Policies for the Washington, DC based Marijuana Policy Project.

“Prestigious medical and scientific organizations like the American Medical Association and the Institute of Medicine have called on the federal government to reexamine marijuana’s “Schedule I” classification, and it’s past time this administration act on those demands. The notion that marijuana holds “no currently accepted medical use” is contrary to numerous medical studies and the laws of nearly half the states which recognize marijuana’s medical value,” Riffle added.

Congressman Blumenauer’s letter is printed below: 

Dear Mr. President,

We were encouraged by your recent comments in your interview with David Remnick in the January 27, 2014 issue of The New Yorker about the shifting public opinion on the legalization of marijuana. We request that you take action to help alleviate the harms to society caused by the federal Schedule I classification of marijuana.

Lives and resources are wasted on enforcing harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws. Nearly two-thirds of a million people every year are arrested for marijuana possession. We spend billions every year enforcing marijuana laws, which disproportionately impact minorities. According to the ACLU, black Americans are nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite comparable marijuana usage rates.

You said that you don’t believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol, a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” This is true. Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification, along with heroin and LSD. This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs. This makes no sense.

Classifying marijuana as Schedule I at the federal level perpetuates an unjust and irrational system. Schedule I recognizes no medical use, disregarding both medical evidence and the laws of nearly half of the states that have legalized medical marijuana. A Schedule I or II classification also means that marijuana businesses in states where adult or medical use are legal cannot deduct business expenses from their taxes or take tax credits due to Section 280E of the federal tax code.

We request that you instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II. Furthermore, one would hope that that your administration officials publicly reflect your views on this matter. Statements such as the one from DEA chief of operations James L. Capra that the legalization of marijuana at the state level is “reckless and irresponsible” serve no purpose other than to inflame passions and misinform the public.

Thank you for your continued thoughtfulness about this important issue. We believe the current system wastes resources and destroys lives, in turn damaging families and communities. Taking action on this issue is long overdue.


  • David Matson

    So exciting that we finally have a real chance to fix this, once and for all.

    The fact that medical marijuana is illegal under federal law has always been one of the main objections and fears about states adopting it.

    With that objection gone, both medical marijuana and legal weed for all should accelerate and expand across the country.

  • Mike

    It’s good that everyone is getting to the point where it’s agreed the only reason marijuana is illegal is because the “the law says so.” Pure and simple, short and sweet, it’s an entirely arbitrary situation that has no other justification in law, in medicine, or in fact.

    Laws like that are simply stupid, venal, and call into question the viability of government as institution designed to treat people fairly and honestly.

    Then there’s the stark reality you can’t really hide from people. If marijuana somehow is inexplicably justified in being listed as Schedule One, then why the heck isn’t alcohol listed as Schedule Zero?

  • Justin Hephner

    i have said for the past 5 years that 2014 would be the year of the greenleaf!! The public discovery of the governments lies about cannabis and its efficacy as a medication and anticarcinogen was the tipping point. Thank goodness the war is almost over and common sense and science have prevailed over false propaganda.

    • Jose

      Every year is the year and then another red flag disaster diverts attention away.

      • Justin Hephner

        thats a very pessimistic view, and not in line with historical reality. The last 15 years have seen sweeping changes in both public opinion and state laws. It is coming, it may NOT be this year, but rescheduling of cannabis will certainly happen before the next presidential elections. I personally think it will happen before the end of this year, possibly before summers end. I have been in this fight since the mid 80s , and I have seen HUGE changes in perception and knowledge

        • Jose

          All that progress can go down the drain so fast it would make your head spin. Did you know a lawyer that helps a state-legal marijuana business in Colorado can have their law license revoked and face racketeering charges? Banks still will not do business under money laundering laws and we are one terror incident, staged or otherwise, away from outright martial law. Did you also know that we are currently in a state of emergency that is renewed every year (last September was the last) where there is suspension of the Bill of Rights?
          I have 40+ years of history to be pessimistic.

          • Justin Hephner

            Obama just released the banks from culpability two weeks ago, freeing them to do cannabis buisness.this progress has demonstrated a quantum shift in thinking on cannabis, we will not lose this momentum, more and more states are on board. the cannabis war is over, just picking off stragglers now.

          • Jose

            And the banks laughed at Obama because he does not have the authority to issue such a release.

  • Dusty Relic

    This is a good start but I would rather read about how there is a long list of congressional signatures on this letter!

  • puff n tuff

    ill puff to that!

  • Goo Ber


  • Jose

    The government is killing children by sending a signal that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin. When children discover that the government lied to them about marijuana, they assume that the government also lied to them about heroin.

    • Aaron Mcnees

      this is what happened to millions after being lied to about weed and lsd in their teens, thought the gov was just lying again when crack came out. boy oh boy, talk about a recipe for wackiness!

  • relaxedhuman

    Obama points to Congress on rescheduling and Congressman Blumenauer points to the executive branch. Holder could probably reschedule it, but nobody wants to do anything without air cover – I suspect that marijuana is one of those issues that drive voters to the polls (like raising the minimum wage) so politicians will want to defer until 2014 or 2016 elections to hopefully ride the coattails of the marijuana issue to elect progressive or democratic candidates.

    Let’s face it, if marijuana legalization was put to a vote of the people, it would be done. It’s been done by initiative in Washington. We need direct political action to get this substance off (or at least moved to Schedule 4) of the DEA’s schedule of drugs.

    Who can make this happen? What pressures do we need to bring to bear?

  • Kevin

    only problem with this is the Head Bureaucrats at the DEA are going to fight this tooth and nail most of the money allocated to them is for raids in N.Cali and Kentucky. Most of the REAL dangerous drugs besides Meth aren’t homemade or homegrown and fall under US customs and Border Patrol jurisdiction, they could careless about the TRUTH about Marijuana for them it’s all about job security and Sadly they probably have alot of friends in congress to lead their fight this could be a long hard battle.