Congress Calls on President Obama to Use His Authority to Reclassify Marijuana

Congress Calls on President Obama to Use His Authority to Reclassify Marijuana

Letter signed by eighteen federal legislators says marijuana's current status "makes no sense"

WASHINGTON, DC — Eighteen Members of Congress joined together today in calling on President Obama to use his authority to reclassify marijuana from its current position as a dangerous drug, alongside heroin and LSD, with no medical value.

letter sent by federal legislators today says that marijuana’s current status “makes no sense,” and requests that President Obama “instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way.” The Congressional letter comes just days after Obama told The New Yorker magazine that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol.

Although marijuana was sold as an over-the-counter medicine until the 1930s, produced by the likes of pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 classified marijuana as a Schedule I substance. Ignoring White House-appointed commissions, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) judges, and reports, all calling for marijuana’s reclassification, the federal government has refused to recognize the medical science and popular will in order to maintain marijuana’s current status.

“Classifying marijuana as Schedule I at the federal level perpetuates an unjust and irrational system,” read the Congressional letter. “Schedule I recognizes no medical use, disregarding both medical evidence and the laws of nearly half of the states that have legalized medical marijuana.” In a separate statement, the letter’s lead author Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said that reclassifying marijuana “is a step the administration can take to start to rationalize federal marijuana policy to bring it in line with the advances that are happening in the states.”

In addition to Representative Blumenauer, the Congressional letter sent to President Obama today was co-signed by Representatives Steve Cohen (D-TN), Sam Farr (D-CA), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Mike Honda (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), James McGovern (D-MA), James Moran (D-VA), Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Jared Polis (D-CO), Mike Quigley (D-IL), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Eric Swalwell (D-CA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

The CSA gives authority for rescheduling controlled substances to Congress, but it also grants executive branch authority to the U.S. Attorney General and the DEA. “President Obama just told the nation during his State of the Union address that because Congress has been unable to act, he would take executive action where he could on behalf of helping the American people,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country’s largest medical marijuana advocacy group. “The president has the authority to reclassify marijuana and could exercise that authority at any time.”

Last year, a legal battle to reclassify marijuana at the federal level ended in the D.C. Circuit. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) had filed a petition in 2002 to reclassify marijuana for medical use, which the DEA denied in July 2011. However, the governors of Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington filed their own joint petition that year to reclassify marijuana for medical use. Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper filed a separate but similar petition, which he was mandated to do according to his state’s medical marijuana law. Both of these petitions are currently pending before the DEA, and the Obama Administration could approve them at any time.

  • John B. Lurvey

    Please list the Senators involved so that they will not be re-elected. Thousands of new jobs will be created by this new industry and anyone standing in the way should simply be rolled over, especially politicians that are abusing their authority.

    • Chas Holman

      Let’s just put it this way.. NOT A SINGLE ‘states rights loving’ *cough*, fiscal conservative (we spend tens of billions a year at JUST the Federal level) GOP or Tea Party signed it..

      They ‘pretend’ to have some libertarian streak, but when the raids happen the Tea Party squeals ‘Thank God for the Feds. One would think the ‘fiscally conservative’ ‘states rights’ *cough* GOTea crowd would WANT to stop spending 60 BILLION a year (at just the Federal level) and would WANT to support the States where the people have demanded and voted for a more ‘rational’ approach. But no, they rub their hands together full well knowing not a SINGLE chance of such ‘support of states and patients rights’ would EVER come from the GOTea posers who have NO interest in states rights unless it lines their personal pockets. . GOP Senator Jeff Essman made a BUNDLE renting out to medical grass growers, the SECOND this came to the public attention, he along with Tea Party darling James Knox forced a complete REPEAL of the most popular vote in Montana state history. Cheap right wing posers in expensive suits who want you to tell they are ‘part of your team’ but ONLY care about their own political interests and playing others for fools at the ballot box.

      • Anthony

        Dana Rohrabacher is a Republican.

        • Chas Holman

          I stand corrected.. there is one after all.. thanks~!

          • Cannabis News Pro

            There always have been Republicans on board. These lame anti-conservative arguments are ignorant in Cannabis talk. I can name just as many Democrats that are corrupt and will never be for legalization as well. Stop spreading the madness.

          • wowFAD

            There are 232 Republicans in the House of Representatives. I’ve been told over and over that Republicans aren’t closed-minded, that Republicans support reforming our cannabis laws, etc etc etc — so where are their signatures? Only *ONE* out of 232 signed the letter. And I understand why — Republicans typically have constituencies dominated by zealous social conservatives, so they’d risk losing their seats by supporting the evil “hippie weed.”

            Republicans can’t have it both ways — the right cannot keep insisting that “many” Republicans support cannabis law reform when they won’t lift a finger (or a pen) to show it. Only one R signed this letter. The vast majority of states that have decriminalized and/or legalized for medical or recreational use are blue states. The last three Republican presidential nominees voiced nothing but opposition to medical cannabis. Democrats sponsor state-level cannabis reform bills all the time that go unnoticed, but the moment a Republican sponsors one, it makes national headlines. So you see, it’s not a lame argument, it’s an accurate (and frustrating) observation.

            19 times out of 20, when a politician voices support for cannabis reform, that politician is a Democrat, which is a problem. Cannabis reform, at its core, is an issue of privacy, personal liberty, wasteful government spending, and states’ rights — those are ideals Republicans constantly brag are THEIR ideals, but they are incredibly selective about applying them, and cannabis rarely makes the cut. Republicans often say the government shouldn’t get between patients and doctors, and yet that’s precisely what every Republican who doesn’t support medical cannabis is doing — tacitly supporting criminal penalties that interfere with patients and the treatment their doctors recommend. It’s wildly hypocritical, but that’s how it is.

          • wowFAD

            Voting down the comment doesn’t make it untrue. In fact, voting it down means you didn’t like it — but you couldn’t find anything inaccurate about it, either.

          • Mike

            The elites that run both major parties are doing everything they can to resist the Marijuana Majority. While many, many more individual Democrats have stood up to do the right thing regarding cannabis, there is no doubt that individual Republicans seem to be reluctant to take any risks here.

            That said, this is a reminder to everyone that, while the polls are trending decidedly in our favor, it’s voting that counts. And it takes raising the legalization issue to candidates, even putting them on the spot if need be, in order to make sure they are accountable. Polls don’t change laws, votes do. We need pro-legalization candidates and we need to call out candidates who oppose us. Don’t count on either party doing the right thing or even the thing that overwhelming majorities of Americans support.

            In the end, I think an issue like this is worth voting for a candidate of the opposite party if they’re on the right side of this issue and the folks you normally vote with aren’t stepping up to the plate. It’s a matter of personal freedom. Politicos can talk all they want, but what counts is what they hold in store for you personally. And there’s nothing more personal than the state seeking to imprison you.

      • Jeff Zahnow

        I live in Montana and what Essmann and the rest did was tragic… this should be a lesson to you all what the vote and the voice of the people mean to the political powers that rule you all.

    • Anthony

      They are listed in the article already.

    • Michael Belt

      Why do you want them to NOT be re-elected, if they’re doing something you agree with?

      • Mayor_of_Debonair

        John B. Lurvey must be high lol. The Senators want the Pres to do this to make it available to us. Michael Belt I was thinking the same thing about him lol.

      • marilyn

        The prescriptions everyone takes will kill them!! R u people stupid? Wake up!!

    • dre

      You clearly don’t understand what is happening. The ‘Senators involved’ are pro-marijuana you goof.

    • Guest

      Read the article, idiot. They are listed. And they should be reelected for being forward thinking.

    • King Of Bob

      What are you talking about?

  • robby gaudet

    It Failed Last Year in DC but DC now Has Medical Marijuana for Dying & Suffering Patients!This Should be A National Issue Not Just State by State!

  • Best Make Money Online

    Well how do you like that, the Prez is aware that marijuana is “less dangerous than alcohol”.
    Now to move further forward to “actually has health benefits” and therefore reclassification.
    But those profiting from it being illegal would never allow it to become legal, and he works for them.

    • King Of Bob

      Your paranoia is showing.

  • IJR

    Marijuana is schedule one. The feds consider marijuana more dangerous than cocaine and meth.

    The feds say marijuana has no medical uses.
    The feds have patents on some medical uses of marijuana.

    Can anyone give me any reason to trust my government at all?

    • defmbqwerty

      No, and you shouldn’t in its current state.

  • diria

    Helps for those tht r true

  • John Howell

    Please Accomplish your own Due Diligence … “TRTC”

  • Stephen Stillwell

    Thanks for the article, and your service.

    There is no excuse for any Texas democratic representative to not sign this, since it is in the state party platform. That means you, Al Green.

  • bigmama1744
  • Cam

    LSD also needs to be removed from Schedule I. It has tremendous medical value, as do MDMA, psilocybin, ibogaine, etc. (all of which are currently misclassified as Schedule I)

  • maddog19722011

    Marijuana has come full circle. If this country has alcohol and tobacco on shelves, which are FAR more dangerous, it IS time to legalize and let the people choose whether or not to use it. Just like alcohol n tobacco. Those who stand in the way will never get re elected. Those who favor the legalization are going to have long and prosperous careers. Country is zillions in debt and if all 50 states legalize, the national debt will be cut in half within 3-5 years. Do your job Obama and do whats right. You will create millions of jobs instead of turning down their unemployment as most of the jobs in America have been “shipped overseas”. The land of the free,….huh ??? Freedom to choose what you want to do, huh ?
    Just legalize it

  • Jim

    This could actually save America’s view of Obama

    • Mike

      It’s all about leadership at this point. President’s rarely take a tough stand against the bureaucracy around them. In this case, it sure helps that doing so will be both popular and fundamentally the right thing to do.

      Failing to do anything of substance — and what Obama has done so far on cannabis barely exceeds that standard — will only perpetuate injustice. I voted to the left of him, still have been sorely disappointed in many ways by his performance, but I can’t imagine he’d simply make a little noise on this and expect others to finish the job down the road. He knows the way things work in this country it could be decades before we get another chance to correct this historic abomination that prohibition is — even with solid political majorities in support.

      Decrim or medical option only simply don’t meet that standard.

      Like I said, I’ve been disappointed before, so acknowledge that could still happen. Regardless of that, this paradox where we can’t be sure the president will take a step that is both scientifically sound and widely popular simply points out how important it is to continue pushing at the state level at every opportunity. Soon enough we won’t have to depend on any one politician. In fact, our activism could reshape a thoroughly corrupt political system, which is something else to consider from a government whose institutions are fundamentally perceived as faithless by the vast majority of Americans. It might just be smart to make marijuana legal, before it leads to more serious challenges to the powers that be.

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  • Al

    Our government is so deep into the pockets of their special interests they can’t agree on anything. The fact that marijuana is schedule one is a perfect example of how inept and useless our government is on this subject. Police departments will do everything they can to keep it in this class, it’s what allows them to act in a paramilitary manor and take everything you own, let’s them buy helicopters and treat citizens as if they were terrorists in another country. This war on drugs (marijuana) is one of the biggest charades in the history of the US. It is an addiction to funding by police departments.