June 23, 2016

Senators Request Update on Federal Marijuana Rescheduling Decision as Deadline Nears

Text of the letter available here

Washington, DC - United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) today sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requesting an update on the agencies' decision about whether to adjust marijuana's classification as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). The DEA previously indicated that a new scheduling determination would occur in the "first half of 2016."

Marijuana's Schedule I classification is one of several federal barriers to research on the potential health benefits of medical marijuana. Given that 25 states and the District of Columbia now have passed medical marijuana laws, and an additional 16 states allow the medicinal use of the marijuana derivative cannabidiol (CBD), this group of senators previously urged the DEA, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) to take steps reduce federal barriers to research on the drug.

The senators wrote, "The dissonance between these state laws and the drug's federal Schedule I status have wide-ranging implications for legitimate marijuana businesses including access to banking services, the ability to deduct business expenses from taxes, and access for veterans. The conflict between state laws for medical marijuana use and its CSA classification also has significant consequences for preclinical, clinical, and epidemiologic research."

"We are concerned that ‘the first half of 2016' is coming to a close and no rescheduling announcement has been made," they wrote. "We continue to believe that the rescheduling of marijuana and the resolution of other regulatory barriers to research is a time-sensitive matter that requires immediate action."

Read a PDF copy of the senators' letter here.