December 22, 2022

Warren, Blumenauer, Lawmakers Urge Biden to Deschedule Marijuana

Text of Letter (pdf) 

Washington, D.C. — Today, United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Congressman Blumenauer (D-Ore.), led a bipartisan and bicameral group of lawmakers in a letter urging the Biden-Harris Administration to deschedule marijuana. The letter comes after President Biden directed the Departments of Health and Human Services and Justice to begin a formal review of the scheduling of marijuana. 

“To date, 37 states have enacted medical marijuana programs, including 21 states that have also decriminalized adult use of marijuana. Many of these reforms have been adopted through ballot measures and center public health and safety, prevent the distribution of marijuana to minors, invest in communities most harmed by prohibition, and hold cannabis businesses to the highest standards,” the lawmakers wrote.

“We cannot negate the need for legislative action and federal guidance on many of these components, but all branches of the federal government must recognize the need for the descheduling of marijuana and in a manner that protects the will of each state and the markets and regulations that are within their authority to establish…Marijuana does not belong in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a classification intended for exceptionally dangerous substances with high potential for abuse and no medical use. The decision to schedule marijuana was rooted in stigma rather than an evidence-based process, and it is time to fully remedy this wrong,” the lawmakers continued. “Marijuana’s continued inappropriate scheduling is both arcane and out-of-touch with the will of the American people. We look forward to your Administration working transparently and proactively with Congress to enact this crucial step.”

 Senator Warren has long fought to reform cannabis policy and provide justice to individuals currently and formerly incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses:

  • In July 2022, Senators Warren and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) led Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to send a letter to President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, following up on previous requests that the administration use its authority to deschedule cannabis and pardon non-violent cannabis-related offenders.
  • In November 2021, Senators Warren, Markey, and Merkley sent a letter to President Biden urging him to use his authority to pardon all individuals convicted of federal non-violent cannabis offenses
  • In October 2021, Senators Warren and Booker urged Attorney General Merrick Garland to decriminalize cannabis by removing the drug from the Federal controlled substances list
  • In March 2021, Senators Warren, Merkley, and Daines cosponsored the bipartisan Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act to ensure that legal cannabis businesses have access to critical banking services.
  • During each of the last two congresses, Senator Warren and former Senator Cory Gardner introduced bipartisan legislation that would remove participation in the state-legal cannabis industry from the list of activities that automatically bar naturalization.