Two U.S. senators urge Justice Department to deschedule cannabis

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Democratic senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren are joining forces in the hopes of encouraging U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland to harness his power and deschedule cannabis.

With his authority, AG Garland has the potential to influence the Department of Justice (DOJ) to eliminate cannabis from the federal controlled substances list.

“Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), the Attorney General can remove a substance from the CSA’s list, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services,” reads an excerpt from a letter sent to Garland by the pro-cannabis duo. 

“While Congress works to pass comprehensive cannabis reform, you can act now to decriminalize cannabis,” continues Booker’s and Warren’s argument.

The senators attest that cannabis descheduling would pave the way for states to enact legalization with ease. A recent Pew Research poll discovered that 60 percent of surveyed adults believe that cannabis should be legal for both medical and recreational use. 

Letter highlights expansion of cannabis legalization in the U.S.

Booker and Warren are urging AG Garland to help amend federal cannabis laws on the basis that state cannabis regulation would improve efforts “to remedy the harm caused by decades of racial disparities in enforcement of cannabis laws, and facilitate valuable medical research.”

Currently, cannabis is scheduled in the same category as many addictive and dangerous substances, including ecstacy and heroin. 

Nonetheless, 36 U.S. states, four territories and the District of Columbia have already legalized the green plant for medicinal purposes. The letter also draws attention to the fact that recreational cannabis has been legalized in 18 states, two territories and the District of Columbia.

President Joe Biden vowed to decriminalize cannabis during the campaign trial

“It is far past time to decriminalize the use of cannabis in the United States,” wrote Booker and Warren, both of whom feel slightly frustrated about President Joe Biden’s idle promise to prioritize cannabis reform this year. 

During his campaign trail, the president vowed to automatically expunge all former cannabis convictions if cannabis use is decriminalized something that Booker and Warren have not forgotten about.

Their letter claims that cannabis decriminalization would signify “a critical first step in addressing the racial inequities in cannabis law enforcement.” They believe it is a critical step for those “seeking cannabis as a medical treatment option.”

Booker and Warren highlighted the fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has authorized the use of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) synthetics for patients who’ve been diagnosed with AIDS, in addition to those receiving chemotherapy treatment for cancer. 

Furthermore, the politicians noted that the FDA has approved CBD medications for pediatric patients who suffer from epilepsy.

“Your office formally descheduled the latter pharmaceutical [and the existing Schedule 1 status for cannabis] is a significant barrier to further medical research because researchers are severely limited in their ability to access the substance,” they added.

In spite of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration‘s (DEA) declaring in May that it will push forward with an attempt to broaden research-focused cannabis access, such efforts have not yet been made. 

Nonetheless, this has not disheartened the duo; as the next part of their letter to AG Garland clarifies.

“But the United Nations voted last December to reduce restrictions on cannabis under the treaty, and some signatories of the treaty, such as Canada and Uruguay, have legalized cannabis completely,” the letter adds.

Although Booker and Warren requested that Garland respond before October 21, no update has been released just yet.