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. 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 Change.org 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: https://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-if-marijuana-is-safer-than-alcohol-remove-it-from-the-dea-s-schedule-of-drugs
Statement from MPP Director of Federal Policies Dan Riffle:
“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.
“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.”
Statement from Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR):
“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. 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.”
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The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States of America
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500
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.