Democrats urge Biden administration to deschedule marijuana

Senate Democrats are putting new pressure on the Biden administration to ease federal restrictions on marijuana in a new letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration on Tuesday as it considers rescheduling cannabis after it was federally classified more than five decades ago.

The Department of Health and Human Services formally recommended in August that the DEA move the drug from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act, or CSA, prompting a monthslong review, which continues.

The letter, from 12 senators led by Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and John Fetterman, D-Pa., and signed by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., goes further.

“The case for removing marijuana from Schedule I is overwhelming. The DEA should do so by removing cannabis from the CSA altogether, rather than simply placing it in a lower schedule,” the senators wrote in the letter, first obtained by NBC News.

Rescheduling the drug or removing it entirely would have significant implications for the marijuana industry and for cannabis users, some of whom consume it for medical purposes.

Since 1971, cannabis has been under Schedule I, the highest classification of the CSA, along with drugs like heroin and LSD, which the government formally considers to have high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use.

Even so, 40 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized some form of cannabis, for either recreational or medical use, leaving consumers and business owners to operate in a patchwork of changing laws across the country.