Fetterman, Warren lead Democrats in urging DEA to ‘swiftly’ take marijuana off Schedule I

April 25, 2024

A coalition of Democrats called on the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to quickly remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), signaling impatience over the agency’s ongoing review of cannabis’s designation.

The lawmakers were led by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and John Fetterman (Pa.) and Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Earl Blumenauer (Oreg.) in a letter addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram.

“We are now nearing eight months since the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended rescheduling marijuana to Schedule III — and 18 months since President Biden directed HHS and the Department of Justice (DOJ) to begin the process of reviewing marijuana’s scheduling. It is time for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to act,” they said.

The DEA is currently conducting a review of marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I substance, the category designated for drugs with no accepted medical use and a high risk of abuse. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last year recommended that it be rescheduled to Schedule III. In their letter, Democrats reitated their call for marijuana to be descheduled entirely.

“While we understand that the DEA may be navigating internal disagreement on this matter, it is critical that the agency swiftly correct marijuana’s misguided placement in Schedule I,” they wrote. “We trust that the DEA is working as quickly as possible toward a decision on how marijuana is scheduled, as Vice President Kamala Harris recently reassured stakeholders.”

“We are also hopeful that the DEA will not make the unprecedented choice to disagree with HHS’s medical finding that a drug does not belong in Schedule I,” they added.

Lawmakers who signed the letter include Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.), Ron Wyden (Oreg.), Alex Padilla (Calif.), Peter Welch (Vt.), Jeff Merkley (Oreg.), John Hickenlooper (Colo.), Cory Booker (N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

House Democrats who added their names to the letter include Robert Garcia (Calif.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.), Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), Dina Titus (Nev.), Val Hoyle (Oreg.), Becca Balint (Vt.), Jim McGovern (Mass.) and Katie Porter (Calif.).

The DEA and the attorney general’s office did not immediately respond when reached for comment.