Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser today led a group of 12 state attorneys general on a letter encouraging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to reschedule cannabis to Schedule III under the federal Controlled Substances Act in the interest of public health and safety.
In the letter to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, the coalition of attorneys general explain that rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III will “allow the state-regulated cannabis industry to continue to set the standard for legal products and work to eliminate the illicit market and unregulated intoxicating hemp products.”
The letter comes just days after the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) sent a letter to congressional lawmakers informing them that their review of marijuana as a schedule I drug is currently underway, while noting that the agency has “the final authority” when it comes to any rescheduling effort.
According to a press release from AG Weiser’s office, “Rescheduling will also increase the ability to research cannabis to determine the physical and mental impacts of cannabis use, particularly among youth, and will allow legitimate cannabis businesses to take ordinary tax deductions to expand their investments and focus on public health and safety in collaboration with law enforcements efforts.”
The letter states that “A state-regulated cannabis industry better protects consumers than the illicit marijuana market or the unregulated intoxicating hemp-derived marketplace. It is critical to acknowledge that use of cannabis, especially among youth, still incurs health and safety risks. Our regulatory regimes have sought to balance the mandate to create as safe a framework as possible with the reality of these risks. Juxtaposed against the dangers of the illicit market and unregulated hemp-derived cannabinoids, moreover, we believe that there is a public health and safety mandate to protect the state-regulated industry by rescheduling cannabis to schedule III.”
In August the Department sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) officially requesting marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act, effectively legalizing it for prescription use across the United States. The letter came in response to a request by President Biden last year for the government to research and consider rescheduling marijuana.
The regulated cannabis marketplace currently brings billions of dollars of revenue into state and federal governments, with predictions that by 2027, retail cannabis sales will exceed $53 billion nationally. According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the cannabis industry in Colorado has generated more than $15 billion in sales since regulated recreational sales began in 2014. The state has collected more than $2.6 billion in marijuana taxes over the same period.
Joining Weiser on the letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Rhode Island.
Last month the United States Health and Human Services Department released an over 250 page document explaining their rationale for wanting the DEA to reschedule marijuana.
Also in December, a coalition representing thousands of military veterans sent a letter to President Biden asking that his administration reschedule marijuana in a “timely” manner.
In September congressional researchers released a report stating that the DEA is “likely” to reschedule marijuana, with many believing it will be done prior to the 2024 presidential election.