Senator Warren on DEA
Senator Warren on DEA

Senator Warren Blasts the DEA over Marijuana Stance, Tells Them It's Not 1954 Anymore and Join the 21st Century

The DEA got called out for being stuck in 1954 as far as drug scheduling and cannabis goes!

Posted by:
HighChi on Tuesday Feb 13, 2024

liz warren to dea on cannabis

With marijuana activists and users in the United States anxiously awaiting the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) ruling on whether to reclassify cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule III banned substance, this year might go down as a historic one for the drug.


There is a strong expectation for a definitive decision in the wake of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposal to the DEA in December 2023. Although a Biden administration official has ruled out any immediate pronouncements for the next week, recent speculations indicate that the White House may make a statement addressing the ongoing study in the coming days.


While the wait continues, numerous advocates and lawmakers are arguing that merely shifting cannabis to a different category is insufficient, advocating instead for its complete de-scheduling. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is among those leaders, having recently discussed her position on The Late Show.


Spearheading the Effort to Deschedule Marijuana


After a segment about the economy and inflation, host Stephen Colbert changed course to talk about a letter that was initiated by Senators Warren and John Fetterman (D-PA), along with nine other Democrats, including Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.


While admitting that putting cannabis on Schedule III would be a "significant step forward," the letter urges the DEA and the Biden administration to deschedule marijuana in order to address the "most severe harms of the current system."


"In light of this, the DEA should completely remove marijuana from schedule. The placement of marijuana in the CSA has inflicted severe harm on our communities and is increasingly at odds with state laws and public opinion," the legislators emphasized in the letter dated January 30th.


"Last week, you, Senator Fetterman, Senator Schumer, and Senator Sanders sent a letter to the DEA requesting marijuana descheduling. How does that differ?" Colbert inquired. "Two-part question: How does that differ from legalization, and are you currently under the influence?"


After laughter from the audience, Warren explained that achieving cannabis legalization would require a "functional Congress," which, she remarked, is not the current reality. Descheduling, she argued, is an alternative that doesn't necessitate Congressional approval.


"At present, marijuana is classified by the DEA as a drug on par with heroin," Warren remarked. "This means not only is it illegal, but research on it is also prohibited. So, no — and what we're expressing in this letter is, 'Come on, DEA, catch up.' It's not 1954. More than half of all states have legalized marijuana."


While research on cannabis is feasible under its current scheduling, it has historically faced numerous hurdles that critics have long condemned as impediments to expanding cannabis-related studies.


Descheduling versus Rescheduling Cannabis


Descheduling cannabis would essentially strip it of its status as a controlled substance, eliminating criminal penalties and effectively legalizing it. Congress would still need to establish a regulatory framework, likely treating it akin to alcohol, with individual states having the freedom to enact their cannabis laws. Federal law and regulation could still have some influence.


On the other hand, rescheduling cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III would maintain its classification as a controlled substance, without federally legalizing it or granting states the authority to regulate their own markets. However, this move would remove barriers to research and permit state-licensed cannabis businesses to claim federal tax deductions, a privilege currently unavailable to them.


While rescheduling alone wouldn't bring about this shift, many are concerned that shifting cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III could pave the way for Big Pharma to dominate the market.


"The idea is to eliminate this conflict at the federal level, which is causing numerous issues – problems with banking and tax laws," Warren explained. "Instead of navigating this conflict, we simply deschedule cannabis. We need some regulations, of course. Let's treat it like alcohol, deschedule it, embrace the 21st century, and legalize marijuana. It shouldn't be so complicated."


Her statement was met with applause, followed by Colbert's playful remark, "I'd like to note that you didn't answer my second question." Warren shared a grin with the host as Colbert wrapped up the segment.


Advocates Rally for Comprehensive Cannabis Reform


A group of politicians and activists led by Senator Elizabeth Warren is advocating for a more all-encompassing approach to cannabis policy change as anticipation for the DEA's possible cannabis rescheduling grows. The main focus of this initiative is the need to completely deschedule cannabis instead of only changing its classification under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This endeavor is a reflection of lawmakers' increasing awareness of the need to solve the basic problems with the present cannabis legal structure.


The bipartisan group of senators, which includes Senators Bernie Sanders, Cory Booker, and Chuck Schumer, recently signed a letter led by Senators Warren and John Fetterman that emphasizes how urgent it is to review the legal status of cannabis under federal law. The undersigned highlight that de-scheduling is necessary to adequately address the structural inequalities and social damages created by the existing scheduling regime, even as they acknowledge the possible improvements that rescheduling to Schedule III may offer. Their position is indicative of a larger movement in political and popular opinion toward cannabis reform, as more states pass legalization laws and polls show broad support for more liberal cannabis laws.


Senator Warren's advocacy for de-scheduling cannabis resonates with the growing chorus of voices calling for a more pragmatic and forward-thinking approach to drug policy in the United States. By urging the DEA to "join the 21st century," she highlights the incongruity of maintaining outdated and overly punitive regulations on cannabis in the face of evolving social attitudes and scientific understanding. As the debate over cannabis reform continues to unfold, Warren's message serves as a rallying cry for policymakers to embrace evidence-based policy solutions and prioritize harm reduction, equity, and social justice in shaping the future of cannabis regulation.


Bottom Line


Senator Elizabeth Warren's advocacy for the complete de-scheduling of cannabis, alongside a bipartisan group of lawmakers, reflects a broader movement towards progressive cannabis reform in the United States. As anticipation builds for the DEA's decision, Warren's call to "join the 21st century" highlights the need to address systemic injustices and align federal policy with evolving public opinion. By urging comprehensive reform, Warren's efforts signal a shift towards evidence-based policy solutions and the prioritization of harm reduction and social equity in the regulation of marijuana.





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