Lawmakers Urge Federal Government to De-Schedule Marijuana

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Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
NORML, “Cory Booker Introduces the Marijuana Justice Act in US Senate,, Aug. 1, 2017

Efforts by legislators are underway asking the federal government to de-schedule marijuana. Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I drug, which means the drug is considered to have a “high potential for abuse,” “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States,” and “a lack of accepted safety for any use of the drug.” Without rescheduling, or removing the drug from the federal schedule, marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), a bipartisan nongovernmental organization (NGO) composed of legislators and legislative staff members, approved a resolution on Aug. 7, 2017 stating, “the National Conference of State Legislatures believes that the Controlled Substances Act should be amended to remove cannabis from scheduling thus enabling financial institutions the ability to provide banking services to cannabis related businesses.” The NCSL recommends allowing each state to craft legislation and regulations so that there may be “increase[d] transparency, public safety, and economic development where it is wanted.”

Additionally, on Aug. 2, 2017 Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which would deschedule cannabis, removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and, therefore, the jurisdiction of the US Drug Enforcement Agency. With Booker’s legislation, each state would set its own policies regarding marijuana and some federal funding would be withheld from states that do not legalize marijuana if their arrest and incarceration rates are racially skewed. Booker stated, “Descheduling marijuana and applying that change retroactively to people currently serving time for marijuana offenses is a necessary step in correcting this unjust system.” Earlier this year, Representatives Tom Garrett (R-VA) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) proposed marijuana de-scheduling in their Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, as did Representative Jared Polis (D-CO) in his Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act.

In response to Senator Booker’s bill, Kevin Sabet, President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), stated, “Given the opioid epidemic, legislative energy would be much better spent implementing solutions to that crisis. But the Big Marijuana lobbyists are probably very happy.”

Medical marijuana is legal in 29 states and DC, and marijuana is legal for adult use in eight states.


Hillary Borrud, “Oregon Lawmakers to the Federal Government: De-Schedule Marijuana,”, Aug. 8, 2017

Kerry Cavanaugh, “Opinion: Sen. Cory Booker’s Bill to Legalize Marijuana May Be a Long Shot, But It’s Still Worth Talking About,”, Aug. 4, 2017

Christopher Ingraham, “Sen. Cory Booker Puts Marijuana Legalization at the Center of His New Racial Justice Bill,”, Aug. 1, 2017

National Conference on State Legislatures, “National Conference of State Legislatures Urges De-Scheduling Marijuana,”, Aug. 7, 2017

National Conference on State Legislatures, “Policy Directives and Resolutions for Consideration,”, 2017