14 congressional Republicans oppose proposed marijuana rescheduling

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Fourteen Republican federal lawmakers are voicing their opposition to a key federal agency’s recent recommendation that marijuana be rescheduled.

In a letter to U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief Anne Milgram, eight Republican senators and six GOP representatives declared the Department of Health and Human Services’ Aug. 29 recommendation to move marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 of the Controlled Substances Act part of an “irresponsible” “pro-pot agenda” and urged that MJ remain listed among the most dangerous drugs.

The letter was sent to Milgram because it’s now up to her and federal attorneys to consider relevant questions of law and policy in a review of the recommendation by Health and Human Services (HSS).

It’s unclear when the DEA will move on the HHS recommendation, but experts predict it could be as early as this year.

“Any effort to reschedule marijuana should be based on proven facts and science – not popular opinion, changes in state laws, or the preferred policy of an administration,” the Republicans, led by Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma and Texas GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, wrote in the Sept. 11 letter to the DEA.

“Current research, science, and trends support the case that marijuana should remain a Schedule 1 drug.”

The lawmakers repeated familiar claims against marijuana, including:

  • 30% of cannabis users “have marijuana use disorder.”
  • Modern-day marijuana is three times stronger than it was 25 years ago, leading to higher rates of addiction.
  • No marijuana treatments have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Along with Lankford and Sessions – who once compared the marijuana industry to slavery – the letter was signed by:

  • Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee.
  • Sen. Ted Budd, North Carolina.
  • Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas.
  • Sen. Mike Crapo, Idaho.
  • Sen. Markwayne Mullin, Oklahoma.
  • Sen. James Risch, Idaho.
  • Sen. M. Michael Rounds, South Dakota.
  • Rep. Robert Aderholt, Alabama.
  • Rep. Earl “Buddy” Carter, Georgia.
  • Rep. Andy Biggs, Arizona.
  • Rep. Chuck Edwards, North Carolina.
  • Rep. Hal Rogers, Kentucky.

President Joe Biden launched the first federal administrative review of marijuana’s legal status last October, calling current federal policy a “failed approach.”

As MJBizDaily reported, the review included parsing data from state-sanctioned medical marijuana programs, including what MMJ products patients used and how the drug affected their health.

Marijuana was declared a Schedule 1 controlled substance in 1970, a designation for drugs with no medicinal value and a high potential for abuse.

Despite being contradicted almost immediately by a 1972 expert panel commissioned by President Richard Nixon, the Schedule 1 designation has stood ever since.

The HHS recommendation to reschedule is the federal government’s first acknowledgement that marijuana has medicinal value – a watershed moment the Republicans blasted as “irresponsible.”

“It is irresponsible for HHS to recommend that marijuana be removed from Schedule I,” the letter concluded.

“It would also be irresponsible for (the) DEA to act on this recommendation.”