National law enforcement group urges marijuana rescheduling

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A group of reform-minded police chiefs and prosecutors urged the Biden administration in a letter sent Thursday to reclassify marijuana as a less harmful drug under federal law.

The Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration’s membership includes U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration chief Anne Milgram.

Milgram’s DEA is currently on notice to respond to an August recommendation from federal health regulators to downgrade marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 3 drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

Rescheduling, which would grant cannabis retailers significant tax relief, would be the most significant federal marijuana reform since the CSA was signed into law in 1970, most experts agree.

“We believe that reclassification under schedule III would be an important step to help both federal and state law enforcement better prioritize limited public safety resources,” the Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration wrote in the letter.

That organization, whose members are current and former prosecutors and leaders of law enforcement agencies, is an effort of the New York University School of Law’s Brennan Center for Justice.

Though the law enforcement group’s website lists Milgram as a member, she did not sign Thursday’s letter.

The letter’s lead signatories were Ronal Serpas, a former police chief in New Orleans and Nashville who is the group’s executive director; and Art Acevedo, a former police chief in Miami and Houston.

Other signatories include Cyrus Vance Jr., a former Manhattan district attorney who announced in 2018 he would not prosecute marijuana possession cases, and current Denver District Attorney Beth McCann.

Rescheduling would allow law enforcement to “focus efforts on working together to combat the harms that arise from unregulated cannabis markets,” the letter continued.

“Moreover, rescheduling would also allow legal markets to compete on a level playing field potentially leading to greater reinvestments in critical programs that can bolster public safety.

“Such a move would advance public safety and promote more efficient and effective use of law enforcement resources across the country.”

Meanwhile, according to NBC News, six prominent military veterans’ groups wrote to the Justice Department – which oversees the DEA – to push for rescheduling:

  • American GI Forum.
  • American Legion.
  • Blinded Veterans Association.
  • Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.
  • Minority Veterans of America.

Despite constant prodding from members of Congress and other reform advocates, it’s unknown when the DEA will respond to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Aug. 29 recommendation to reschedule.