Senators Put Pressure on DEA to Reschedule Marijuana

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A group of U.S. Democratic senators is putting pressure on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency to remove marijuana from its list of the most dangerous drugs.

DEA spokesman Russ Baer told the Wall Street Journal the agency will announce a decision “sometime soon” about whether it will reschedule marijuana from a federally prohibited substance to something less restrictive. But he did not expect a decision by June 30, countering widespread speculation in the cannabis industry.

Baer explained the DEA is in the “final stages” of its deliberations.

In a letter, eight Democratic senators urged the DEA and its parent agency, the Department of Justice, to drop marijuana from its Schedule I list of controlled substances. The Schedule I classification undermines research on marijuana’s potential health benefits, they wrote.

The Food and Drug Administration provided the DEA a “binding assessment” nine to 12 months ago about whether marijuana should be considered to have medical value. Schedule I drugs have no “currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Other drugs on the list include heroin, LSD and ecstasy.

The FDA assessment is the main factor on which the DEA will make its decision, Baer said. Nevertheless, the law requires the DEA to do its own analysis, he added.