Cannabis businesses would be less likely to face federal government intervention and have better access to banking as a bipartisan bill introduced Tuesday in the House of Representatives would reclassify marijuana, recognizing that it has some medical value.
Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen and Republican Don Young of Alaska want to reclassify cannabis as a schedule II drug from its current classification of a Schedule I narcotic, which according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, has no medicinal uses.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators earlier this month introduced a similar bill.
The goal, the representatives say, is to bring relief to patients suffering from certain illnesses such as epilepsy, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. As several states have legalized marijuana for various medical uses, the anecdotal evidence has continued to grow that the drug can have positive effects on a variety of ailments.
Cohen said the fact that treatments aren’t available to patients in the 27 states that don’t allow medical marijuana is “cruel and heartless.” Young said in a press release that cannabis legalization is a state’s rights issue that shouldn’t be regulated by the federal government.
Some industry experts have said rescheduling marijuana to a schedule II drug would help with banking and keep federal agents from interfering with businesses that are legal in certain states. Others, however, feel the rescheduling debate is a distraction that would do little to help pro-legalization efforts.