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Mario Sánchez Prada

California Legislature Joins the Fight to Deschedule Cannabis

For decades, medical cannabis patients and activists have called for the Federal Government to remove cannabis from the Schedule 1 narcotic list — now, the legislatures in California have taken a remarkable step toward validating those claims.

The California Assembly just passed a joint resolution in a 60-10 vote that calls for the federal descheduling of cannabis. Earlier this year, the California Senate passed the same resolution 34 to 2 as part of a request that Congress loosen banking restrictions on the cannabis industry. Removing cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances would significantly improve the environment for cannabis entrepreneurs by opening access to the banking system, and would promote more research into medical cannabis by allowing federally funded institutions to conduct medical cannabis inquiries.

Not needing the Governor’s signature, the joint resolution will now be sent to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, California’s 2 Senators and California’s 53-member Congressional delegation. The Trump administration has not signaled a willingness to support cannabis reform, but the Senate Appropriations Committee has expressed concerns that the Schedule 1 designation is impeding medical cannabis research.

Consider New Jersey Senator Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act, which itself would deschedule cannabis, and there appears to be a groundswell of efforts to finally move cannabis from the Schedule 1 category.

The Controlled Substances Act set up the “scheduling” system in 1972 and sorted narcotics into five schedules. Cannabis was curiously put into the same Schedule 1 category as LSD and heroin, a designation reserved for “highly addictive” substances with “no known medical uses,” where it has remained for 45 years despite a large pool of research showing cannabis to be effective in treating a wide variety of medical conditions.

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