In a letter to President Joe Biden (D), the Marijuana Justice Coalition and Cannabis Freedom Alliance said that the administration’s plans to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act “would simply maintain federal criminalization” of state-approved medical and adult-use cannabis programs, calling instead for full descheduling under federal law.
“Currently, the cannabis marketplace is regulated by 48 states through various regulatory systems. In our federal system, these laboratories of democracy should not be impeded in their development of effective measures to ensure public safety and promote public health. Any action to move marijuana to another CSA schedule rather than removing it would simply maintain federal criminalization of these programs, licensed companies, and individuals operating in a fully legal manner under existing state rules and regulations. Further, this mere change of scheduling classification as opposed to descheduling would not alleviate existing distrust in law enforcement around cannabis given the supermajority public support for ending criminalization.” — Marijuana Justice Coalition, Cannabis Freedom Alliance in the November 2 letter
The letter notes that, according to Federal Bureau of Investigation data, nearly 250,000 individuals were arrested nationwide for cannabis-related crimes in 2021 and that Black people were arrested at three times the rate of their white counterparts, despite similar rates of cannabis use.
“People arrested for marijuana often face severe penalties, including months of prison or jail time and thousands of dollars in fines,” the letter states. “Incarceration or an arrest creates barriers to securing gainful employment, education, and housing opportunities.”
The letter urges Biden to use his influence in Congress to pass comprehensive cannabis descheduling legislation “that includes a well-thought-out plan for reasonable federal regulation and for implementing interstate commerce that protects public health and the ability for small businesses to thrive in the emerging legal marketplace.”
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