U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) have sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the federal controlled substances list.
“Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), the Attorney General can remove a substance from the CSA’s list, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). Decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level via this descheduling process would allow states to regulate cannabis as they see fit, begin to remedy the harm caused by decades of racial disparities in enforcement of cannabis laws, and facilitate valuable medical research. While Congress works to pass comprehensive cannabis reform, you can act now to decriminalize cannabis.” — Booker and Warren in the Oct. 6, 2021 letter
In the letter, the senators called out President Joe Biden (D) for so far failing to uphold his campaign promise to decriminalize cannabis and expunge all prior federal cannabis use convictions.
“Decriminalizing cannabis is also a critical first step in addressing the racial inequities in cannabis law enforcement,” the senators wrote in the letter to Garland. “Federal cannabis policy has disproportionately affected the ability of people of color in the United States to vote, to pursue education, and to build intergenerational wealth. You can begin to repair the harm that the criminalization of cannabis has wrought on communities of color by using your statutory and regulatory authority to deschedule this drug.”
The letter notes that the National Institute on Drug Abuse — a part of the federal National Institutes of Health — has acknowledged that THC “has proven medical benefits in particular formulations” and that the Food and Drug Administration has approved THC synthetics as medications for patients with AIDS and patients undergoing chemotherapy and has also approved a CBD medication for pediatric patients suffering from epilepsy.
In the letter, the senators request that the attorney general responds as to whether they will consider ordering an HHS review — the first step in the process — by October 20.
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