Democratic governors ask Biden to reschedule marijuana before end of year

Key Points
  • Six Democratic governors have requested that the Biden administration expedite the rescheduling of marijuana before the end of the year.
  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended moving marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3 of the Controlled Substances Act.
  • The recommendation is currently with the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is expected to review and potentially suggest a change to federal law.
  • The governors argue that rescheduling cannabis would align with public opinion, benefit public health and safety, and support the state-regulated cannabis industry.

Six Democratic governors have formally asked the Biden administration to move on rescheduling marijuana before the end of the calendar year.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommended in late August that marijuana be moved from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule 3.

That recommendation is now at the Drug Enforcement Administration, which is supposed to review questions of law and policy – and then, at some point, present a suggested change to federal law.

Observers expect the DEA to follow through, but it’s unclear when.

The six governors of states where some form of marijuana is legal want a resolution sooner than later.

“We hope that DEA will follow suit and reschedule cannabis … this year, given that 88 percent of Americans are in favor of legalization for medical or recreational use,” wrote the governors, led by Colorado’s Jared Polis.

“Rescheduling cannabis aligns with a safe, regulated product that Americans can trust,” the letter noted, in part.

“Most significantly, it will benefit our constituents by further protecting public health and safety.

“Plainly, supporting the state-regulated cannabis industry makes sense.”

Polis was joined in the plea to expedite rescheduling by:

Five of the governors represent states with adult-use industries; Louisiana is a medical-only market.

Beset by high taxes – including the onerous Section 280E of the federal tax code that prohibits cannabis businesses from taking standard business deductions on their federal returns – the marijuana industry has been waiting since August for the DEA to weigh in on the rescheduling process that the Biden administration launched in October 2022.