As the hatred towards legalizing marijuana continues grows for U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions he has repeatedly hinted at a possible crackdown against states that have approved recreational or medical marijuana sales, different members of Congress have introduced bills directed at improving the way the federal government deals with marijuana, including its designation as a Schedule I narcotic by the Drug Enforcement Administration. But there’s disagreement among national leaders of the cannabis community about whether it would be preferable to shift marijuana to Schedule II or Schedule III or to de-schedule it entirely.
HR 714, backed by Representative H. Morgan Griffith, a Virginia Republican, and introduced in January, would move marijuana from Schedule I, which falls into the same category as heroin and recognizes no medical advantages, to Schedule II alongside cocaine, opium and other substances that can be used medically. Another Griffith bill, HR 715, calls for medical marijuana to be switched from Schedule I to different DEA classification, but doesn’t give the specifics on which one. And in April, Representative Matt Gaetz, a Republican from Florida, put forward HR 2020, which would place marijuana in Schedule III, where assorted stimulants (e.g., Benzphetamine), depressants (Amobarbital) and products such as Tylenol with Codeine are listed.
How Can (NORML) Further Help De-Schedule Marijuana
Still, these legislative efforts fall short in the view of Justin Strekal, political director for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
“NORML is committed to a de-schedule effort,”Strekal says. “The growing acceptance of marijuana reform and the growing consensus that we inevitably need to take cannabis out of Schedule I is demonstrated by the introduction of these bills, but quite frankly, we don’t think they go far enough. We want it to be regulated in a similar manner to alcohol.”
“We have a growing momentum in Congress, with the formation of the Congressional Cannabis Caucus,” a coalition that includes Colorado representatives Ed Perlmutter and Jared Polis, Strekal points out. He adds: “At the end of the day, we’ve already seen eight states legalize adult use, and we expect that number to grow significantly in the coming years. It’s time for the federal government to get out of the way.”
Mason Tvert, the Colorado-based spokesperson for the Marijuana Policy Project, has a similar feeling about de-scheduling.
“We believe that marijuana should be removed entirely from drug schedules, because it’s less harmful than alcohol and other products that are not included in the schedules,” Tvert says.
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