WASHINGTON – At long last, the notoriously tight-lipped Drug Enforcement Administration confirmed it is reviewing a recommendation that cannabis be moved from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act.
And the agency indicated it may be getting a bit testy with federal legislators over what DEA appears to view as congressional overreach.
In a letter sent October 27, a bipartisan group of thirty-one congress members led by Reps. Earl Bluemenauer (D-OR) and David Joyce (R-OH) urged the DEA to completely deschedule the plant. The signatories cited potential economic benefits from descheduling and opined merely moving the plant to a less-restrictive category would not sufficiently address criminal-justice issues or the federal-state policy gap. The letter also reminded the agency several reform bills are pending in Congress, some of which propose descheduling.
“The decision to schedule marijuana was rooted in stigma rather than an evidence-based process…,” the two-page missive stated. “Marijuana’s continued inappropriate scheduling is both arcane and out-of-touch with the will of the American people. We look forward to your response and the Drug Enforcement Administration working transparently and proactively with Congress to adopt this crucial step.”
Michael Miller, acting chief for DEA’s Office of Congressional Affairs responded December 19 in a polite-but-terse memo that came to light in early January (because the House adjourned for the holidays on December 14).
“DEA has the final authority to schedule, reschedule, or deschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act…,” he stated in the letter. “DEA is now conducting its review.”
Miller offered no hints about how long the process might take.