There are many paths to the mountaintop. And there is more than one viable path from here to legal marijuana. Two leading progressive U.S. senators, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Cory Booker of New Jersey, know this. That’s why they’re urging Attorney General Merrick Garland to decriminalize Cannabis on his own, reports The News Station.
Efforts to bring sanity to marijuana policy seem stalled on Capitol Hill. So Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) sent a letter to the Department of Justice this week. In it, the senators ask Garland and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra to use the Controlled Substances Act to deschedule Cannabis.
Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA), the senators argue, if the attorney general and the health secretary are in agreement, they have the power to remove substances from the federal controlled substances list on their own.
Weed Is Still Schedule I Federally 😳
So far, 36 states, four territories, various native tribes and the District of Columbia have legalized Cannabis for medicinal or adult uses. But marijuana retains the federal status of a dangerous drug. That means it’s right alongside heroin as a Schedule I substance, even as OxyContin and cocaine are categorized as Schedule II. If that sounds like sheer insanity to you, the senators agree.
“We urge the DOJ to initiate the process to decriminalize cannabis,” Booker and Warren write. “Doing so would be an important first step in the broader tasks of remedying the harmful racial impact of our nation’s enforcement of cannabis laws and ensuring that states can effectively regulate the growing cannabis industry, including by assisting small business owners and those most harmed by our historical enforcement of cannabis laws.”
In their letter, the senators use President Joe Biden’s own words to make their case.
“It is far past time to decriminalize the use of cannabis in the United States. On the campaign trail, President Biden promised to ‘decriminalize the use of cannabis and automatically expunge all prior cannabis use convictions.’ He declared that ‘[n]obody should be in jail for smoking marijuana,’” the senators argue.
Biden’s moderate stance on reform has often frustrated legalization advocates, reports Marijuana Business Daily. The Senate is also seen by many as a major barrier to Cannabis law reform.
Addressing Racial Inequities
It’s also a racial equity issue, the senators write to Garland and Becerra.
“Decriminalizing cannabis is also a critical first step in addressing the racial inequities in cannabis law enforcement,” the letter reads. “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 senators’ next and final argument for relaxing Cannabis laws is focused on the medicinal properties of the plant.
“Moreover, decriminalizing cannabis is a vital step so that Americans seeking cannabis as a medical treatment option for conditions such as chronic pain, post-traumatic stress disorder, and terminal illness can legally use the drug,” Sens. Booker and Warren write. “Decriminalizing cannabis is crucial to facilitating scientific research and would be invaluable to doctors and patients across the nation.”
The zsenators are asking for a response from the Biden administration by Oct. 20.