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Obama Administration “Willing To Work” With Congress To Reschedule Marijuana


eric-holder-marijuanaAttorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the Obama administration would be willing to work with Congress if lawmakers want to reschedule marijuana.

Re-categorizing marijuana would not legalize the drug under federal law, but it could ease restrictions on research into marijuana’s medical benefits and allow marijuana businesses to take tax deductions.

“Rescheduling would be a modest step in the right direction, but would do nothing to stop marijuana arrests or prohibition-related violence,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “Now that the majority of the American public supports taxing and regulating marijuana, this debate about re-scheduling is a bit antiquated and not a real solution to the failures of marijuana prohibition.”

Holder’s comments come on the heels of guidance issued by the Justice Department that indicated the Obama Administration will not undermine state marijuana legalizationprovided states are responsibly regulating marijuana businesses. In an interview with The New Yorker earlier this year, President Obama said marijuana is less harmful to people who use it than alcohol, the war on marijuana is creating unjust racial disparities, and it is important for state legalization to move forward “because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.” In February, Attorney General Eric Holder announced new guidelines that will allow banks to legally provide financial services to state-licensed marijuana businesses.

“We’d be more than glad to work with Congress if there is a desire to look at and reexamine how the drug is scheduled, as I said there is a great degree of expertise that exists in Congress,” Holder said during today’s House Appropriations Committee hearing. “It is something that ultimately Congress would have to change, and I think that our administration would be glad to work with Congress if such a proposal were made.”

Here is the Drug Policy Alliance’s position on rescheduling:

  • The current system for classifying illegal (and most legal) drugs is flawed, outdated and unscientific.
  • Rescheduling would be a modest step in the right direction, possibly opening the door for limited research. Symbolically, it would be a victory for commonsense drug policy, acknowledging the weight of the scientific evidence and popular support for medical marijuana.
  • However, simply moving marijuana to a less restrictive schedule would not protect existing state medical marijuana programs or change federal penalties for possessing, cultivating, and distributing marijuana. Nor would it remove all obstacles to research or force DEA and NIDA to allow research to move forward.
  • Rescheduling would not prevent people from being arrested and punished for using marijuana recreationally.
  • DPA believes that patients must have safe and immediate access to medical marijuana, including the ability to cultivate it in their own homes; that existing state medical marijuana programs, including those with functioning dispensaries, must be protected; that all barriers to marijuana research must be eliminated; that marijuana is of acceptable safety to be regulated more or less like alcohol; and that states like Colorado and Washington, which have decided to regulate marijuana for adult recreational use, should be allowed to do so without federal interference.
  • To these ends, DPA supports the de-scheduling, or complete removal, of marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 and its regulation for adult consumption in a manner similar to alcohol. De-scheduling can only occur through Congressional action.

For more background on marijuana rescheduling, see DPA’s fact sheet: Removing Marijuana From the Controlled Substances Act

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. No, Tom — he’s been picking and choosing which parts of that massive bill to enforce and when. He hasn’t changed anything in it. Changing a law requires Congress.

    Changing the classification of a substance in the Controlled Substances Act does not, according to section 812 of that particular law (just how Nixon wanted it).

    It’s amazing what you can learn if you use the internet for more than cute pictures of cats. For instance, did you know you can read ANY law you want? You don’t have to take someone’s word for it — you can read them, yourself. You can even stream CSPAN if reading is too hard. Bottom line, you smell of someone who gets all of his information through a particularly biased filter. You ought to strive to be more epistemically responsible. Your brain, your knowledge, so don’t ride shotgun when establishing your own beliefs, because YOU are the only person who will be held responsible if/when you repeat something inflammatory you heard on talk radio.

    I know it’s “trendy” right now to be on the anti-Obama wagon (and you’ll find no shortage of his critics here, due to the federal crackdown we’ve witnessed), but you should consider from where that misdirected attitude of yours stems. Honestly, Tom — if Obama signs a bill to permanently (as in the next POTUS can’t undo it) reschedule or remove cannabis from the CSA, I’ll be the first one to take back every nasty thing I’ve ever said about him.

  2. If and when its totally legalized, they will do something so that Joe Schmo can’t grow it himself. You buy in Colorado now, its $400oz with tax. You can grow the same stuff, have enough for yourself and make a profit. The government will put a halt to that REALLY QUICK.

  3. Why is he bothering with Congress? He just makes and changes laws as he see fits. Hence Obamacare.

  4. Boris and Natasha on

    Obama (also known as Bush3) is a liar and a fool. One executive order and marijuana is rescheduled. It does not take an act of Congress. Jeez, does anyone still believe a word obama says?

  5. @Foxeh, I had to answer you, this is deadly serious. Don’t get caught in the “conventional” lingo that includes cannabis among “drug” but doesn’t notice that $igarette tobacco is World Death Drug #1 with 6,000,000 fatalities a year. 800,000 American kids are still getting hooked on that every year while the quarrel over cannabis “drug” winds down.
    What to do? “Bend the rules” and invite the brother and girl friend, even if a year or two under 18, to get ONE-HIT LITERATE. (A) SUBSTITUTE cannabis for tobacco, and (B) SUBSTITUTE a 25-mg. single-toke utensil with a long drawtube (cheaply handmade) or vaporizer for 700-mg H-ot B-urning O-verdose M-onoxide $igarettes (no difference what herb, cannabis, tobacco, alfalfa, basil, chamomile, damiana, eucalyptus or whatever). Free instructions how to make your own one-hitter (socket wrench type or hose nipple type) at wikiHow.com/”Make Pipes from Everyday Objects”.

  6. Like a lot of folks, I sent a letter to the White House advocating for rescheduling. I got an automated “thank you” response, three months ago. The only reason I bring it up is that I sent the letter in 2009 (again, like a lot of folks). That automated response, generated five years later, made me suspicious *something* like this was on the horizon — maybe they JUST started reading them.

    I want to believe Obama wants to do the right thing, but I’m too old and too cynical to let my hopes influence my beliefs, anymore. The only plausible explanation I can come up with is that Obama and the Democrats plan to make cannabis a wedge issue in the 2014 midterms. Once upon a time, I voiced a half-baked idea that the GOP could be fractured in half between the commonsense libertarian conservatives and the overly religious prescriptive moralist conservatives, if cannabis becomes a nationally engaged, respected issue.

    Cannabis, after all, is the one issue that brings rappers and rednecks together. My observation has been that Willie Nelson fans and Snoop fans get along just fine if they’re sharing a bowl. If cannabis became a wedge issue in 2014, the GOP could shatter, no matter which side of the argument they decide to take. The leftovers from the “Silent Majority” (mostly all the old fogeys) will be at odds with the Libertarian elements, who overwhelmingly support cannabis legalization.

    The Democrats get their lunch handed to them in every midterm election. This might just be a winning strategy, honestly. This issue could make the lazy “I have better things to do than vote” liberal elitists (hipster kids) actually turn out for once.

  7. Jeez… Why even open your mouths, at all? The last thing cannabis reform needs is for the Obama administration to turn the issue into another chew-toy for Fox News to play fetch with the tea people.

    Yes, Obama has to do it WITH congress, if we want to make sure the change sticks. Otherwise, an EO can/will be overridden by the next President. And if that next President is Chris Christie, you can be certain of it.

    I see all the criticisms, already. He’s “passing the buck” to Congress. So next, when Congress does NOTHING as we have come to expect, the criticism will evolve into the more common, yet vague, “he’s not showing leadership” (because he can’t suddenly make Republicans in the House of Reps into sane, rational people).

    Well what if he DID order Holder or the Sec of HHS to reschedule??? He can!!!

    Predictably, his parrot detractors would repeat one of their favorites: “Emperor Obama is once again overreaching the authority of his office.” They would say it despite the fact that it isn’t an overreach, that the law says in no uncertain terms the executive branch can reschedule, simply because Obama’s professional critics know most of the political know-nothings they’re pandering to don’t have a clue what the law ACTUALLY says.

    The fact that I finally got a response to my letter to the WH about cannabis rescheduling three months ago (I sent it in 2009) tripped my radar that something might be coming on this front, but honestly, I was hoping the White House would keep their nose out of it. We couldn’t get background checks through Congress, despite over 90% support from the nation, simply because the President spearheaded the effort. He was “using” children, remember?

    I want to believe Obama wants to do the right thing, but I’m too old and too cynical to let my hopes influence my beliefs, anymore. All of us have to live in reality — a lot still choose to keep their eyes and ears firmly shut to keep reality from creeping in. Not sure what the endgame is, here.

  8. Any Obama administration move towards a more reasonable position on marijuana must be considered a positive, because it will encourage states to proceed in overruling prohibition – the less perceived conflict with federal policy the better.

    I agree that Congress must modify the Controlled Substances Act; that should be the goal, of course. Representatives work for their constituents, not the President – they need to know what We the People demand of them.

  9. Trippin Sanchez on

    Obama has the power to do this without congress, quit lying and passing the buck you schmuck, we know you really do not give a phuck

  10. Like all politicians – you gotta watch their double speak – lips moving? Then it’s a lie – at least to you and me. What he REALLY meant was – “We’ll be glad to have congress reschedule – but only if it’s exclusive for Big Pharma and the Tobacco industry. With GW’s new line for epiliptic children, plus Marinol, Drabinol, Sativex – and all the new ones they’re holding back on till legalization, the public will be fully covered. No need to free the weed for Joe the Plumber to grow in his back yard for free. You know they’ll screw us – always have, always will. Greed = Money and Power.

  11. If this doesn’t happen with in the next year. Then the government has really lost there mind. Why in the hell hasn’t this happened already. It is the dumbest thing since Benghazi and it is making the government look like thing don’t know what they are doing at all. Wake up and smell the pot you morons. Weed is great and it should be treated as so.

  12. Foxeh Chandonnet on

    My problem is, Marijuana is a Schedule 1, but yet the government acknowledges its medicine. And even has a Federal Marijuana Program called the Compassionate IND (Which has been servicing patients with Marijuana since the 70’s). Yeah its closed to new enrollment, but they still have patients receiving medical weed from the US Government. And while we have parents who are trying to get their Epileptic children CBD Oil (which has NO Psychoactive properties), and who are being turned away BY the government; we have these crazy Brain Washed parents who are saying “Its a danger to children, whom we wish to protect”. In a previous study, it was shown that PARENTING! Actual Parenting! Was the key to keeping children off illicit and harmful drugs. Not a program that lied to children. I swear, when my little brother was 9 years old, this little doe-y eyed child walked into my room, and he asked me

    “So-and-so?” (I aint giving my name, lol) “So-and-so? Why arent you dead yet?”

    And i was a little shocked
    “What do you mean, why am i not dead yet?!
    “We learned in School, that if you touch Marijuana, you will die…i dont want you to die”
    “Boy? No one has EEEEEEVER died from smoking weed. Ever”
    “Thats not what the cop told us”

    Now, his father was never in the picture, my mom works 24/7 as does my older brother. They were the only ones keeping a roof over our head, while i played nurse to my disabled grandparents, kept the house clean and kept my little brother managed as well. And after cooking and cleaning 24/7, helping the child with his homework, and helping keep my grandparents bathed, diaper changed, clean clothed, clean bedded, clean pisspadded, well fed and well hydrated…as well as keeping them moving and entertained, smoking weed was my only stress reliever. I honestly looked at it as my reward for all my hard work. At the end of the night, when everyone had gone to bed, i would smoke with my older brother, who would get home after a 12 hour shift on his feet, and we would just talk and play video games. Unwind, y’know? So here i am, and my little brother needs to know the truth about Marijuana.

    “Child, Marijuana is not bad for you. But at your age, there are things you are not allowed to do. And the problem with smoking weed is, yes its fun and it makes everything you do seem more magical. But you want to be something special when you grow up, right? Later on in life, when your friends are good at what they do, your going to look back on what YOUR good at doing? You remember my friends, Ducky and Ploof? Ploof is a Casino dealer now, and Ducky runs a game store. You know what im good at doing? Changing grandma’s diaper and smoking weed. Is that what you want to be good at when your my age? When all your other friends went on to DO something with their lives?”

    …The little bastard has stayed Drug Free, is a first string defense on his Highschool Football Team, has a shot at college, and has a smart and attractive girlfriend with a car. Problem is, they smoke WAAAAAAY too many cigarettes and i dunno WHERE he gets the alcohol from, he’s only 17 and it isn’t from me. I don’t drink and smoke…just weed :P

  13. Johnny Bloomington on

    BS! Obama’s just passing the buck again to the most “do nothing congress” in history!

    Punting the ball again…

  14. Winston Smith on

    If the executive branch were serious about this, they would re-schedule now and put the ball in Congress’ court to de-schedule and modify the Controlled Substances Act.

  15. To those who are still angry at the Obama administration for its failure to legalize weed, please note the last sentence in this article, “De-scheduling can only occur through Congressional action.” While it may be possible to RE-schedule cannabis down to the level of “safer” substances such as codeine, cocaine, Methadone and methamphetamine (all insanely classified as less dangerous than cannabis) by Presidential action, it will literally take an act of Congress to remove reefer from Federal restriction.

  16. Doc Deadhead on

    Like I have posted many times before, the war on cannabis must end.

    A rescheduling of cannabis is far overdue but as far as I am concerned…. ‘cannabis’ is the ONLY drug that needs rescheduling.

    We certainly do not want our children to have safe access(when they grow up) to anything that could harm them.

    Cannabis is HARMLESS. Please tell everyone you know that Cannabis has NEVER killed anyone……EVER.

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