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Bill Seeks to Reschedule Marijuana Under the CSA

Update: An additional bill which would reschedule marijuana to a Schedule III drug, HR 2020

Legislation is pending in the US House, HR 715, to amend the Controlled Substances Act so that marijuana is no longer classified as a Schedule I controlled substance and so that cannabidiol (CBD) is excluded from the federal definition of cannabis.

Cannabidiol is a non-mood altering constituent in the marijuana plant that possesses a variety of therapeutic effects, particularly anti-seizure properties. Over a dozen states recognize by statute that CBD is safe and therapeutically effective.

Further, the cannabis plant’s schedule I classification has long been inconsistent with the available evidence. Most recently, the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a comprehensive report acknowledging that "conclusive or substantial evidence" exists for cannabis' efficacy in patients suffering from chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and other conditions. This finding is incompatible with the plant’s Schedule I status, which opines that it possess “no accepted medical use in the United States.” Twenty-nine states now permit physicians to authorize marijuana therapy to qualified patients.

While simply rescheduling marijuana under federal law, rather than descheduling it entirely, will not end federal prohibition, it will bring about some needed changes in law. At a minimum, it would bring an end to the federal government’s longstanding intellectual dishonesty that marijuana ‘lacks accepted medical use.’ It would also likely permit banks and other financial institutions to work with state-compliant marijuana-related businesses, and permit employers in the cannabis industry to take tax deductions similar to those enjoyed by other businesses. Rescheduling would also likely bring some level of relief to federal employees subject to random workplace drug testing for off-the-job cannabis consumption.

Other provisions in the measure seek to remove federal regulations restricting cannabis research and seek to limit federal interference in state-authorized medical marijuana programs.

For these reasons, we urge your support for HR 715 while also recognizing that ultimately cannabis must be removed from the Controlled Substances Act altogether. Passage of HR 715 is a first step in this process.



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