Drug Policy Alliance Commends Congressional Marijuana Reform Champions for Supporting Descheduling

Statement Maritza Perez Medina January 30, 2024
Media Contact

Maggie Hart [email protected]

Washington, D.C. – On Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) led 11 of her colleagues, including Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), in sending a letter to the Biden Administration in support of comprehensive marijuana descheduling and legalization. The letter, which was addressed to Attorney General Merrick Garland and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, also raised questions about the Administration’s intentions to reschedule marijuana from Schedule I, the most restrictive class, to Schedule III, a less restrictive class. As outlined in a recent Congressional report, shifting marijuana to Schedule III would result in changes to research restrictions and tax relief for marijuana businesses, but the harms of federal marijuana criminalization would continue.

In response to the Congressional letter and growing support for marijuana descheduling, Maritza Perez Medina, Director of the Office of Federal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), released the following statement:

“Marijuana criminalization is rooted in racism and this hideous legacy is seen in today’s impacts on criminalization. Most states have decriminalized marijuana to some extent, but people across the country are still being arrested, jailed, deported, or otherwise punished for marijuana law violations. These are not just statistics, these are our neighbors, community members, friends and family members. These are our loved ones who must live with lifelong collateral consequences stemming from marijuana activity.

“We all deserve marijuana laws rooted in equity, health, safety, and dignity. In order to end the ongoing harms caused by federal marijuana criminalization, marijuana must be descheduled. The DEA must deschedule marijuana to decriminalize it, meaning it must be completely removed from the CSA. Additionally, President Biden must direct federal agencies to restore rights to individuals who have experienced marijuana criminalization and repair the harms that decades of racially-discriminatory enforcement has caused.

“We thank Senator Warren for her leadership, and we commend all Congressional marijuana reform champions who signed onto their letter calling for marijuana legalization and descheduling. A growing number of members of Congress and a majority of voters are in agreement: it’s long past time to end federal marijuana criminalization.”


Recent documents released by the Health and Human Services Administration affirm that marijuana has medical value and a low likelihood of abuse and recommend rescheduling marijuana as a Schedule III drug on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). However, a recent Congressional report reveals a clear disconnect between the intent behind rescheduling and its impacts on Americans who use marijuana or work in marijuana-related businesses, clearly stating that anything short of descheduling would maintain federal marijuana criminalization and all the harms associated with it. Considering this, Congressional support for descheduling – instead of rescheduling – is growing. Organizations like the Drug Policy Alliance and its allies at United for Marijuana Decriminalization are urging President Biden to fulfill his 2020 campaign pledge to fully decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and begin to repair the harm caused by criminalization.


About the Drug Policy Alliance 

The Drug Policy Alliance is the leading organization in the U.S. working to end the drug war, repair its harms, and build a non-punitive, equitable, and regulated drug market. We envision a world that embraces the full humanity of people, regardless of their relationship to drugs. We advocate that the regulation of drugs be grounded in evidence, health, equity, and human rights. In collaboration with other movements and at every policy level, we change laws, advance justice, and save lives. Learn more at drugpolicy.org.

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