In a letter to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Congressman Steve Cohen has called on the agency to ‘act expeditiously’ on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommendation to reschedule cannabis.
The letter, addressed to the DEA’s Anne Milgram, references a statement by the during a DEA oversight hearing in which it said it ‘could not start the rescheduling process until the HHS’ had made a recommendation to do so.
Following the HHS’s recommendation on August 29, 2023, Mr Cohen said: “I urge you, in the strongest possible way, to follow through on HHS’s recommendation. It is critical that the DEA’s review is expeditious and that your agency quickly initiatae the rule making process.
“Marijuana never belonged on Schedule I. Its inclusion resulted in harsh and disproportionate prison sentences, particularly for communities of color. Nearly half the states have already legalized marijuana for recreational use by ballot measure. You have a historic opportunity to make meaningful progress as Congress works on legislation to deschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act and address some of the inequities caused by this misguided and discriminatory policy.”
It comes just days after the DEA confirmed that it is conducting a review into the reclassification of cannabis, asserting its ‘final authority’ over the decision.
As Business of Cannabis reported last week, the DEA is understood to have launched its review, but has insisted that it retains the “final authority to schedule, reschedule, or deschedule a drug under the Controlled Substances Act, after considering the relevant statutory and regulatory criteria and HHS’s scientific and medical evaluation”.
While previous precedent suggests the DEA will follow the HHS’s advice, the letter, sent last month, has been seen as a power play among lawmakers, emphasised by the DEA’s refusal to provide any sort of timeline or insight into its position in the letter.