A letter from 18 individual members of Congress requesting that the President Obama “instruct Attorney General Holder to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II,” was delivered yesterday.
The letter cites the ethical and financial failures of the drug war, including the disparity in arrests for black cannabis users and the president’s own statements on cannabis in comparison with alcohol and tobacco. The letter goes on to say that cannabis is scheduled higher than both cocaine and methamphetamine, two examples President Obama has cited as harder drugs than cannabis.
“This makes no sense,” the letter says.
The congressmen also argue that the current schedule is an impediment to cannabis businesses in legal states.
“A Schedule I or II classification also means that marijuana businesses in states where adult or medical use are legal cannot deduct business expenses from their taxes or take tax credits due to Section 280 E of the federal tax code.”
The members of congress signing the letter to the president include 17 Democrats and one Republican.
Many of the signees on the letter are from regions that tax cannabis. Four of the congressmen who signed the request represent districts in Northern California, the birthplace of the medical cannabis industry. In addition, signee Jared Polis (D- Boulder, Colo.) was an outspoken proponent of Amendment 64, which legalized recreational use and sales of cannabis in the state of Colorado in November 2012.
The lone Republican, Dana Rohrabacher (R- Huntington Beach, Calif.), has been an outspoken proponent of the cannabis industry, introducing legislation in April 2013 asking that the federal government respect state marijuana laws. Rohrabacher’s bill, HR 1523 never made it to the House or Senate floor for a vote.
Through the Feb. 12 letter the congressmen also condemn the administration’s response to public interest surrounding legal and recreational sales in more than half of U.S. states.
“Statements such as ones from DEA Chief of Operations James L. Capra that legalization of marijuana at the state level is ‘reckless and irresponsible’ serve no purposes other than to inflame passions and misinform the public.”
The letter aims to play off momentum towards changing federal policy on cannabis, a legal reality that has continued to impede growth of the fastest growing industry in the United States today. In January, the Obama Administration announced plans to commute non-violent drug offenders’ sentences and reexamine mandatory minimum sentencing laws.
“Thank you for your continued thoughtfulness about this important issue. We believe the current system wastes resources and destroys lives, in turn damaging families and communities,” the letter concludes. “Taking action is long overdue.”