Two Republican lawmakers have filed a measure that would force federal agencies to receive Congressional approval before they can reschedule cannabis. The Deferring Executive Authority (DEA) Act is sponsored by Senators Steve Daines and Cynthia Lummis, who provided brief previews of the measure during statements regarding the Secure and Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act.
The recently introduced measure would require any federal agency interested in rescheduling cannabis to first submit to Congress its proposal for transferring the Schedule I drug from one classification to another. Congressional lawmakers would have the chance to review the proposal and would be granted 60 session days to block the measure’s enactment via a joint resolution if they opposed it.
The two lawmakers introduced the measure weeks after the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) recommended that the DEA reclassify marijuana to a lower schedule due to its proven medical applications and lower abuse potential. Lummis said in a press statement that Congress is in charge of crafting laws for the nation, “not DC bureaucrats.”
The DEA Act would allow Americans to “have the final say” on something as significant as cannabis legalization through their elected leaders.
Cannabis has been a controversial topic since states began legalizing the plant more than 20 years ago. While the cannabis movement enjoyed strong support from the reform movement and younger generations, many conservatives and even Democrats weren’t comfortable with the idea of legalizing a drug they considered dangerous and a gateway to criminal activity.
However, surveys now show that a majority of Americans support at least decriminalizing the plant, something that has become clearer as voters in state after state choose to legalize cannabis for either medical or recreational uses. In addition, President Biden based part of his campaign platform on decriminalizing cannabis and putting a final end to the era of cannabis prohibition. However, the administration has been accused of dragging its feet when it comes to cannabis.
The HHS’s recent recommendation to ease federal marijuana restrictions was part of a 2022 request by the Biden administration to review the nation’s federal marijuana classification. Although cannabis is now legal in dozens of states, federal law still considers it a Schedule I drug with no medical application.
Several lawmakers including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer have pledged to introduce legislation to legalize cannabis at the federal level. However, Lummis said that the Biden administration’s race to reschedule the controversial plant seems to be steeped in political rather than scientific reasons.
Lummis was part of a group of GOP Senate and House lawmakers who sent the DEA a letter asking the administrator to reject the Department of Health and Human Services’ request to reschedule cannabis.
Marijuana companies such as Curaleaf Holdings Inc. (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF) are probably waiting to see the final position that the DEA communicates regarding the cannabis scheduling review process since that change could have major implications on how they conduct their operations.
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