Senator Elizabeth Warren Calls for the Removal of Marijuana from Controlled Substance List on ‘The Late Show’

As the year progresses, there is great anticipation for a potentially groundbreaking year for marijuana, with campaigners and users in the United States eagerly awaiting the final decision of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on whether to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule III controlled substance.

The collective excitement for a final resolution is palpable following the recommendation made by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the DEA in December 2023. Recent reports suggest that the White House may soon announce the outcome of the pending review, although an official from the Biden administration has denied any immediate announcements for the following week.

Meanwhile, various advocates and lawmakers argue that simply moving marijuana to a different category is insufficient, and instead call for the complete removal of marijuana from the controlled substance list. One of the prominent figures advocating for this is Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who recently appeared on The Late Show to express her viewpoint.

Emphasizing the Push for Descheduling Marijuana

Following a segment on the economy and inflation, host Stephen Colbert turned to a letter from the previous week. This letter was led by Warren and Senator John Fetterman (D-PA), along with nine other Democrats, including U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

The letter urges the DEA and the Biden administration to completely remove marijuana from the controlled substance list. The legislators acknowledge that reclassifying marijuana to Schedule III would be a significant step forward, but it would not address the most harmful consequences of the current system.

In their letter dated January 30th, the lawmakers argued that marijuana’s status under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) is increasingly incompatible with state laws and public opinion, leading to significant harm to communities.

When Colbert addressed their recent letter to the DEA, he asked, “How does descheduling differ from legalization, and are you currently under the influence?” After some laughter, Warren explained that marijuana legalization would be possible with a “functional Congress,” but under the current circumstances, descheduling is a viable alternative that does not require Congressional approval.

Warren emphasized that the DEA currently classifies marijuana at the same risk level as heroin, which not only makes it illegal but also hinders research. The senator emphasized that it is no longer the 1950s, and with over half of the states having legalized marijuana, the DEA needs to update its position.

While research on marijuana is still possible under its current classification, it has often faced obstacles and criticism for impeding further studies related to marijuana.

Descheduling vs. Rescheduling Marijuana

Descheduling marijuana would effectively remove its status as a controlled substance, decriminalizing it and essentially legalizing it. Congress would still need to establish regulations, and it would likely be regulated similarly to alcohol, allowing states to create their own marijuana laws. Federal laws and regulations could also have some influence on the situation.

Rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III would maintain its status as a controlled substance without federal legalization or the establishment of state markets. However, this would eliminate barriers to research and enable state-licensed marijuana businesses to claim federal tax deductions, which is currently prohibited.

Many have expressed concerns that rescheduling marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III could open the door for Big Pharma to monopolize the market.

Warren added, “We need to deschedule, join the 21st century, and make marijuana legal. It shouldn’t be that difficult.” Her statement was met with applause, followed by Colbert’s witty remark, “I want to point out that you didn’t answer my second question.” As the segment ended, Warren shared a knowing smile with the host.


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