Lawmakers push Obama to reclassify marijuana
February 13th, 2014
04:57 PM ET
8 years ago

Lawmakers push Obama to reclassify marijuana

(CNN) – A group of lawmakers are pushing President Barack Obama to remove marijuana from its classification as a dangerous narcotic.

The federal government places pot in the same category as heroin and ecstasy as a schedule 1 controlled substance – a drug with high potential for abuse but no accepted medical use.

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In a letter, signed on Wednesday by 17 Democrats and one Republican, to the President, lawmakers cite Obama's recent comments that he sees smoking marijuana as no more dangerous than drinking alcohol.

"As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol," Obama recently told The New Yorker.

The lawmakers said marijuana's current classification "makes no sense," pointing to wasted law enforcement resources under "harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws."

"You said that you don't believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous 'in terms of impact on the individual consumer.' This is true," the letter says.

"Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification, along with heroin and LSD. This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs."

Voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, opted last November through ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana use. Another 18, along with the District of Columbia, allow some legal pot use, primarily for medicinal purposes.

The federal government said it would not challenge state laws legalizing marijuana. The President told The New Yorker it was important for those states' laws to move forward, calling them "experiments," but the White House has said the President remains opposed to a nationwide decriminalization of marijuana.

Attorney General Eric Holder can remove marijuana from its classification after an independent scientific review. But Holder has said that his preference was for Congress to act, underscoring that federal enforcement effort would focus on preventing marijuana use in minors.

"What is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress," Obama said in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper.

Holder also said recently that local business selling marijuana should have access to the American banking system, and that Justice Department is working with the Treasury to come up with rules providing an avenue for banks to handle legal revenue.

Filed under: Congress • Marijuana • President Obama
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. charles clark

    just legalize it for recreational use already! ""the president flat out said no worst the alcohol plane and simple."" look at sugar how many people are addicted to sugar and trans fat. food company's buy and sell the FDA that fake sugar spenda gives rats tumors. think im lying buy a rate and feed it sugar or even splenda and watch the tumors grow.

    February 13, 2014 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  2. Silence DoGood

    @Ol' Yeller
    "In a letter, signed on Wednesday by 17 Democrats and one Republican..."

    Let's all talk about which party actually knows what the word Freedom is and how it should be reflected in our laws.
    Quick Quiz:

    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to restrict the rights of ordinary working Americans to vote?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to tell a woman what she can/can't do with her own body?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to have ordinary Americans be required to present 'their papers' to the 'authorities' to 'prove' they have a right to walk down the friggin' street?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to require the insertion of an object into a person's body who has not been charged with or even accused of any crime?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to imprison people indefinitely who have not been charged with a crime, have not had a trial, and are not being allowed due process?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws which are in direct violation of the Geneva Convention?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to allow a dangerous intoxicant to be sold publicly, but causes a less dangerous intoxicant to be sold on the black market and possession thereof to result in prison sentences (especially for brown and black American citizens)?

    I get so sick of the republicant's putting themselves out as the Party of 'Freedom' when they have no idea what that word even means.
    Good call – the GOP and especially the Tea Party is for Big Government when it comes to control and (im)moral authority. The American Taliban. The Theocracy Control movement is scary.

    February 14, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  3. guest

    It just seems unlawful, that the justice department can determine prison sentencing based on marijuana beingin Sschedule 1....they are determining prison time based on a falsehood. This is a crime and needs to be justified to the American people if it will not be changed.

    February 14, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  4. Bill Davis

    Obama would allow almost anything for a vote,

    What us get going to sell short when his time is up,

    February 14, 2014 12:00 am at 12:00 am |
  5. Anonymous

    When will all of You realize we are stuck on this floating rock together? Political divide? Racial divide? Economic divide? Etc etc.. Stupid humans hating and killing eachother, this is why no one else visits earth and sticks around.

    February 14, 2014 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  6. YoonYoungJo

    Wow I didn't realize marijuana was listed as more dangerous then cocaine or amphetamines. Now that is a little looney. Weed more dangerous then cocaine or meth.... These are the little things congress can fix immediately. Not saying congress has to legalize it now but at least classify it properly.

    February 14, 2014 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  7. gpvj

    Great thing for America...

    February 14, 2014 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  8. Solitairedog

    Finally, somebody is talking some sense at the Federal level.

    February 14, 2014 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  9. Not Too Hard To Understand

    Weed as a Schedule I drug. Does it get must stupider than that?

    February 14, 2014 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  10. karenascofield

    The reason pot prohibition and its Schedule I status haven't ended yet is financial. The U.S. has the highest per capita rate of incarceration in the world and pot arrests have **a lot** to do with that. Many billions of dollars are involved with that on the legal side of things. Congress has long been all about the money. So...

    So the fallacy that pot is a Schedule I drug is guarded. That is a national shame too.

    February 14, 2014 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  11. karenascofield

    Dealers don't card minors.

    February 14, 2014 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  12. Sharky

    I'm definitely gonna vote for him again.

    February 14, 2014 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  13. mentalRay

    Now remember young adults- If you've smoked marijuana before- Heroin and Cocaine are just as safe. All are Schedule I

    February 14, 2014 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  14. Yoda

    I was caught with pot as a kid back in the late '70s back when cops could use their discretion as to whether or not to arrest someone for possession. The officer told me that there's nothing wrong with smoking weed, until you get busted. And he was right.

    Getting busted and convicted of possession will ensure that you will never have the same chance that Clnton, Bush, or Obama had to become president of the United States, or obtain any job which looks at your conviction for possession of marijuana as a reason to disqualify you from a job.

    That is how lives are ruined. Not by a substance which is literally less lethal than aspirin, or Tylenol.

    Marijuana is a gateway drug. A gateway to an illicit underworld where VERY harmful drugs are made available. Legalize it and get it out of the hands of the real criminals, and most importantly, stop making criminals out of otherwise decent, Americans.

    February 14, 2014 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  15. Skagnelly

    Hey,'s a gold mine! Legalize it...treat it like's what you would call a win – win. And it's probably the only thing that has a chance of pulling us out of this ongoing six-year recession.

    February 14, 2014 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  16. Sandvichmancer

    Washington (state) voter here.
    The one thing Republicans can do to ensure a state with a mixed red and blue demographic and a large winnable moderate group to be full on Democrat for a generation is to push the criminalization issue.

    When it passed, it passed with the acceptance that individual areas can vote to ban it in their neck of the woods (as it should be nationally, oh great "states rights" party). That shuttered all arguments against it, as people in Ferndale don't tend to get riled up over what Spokane does and people in Seattle live and let live with the people of Sultan.

    I for one give less than zero...let's say "fracks" about what anyone in Texas (or Colorado for that matter) thinks of the issue. If individuals from other states want a say, I encourage them to move here for a few years and become a resident of the state. THEN they'll have a right to have any say in the decisions of Washingtonians.

    February 14, 2014 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  17. Lars

    Most Americans want nothing to do with marijuana, the fact only 17 dems and 1 republican are the only ones that pushed for rescheduling marijuana is a fair representation and number of Americans that want it rescheduled, a very small minority! The global movement is against drug legalization, and being the US just signed an agreement with the UN to combat legalization globally I find it both ironic and hypocritical that the federal gov allowed CO and WA to go ahead with legal rec. Legal rec will not spread, it will not be rescheduled and in the end marijuana may last medically but rec will not survive. I find it sickening that we would legitimize marijuana in anyway, but our society is so perverted and broken I'm not surprised some wish to push it on us. More people in CO voted for revenues than the right to get high, about 45% of the 65% that voted yes have nothing to do with pot and only want to take advantage of revenue created by taxes they will not have to pay. Most states will push de-criminal if the feds don't stop it, most states will never have legal rec. It's no wonder we are last among industrialized nations in education. Legal rec is not freedom, it is a trap.

    February 14, 2014 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  18. Vegas Smitty

    I used to smoke pot, but then I grew up, seems some people never do.

    February 14, 2014 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  19. Danlien

    I don't see why the President hasn't just flat out legalized it yet. The will of the people is in it's favor. I personally think he is using it as an ace to put up his sleeve. If the Dems do well in the midterms, I think Obama will pull the trigger. It's all about the midterms.

    February 14, 2014 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  20. historyspeaks10

    it'll never happen in congress.

    February 14, 2014 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  21. yahmez

    Marijuana is most dangerous because of law enforcement. The drug is less dangerous than the police tactics against it.

    February 14, 2014 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  22. organically

    This is an about freedom, something conservatives stress on several other issues. Marijuana reduces pain and symptoms associated with a myriad of conditions and diseases. Three out of four physicians in the USA support the legalization of marijuana for medical use. Sixty percent of Americans believe that marijuana laws should be similar to alcohol laws – must be 21 to possess, license to sell, cannot drive, tax, etc.

    February 14, 2014 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  23. RD

    I am confused. The Obama administration just spent 115 million on anti-tabacco and anti-smoking adds. Obama is okay with pot being a bad habit? hmmm

    February 14, 2014 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  24. organically

    This is about freedom, something conservatives stress on several other issues. Marijuana reduces pain and symptoms associated with a myriad of conditions and diseases. Three out of four physicians in the USA support the legalization of marijuana for medical use. Sixty percent of Americans believe that marijuana laws should be similar to alcohol laws – must be 21 to possess, license to sell, cannot drive, tax, etc.

    February 14, 2014 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  25. Izzy

    it is time to stop treating pot smokers like drug addicts! I know many alcoholics and they are addicts and ruin their lives. why is a pot amoker a criminal and a drunk is. good American citizen?

    February 14, 2014 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
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