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. Scribe

    Marijuana America: Obama Legacy!

    February 14, 2014 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  2. Benson

    I knew cocaine was a schedule II since it does have some medical benefits, mainly in hospital settings like surgery, I believe. But, methamphetamine is also a schedule II? A drug that has proven to be so harmful, is deemed safer then plant that grows in nature. And, for all the religious people, the Bible does state God created all seed bearing plants for us to use... *Not intending to put religion in this. Just stateing it to prove a point. **

    Due to cannabis having a schedule I classification it is next to impossible for the medical community to do proper studies and trials. The anecdotal evidence shows that some of the compounds have beneficial effects yet, with its current classification no one in the United States are allowed to do the research to prove or disprove this. It's time to finally allow the medical community to find out once and for all if cannabis really is or isn't this wonder "medicine" that so many claim it to be.

    February 14, 2014 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  3. bob searcy

    its sure been sad watching foreign pot products bankrupt this nation for 30 years but i have the consolation of being just one individual educating our legislators for the whole 30 + years. bout 10 years ago my fo0cus turned to money. i said i know you saps understand money. id like industrial hemp and rec pot and fuel crushed from the hempseeds. im an old man. i lick toads now so potheads pick up your armor cause its no longer my fight. im cursed with being able to see into the future and that future must have rec drugs constructed by pharma. pharma coud put failsafes in them that would cause vomiting if taken in too high a dose. instead kids are snorting crushed lithium batteries and destroying themselves. im seeing signs that our government is growing ( maturing ) . usedtabe were going to burn 10 million dollars worth of pot today. ten mill was ironically the kind of money our towns were in need of.

    February 14, 2014 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  4. dajowi

    So Obama defers any action stating he'd rather see congress act. By leaving it to congress he's assured that it's status will not change due to congress' failure to act.

    He tells us, hes' got a phone, a pen and can just by-pass congress. Why not just write an executive order changing Marijuana's status on the drug schedule?

    February 14, 2014 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  5. JPTuck

    Today it will be marijuana – tomorrow it will be heroin, meth or some other drug. There is already enough scientific evidence that it is addictive, stays in the brain for years after use and affects one's ability to reason and properly operate machinery many hours after use. So we now want all these folks out driving and/or operating our planes/trains/buses etc after they have had their 'fix'? Probably the most dangerous thing that could happen next to allowing every citizen to openly carry a gun.

    February 14, 2014 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  6. R

    ""What is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress,"
    No, that's a job for pharmacists and doctors.

    February 14, 2014 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  7. aldo

    I thought the headline said,"Congress push Obama to SUCK a joint of marijuana."

    February 14, 2014 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
  8. Robert B MARCIONE

    I welcome the Un Classification. The Medical Funding and Help the Poor Receive here in the Eastern part of WA State is Pathetic to say the very lest. Medical Cannabis saved me when modern medicines could not.

    February 14, 2014 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  9. Steve

    Dope is for dopes. That's why it's called dope.

    February 14, 2014 03:42 am at 3:42 am |
  10. Aaron

    Mr. President:

    Your legacy could be that of great beneficial change to America if you took action to legalize Marijuana. It is now evident that this move is supported now by both parties. What's the political risk? The ball is in your court. Make a move that we will all be greatful to and do what is right in this day and age.

    Thank you!

    February 14, 2014 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  11. Big Red

    Out of everything he's used an executive order for, he needs to fix this! I so wish both my parents had been able to avail themselves of medical marijuana instead of the drugs they were forced to take while they had cancer. Both parents lost an indescribable amount of weight because they couldn't eat. My dad was allergic to morphine which was all they could give him so they pumped him with Benadryl on the side. He hallucinated and saw people talking to him from the tv. He screamed with nightmares as did my mother. Both of my parents were in so much pain even on the drugs it was indescribable. I firmly believe that not only would marijuana have helped them with their eating and their pain, but there have been many reports of marijuana healing or holding cancer at bay. We NEED this NOW!!!!

    February 14, 2014 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  12. T. Kozubal

    Dear "Bill from GA,"
    There seems to be much confusion about the duties and responsibilities of the various members of government. It is the duty and responsibility of Congress, the DOJ, and the various other departments to change all the laws regarding the use of marijuana, not the President. Maybe that's what is wrong with the voters in the southern states. They lack the formal education concerning these matters taught in Civics classes. Talk to your state, county/parish, and local leadership about re-instating that subject in your various school systems. Then, you could make an educated rant that made sense.

    February 14, 2014 04:49 am at 4:49 am |
  13. Andrew from KC

    Unfortunately, the president says that classification on Class I drugs is for Congress to decide. So it should get done sometime in the year 2300...

    February 14, 2014 05:18 am at 5:18 am |
  14. bluesblast

    OK, show some guts! President Obama, you CAN direct Eric Holder to look at existing research which already proves that marijuana does not belong on the schedule 1 list. Just ask Dr Gupta for christ sake.

    Remember Marijuana users vote! And there are TEN OF MILLIONS of us. Talk about a great way to get votes, this is it. Stop putting people in jail for a drug you say is less harmful than alcohol NOW!

    February 14, 2014 06:00 am at 6:00 am |
  15. Michael MN

    Bill the President does not make law / he signs or veto's what congress sends him

    February 14, 2014 06:07 am at 6:07 am |
  16. John

    Ol' Yeller,
    BOTH parties is the correct answer to your questions. Oh, one talks a lot about doing something else, but where's the action? Where? I'll tell you. There is no action because they have found that they can keep their rich, campaign contributors happy while getting all the votes they need by promising things they never do, and they don't get called for it.

    February 14, 2014 06:21 am at 6:21 am |
  17. Chris Asking Question

    Why hasn't President Obama already legalized it and other "illegal" drugs? Shouldn't we have the right to chose what we put in our bodies and how it will affect us?

    February 14, 2014 06:36 am at 6:36 am |
  18. Ardnt22

    Finally! It's not like there aren't enough hollywood libs dropping like flies because of drug abuse! The tragedy...wait hey everyone let's go to a legalize pot rally!
    Because it just shows how intelligent we are to put MORE substances in our body. And smoking is GOOD for you NOW!
    This just shows how morally and mentally stupid the left has become. But get after it! Those of us with better things to do with our lives and bodies will be sure to fill those jobs you are too dumb for. You know...the well paying ones.

    February 14, 2014 06:39 am at 6:39 am |
  19. achepotle

    good, crack down on guns and the xtian religious radicals and the country will be moving in the right direction.

    February 14, 2014 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  20. Karen

    Uh let's not mince words "up until a large chunk of my adult life" how about a little more accurate truth "right up until I took up office in the White House". Sounds like he quit? If so, are we supposed to know that now?

    February 14, 2014 06:53 am at 6:53 am |
  21. Trombonebiker

    How could marijuana be classified worse than meth and coke? That just shows the ignorance of the time when that was done. It is time to make that change and decriminalize it. After all, the government would make a huge amount of money of the sales, just like they do off of alcohol.

    February 14, 2014 07:00 am at 7:00 am |
  22. lloyd roberts

    Right, republicans believe they are true conservatives, limited and less intrusive government. You wouldn't think that if you smoke pot instead of drinking alcohol. 17 dems and one republican want freedom for a portion of Americans. Yeah, republicans are conservatives. Make my day

    February 14, 2014 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  23. McDoud

    Pretty sure the Mandatory Minimum Sentences (MMS) decreed by Reagan are still in place. That should be first on their list.

    February 14, 2014 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  24. TomInRochNY

    Thank goodness there is at least some movement on this, finally.

    February 14, 2014 07:47 am at 7:47 am |
  25. Yoshi

    It's time America. The tyranny has to end. Obama's presidency has been mixed and arguably not due to his own actions but those of his enemies, however, he has an opportunity to make this small yet giant change to this country for the betterment of all people.

    February 14, 2014 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
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