Congressmen Ask Obama To Declassify Pot As Schedule I Drug

By McCarton Ackerman 02/14/14

Spearheaded by Oregon congressman Earl Blumenauer, the letter marks the latest effort by a growing number of politicians to make more sensible marijuana laws.

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A bipartisan letter signed by 18 congressmen, 17 Democrats and one Republican is asking President Obama to drop marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Its current classification puts it on the same level as heroin and LSD, which makes it impossible for doctors to prescribe it.

The letter was composed by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and said that urgent action was required on this issue since Obama had recently told the New Yorker that marijuana isn’t any more dangerous than alcohol when it comes to “impact on the individual consumer.”

“You said that you don’t believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance...Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification. This makes no sense,” read the letter. “Classifying marijuana as Schedule I at the federal level perpetuates an unjust and irrational system. We believe the current system wastes resources and destroys lives, in turn damaging families and communities. Taking action on this issue is long overdue.”

The letter also requested that marijuana be pushed further down than a Schedule II classification. Schedule I drugs are viewed by the federal government as having “no currently accepted medical use in the United States,” while Schedule II are classified as having “a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Blumenauer has become a pot advocate as of late; he has pushed for tax reform to treat legal marijuana businesses like any other businesses and wants federal legislation to clarify the rights of states to legalize medical marijuana.

Last week, Blumenauer slammed the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy after he refused to say whether pot was more dangerous than meth. Deputy director Michael Botticelli acknowledged that “there’s relative toxicity related to those drugs,” but declined to say which was more harmful because he felt “the conversation minimizes the harm.”

Blumenauer literally threw his hands up in frustration and ranted over what he felt was a vague response. “Being unable to answer something clearly and definitively when there is unquestioned evidence to the contrary, is why young people don’t believe the propaganda, why they think it’s benign,” he said. “If a professional like you can’t answer clearly that meth is more dangerous than marijuana — which every kid on the street knows, which every parent knows — if you can’t answer that, maybe that’s why we’re failing to educate people about the dangers. How do you expect high school kids to take you seriously?”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.