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DEA Administrator ‘Did Not Sign Off’ On Marijuana Rescheduling Order, Prohibitionist Group Says



The leader of a marijuana prohibitionist organization that accurately predicted last week’s cannabis rescheduling recommendation now says that sources inside the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) are telling him that Anne Milgram, the agency’s administrator, “did not sign off” on the landmark decision.

“I can now say with full confidence that the Administrator of DEA, Anne Milgram, did NOT sign the rescheduling order,” Kevin Sabet, president of the advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), posted on social media Monday, citing “two confidential sources inside DEA and another outside DEA with intimate knowledge.”

He said in a further statement, relayed on The Drug Report, a news site published by the Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions—which was co-founded by Sabet—that “it’s hard to overstate how deeply political and flawed this makes the rescheduling process look.”

“DEA Administrator Anne Milgram should be commended for standing up for science and truth, over the profit-driven pot industry,” said Sabet, who served under three presidents as an Office of National Drug Control Policy advisor. “Her courage will show she was on the right side of history. It’s equally hard to overstate what a botched process the Biden Administration’s rescheduling review has been from the outset. This unprecedented action by the Attorney General reflects a process poisoned by political considerations and conducted with a pre-determined outcome.”

SAM recently sent out a fundraising email following the rescheduling announcement, saying explicitly that the group is looking into taking legal action in an effort to halt the federal reform.

If true, the significance of Sabet’s claim that Milgram didn’t sign off on the rescheduling decision isn’t immediately clear. Asked one reply on social media: “Do you have confirmation this was done in protest or just that Anne Milgram wasn’t the one to sign it?”

If Milgram did not in fact sign the reform document, it’s also not clear who did. It could be the case that a lower-ranking DEA official is the signatory. Alternatively, it could be signed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, perhaps signaling how high of a priority for the administration the marijuana move is.

In a statement to Marijuana Moment last week, Department of Justice (DOJ) Director of Public Affairs Xochitl Hinojosa said that “the Attorney General circulated a proposal to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III.”

“Once published by the Federal Register,” Hinojosa added, “it will initiate a formal rulemaking process as prescribed by Congress in the Controlled Substances Act.”

The next step in the rescheduling process would be for the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to review the rule. If approved, it would go to public comment before potentially being finalized.

DEA did not provide comment regarding Sabet’s assertions in response to a request from Marijuana Moment.

Milgram is scheduled to appear at a congressional budget hearing on Tuesday morning to discuss the agency’s funding request for fiscal year 2025.

The Drug Report post anticipates that she’ll “likely be met with questions from lawmakers about the DEA’s decision to reschedule marijuana and her agency’s process for coming to that conclusion.”

Later this year, another DEA representative, William Heuett, is set to present on the agency’s “processing of schedule I research applications” at a federal research meeting on the potential for marijuana to treat pain. It’s not clear how that presentation might be updated in light of the ongoing rescheduling process.

Meanwhile in the wake of the DEA rescheduling announcement, a former head of the agency said the proposal is “understandable” because it “reflects the reality” of public opinion toward the medical value of cannabis.

In an interview with Fox News last week week, former DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson said it “absolutely looks like” the agency will follow through with moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

“Whenever we see over a dozen states now have medical marijuana, clearly there’s a movement for reclassification,” he said. “And so it’s not a surprise to me.”

“I think it reflects the reality of today’s both culture but also the public sentiment. That’s most significant,” said Hutchinson, a Republican who also served as governor of Arkansas.

Separately, the top Democrat in the U.S. House said last week that the Biden administration’s move to reschedule marijuana is a “step in the right direction,” but it should be followed up with congressional action such as passing the legalization bill Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) filed.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, a Republican senator said that marijuana is a “gateway drug,” and Democrats’ moves to legalize it reflect “pro-criminal, anti-American policies” that will “stimulate more crime on American streets.” He also argued that cannabis banking legislation “facilitates an entire infrastructure and an ecosystem for more drug usage in America.”

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.


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