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Schumer Says DEA Marijuana Rescheduling Decision Is ‘Historic,’ But He Remains ‘Strongly Committed’ To Passing Banking And Legalization Bills



Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says that while the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) reported decision to propose marijuana rescheduling is a “historic step forward,” he remains “strongly committed” to advancing cannabis banking and legalization legislation this session.

As DEA prepares to formally initiate rulemaking to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), Schumer said in a statement on Tuesday that this isn’t the end of marijuana policy reform this Congress.

“It is great news that DEA is finally recognizing that restrictive and draconian cannabis laws need to change to catch up to what science and the majority of Americans have said loud and clear,” the majority leader said.

“While this rescheduling announcement is a historic step forward, I remain strongly committed to continuing to work on legislation like the SAFER Banking Act as well as the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act [CAOA], which federally deschedules cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act,” he said.

“Congress must do everything we can to end the federal prohibition on cannabis and address longstanding harms caused by the War on Drugs.”

The SAFER Banking Act that Schumer referenced already moved through the Senate Banking Committee last September. The legalization bill, meanwhile, is expected to be reintroduced imminently, after Schumer and other prime sponsors solicited support from colleagues, with a deadline to sign on passing last week.

How news of DEA’s rescheduling decision affects the prospects of advancing other cannabis legislation is yet to be seen. The SAFER Banking Act already enjoys bipartisan support, though sources have said Republican leadership—principally Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)—has posed an obstacles to pushing it forward as part of an unrelated aviation bill alongside cryptocurrency regulations legislation.

As advocates have been quick to remind observers, a Schedule III reclassification would not federally legalize marijuana. It would, however, remove research barriers and allow state-licensed cannabis businesses to take federal tax deductions, among other modest effects.

The SAFER Banking Act, meanwhile, is another key objective for stakeholders this session that would provide protections for financial institutions that work with state-legal marijuana firms.

Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) said during an interview with The Dales Report on Tuesday that DEA’s possible reclassification of cannabis is something she’s “going to be looking at” in terms of how it affects the SAFER Banking Act, as well as her own separate legalization bill.

“How does this affect things moving forward? What’s the next goalpost?” she said.

Schumer’s mention of CAOA comes before the bill has been officially reintroduced this session, though he previously said he planned to file it this month, which ends on Tuesday. Regardless of the potential reclassification of marijuana under the CSA, that measure’s prospects remain dubious, as it’s unlikely to generate enough bipartisan support to clear the Senate’s steep 60-vote threshold or be taken up in the GOP-controlled House under the leadership of anti-cannabis Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA).

In any case, the cannabis activists have largely responded positively to the DEA news.

After all, this marks the first time that DEA has recognized the medical value and relatively low abuse potential of cannabis since prohibition was codified more than 50 years ago. The scheduling review, directed by President Joe Biden, could mean that a historic shift in federal marijuana policy is imminent.

Lawmakers, Advocates And Stakeholders React To DEA’s Historic Marijuana Rescheduling Decision, With Many Calling For Bolder Reform

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