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Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser last week led a coalition of other states urging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule cannabis “in the interest of public health and safety,” Weiser said in a statement.
In a letter addressed to DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, the group of 12 state attorneys general urged the DEA to permanently reclassify cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III following the latest recommendations from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
The group of Democratic attorneys general said state-regulated marijuana markets are safer for consumers than illicit markets and praised the states that have effectively implemented their own regulations. The letter said 38 states legalized medical use and 24 states as well as Washington D.C. legalized recreational use for adults 21 and up.
“As state attorneys general, we have a responsibility to protect consumers and defend public safety,” the letter says. “The undersigned are also particularly concerned about the illicit market, unregulated intoxicating hemp-derived cannabinoids, and the continuing proliferation of dangerous opioids. State-sanctioned cannabis markets provide access to regulated products that are clearly safer to what individuals can buy on the street — and supporting the effective operation of these regulated markets thus fits with our commitment to addressing the opioid crisis and rising overdose deaths.”
Colorado became one of the first states to approve recreational marijuana use for adults when voters approved Amendment 64 in November 2012. Medical marijuana has been legal in Colorado since voters approved Amendment 20 in November 2000.
Because marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug federally, businesses are subject to some punitive tax provisions and have difficulty with normal business practices when working with banks.
The letter said rescheduling would allow state cannabis industries “to continue to set the standard for legal products” and reduce sales of unregulated intoxicating hemp products. Regulated markets have also been profitable for state economies, with billions of dollars coming to state and federal governments, according to the letter, and federal rescheduling would remove tax-related obstacles for legitimate cannabis businesses.
“Regardless of the policy choices made, demand for these products will continue. Meeting this demand only in a regulated, legal marketplace better protects consumers,” the letter says. “Rescheduling also increases the ability to research cannabis to determine the physical and mental impacts of cannabis use. To date, this research has largely not been possible because of cannabis existing placement in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act.”
Editor’s note: This story first appeared on Colorado Newsline, which is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Colorado Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Quentin Young for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Colorado Newsline on Facebook and Twitter.