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U.S. Senator Calls For Federal Cannabis Legalization

Sen. Jacky Rosen: ‘Congress has failed to keep up with the times'

U.S. Senator Calls For Federal Cannabis Legalization

In a move that signals a growing momentum toward overhauling the United States' cannabis laws, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) has taken a bold stance, advocating for the legalization of marijuana at the federal level.

In a statement posted on the social media platform X, Rosen highlighted the steps taken by a majority of states towards decriminalizing or fully legalizing cannabis, pointing to Nevada's successful regulation of the substance since 2017 as a testament to the economic and entrepreneurial benefits of such measures.

“Did you know that more than three quarters of states across the country have decriminalized or fully legalized the use of cannabis? In Nevada, we’ve been successfully regulating marijuana since 2017, and our economy and small businesses have seen the benefits,” Rosen wrote.

“Unfortunately, Congress has failed to keep up with the times. As your senator, I'm committed to passing common sense legislation to support legal cannabis use nationwide and allow Nevada's cannabis industry to thrive,” she asserted.

Rosen has consistently championed significant reforms in federal cannabis legislation. In late 2022, she introduced the Fair Access for Cannabis Small Business Act, a legislative effort aimed at dismantling the barriers preventing cannabis small businesses from accessing loans and programs available through the Small Business Administration (SBA).

This bill stands as a critical juncture in marijuana legislation, challenging the status quo and advocating for equal federal support and resources for legal marijuana businesses, akin to those provided to other legal entities.

Rosen is also supportive of initiatives to prompt the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to reconsider the classification of marijuana, proposing its reclassification from a Schedule I to a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

This proposition gained further legitimacy following a recommendation by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in August, suggesting a reevaluation of cannabis' scheduling status.

The current classification of Schedule I substances imposes the most stringent restrictions, citing a lack of accepted medical use, a perspective increasingly at odds with state-level decriminalization and legalization efforts. Despite these state measures, the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause gives federal law precedence over conflicting state laws.

In January, signaling a collective push for change, a dozen senators reached out to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and DEA Administrator Anne Milgram, submitting a letter advocating for the "swift" rescheduling of marijuana based on the HHS's recommendations. The letter highlighted the DEA's historical precedence of not maintaining a drug in Schedule I following such recommendations.

Support for this rescheduling endeavor has also come from drug policy advocates, emphasizing the need for decriminalization and the rectification of harms caused by decades of racially discriminatory enforcement.

“Most states have decriminalized marijuana to some extent, but people across the country are still being arrested, jailed, deported, or otherwise punished for marijuana law violations,” Maritza Perez Medina, Director of the Office of Federal Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement.

“The DEA must deschedule marijuana to decriminalize it, meaning it must be completely removed from the CSA. Additionally, President Biden must direct federal agencies to restore rights to individuals who have experienced marijuana criminalization and repair the harms that decades of racially-discriminatory enforcement has caused,” she added.

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