California Urges Congress To Reclassify Cannabis

The rescheduling of the drug would enable medical marijuana research and make it possible for marijuana businesses to use traditional banking.

a hand holding a marijuana leaf

The California State Legislature has approved a joint resolutionasking the federal government to remove cannabis from its most dangerous drugs category.

The resolution passed in the California Assembly 60-10 last Thursday (September 14). It previously passed in the California Senate by a vote of 34-2 in April.

The federal government’s five drugs categories—established under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act signed by then-President Richard Nixon—range from Schedule I (most dangerous) to Schedule V.

Cannabis currently resides in Schedule I, alongside heroin, peyote, and LSD. These drugs are defined as having no medical benefit and a high potential for abuse. Opioids like oxycodone and fentanyl are in the lesser Schedule II category.

Marijuana’s Schedule I status inevitably clashes with state governments that have decided amongst themselves to legalize cannabis for medical and/or recreational use.

The California State Legislature’s joint resolution reads: “The Legislature urges the Congress of the United States to pass a law to reschedule marijuana or cannabis and its derivatives from a Schedule I drug to an alternative schedule, therefore allowing the legal research and development of marijuana or cannabis for medical use.”

This part of the resolution addresses the barriers to marijuana research that come with marijuana’s Schedule I status. This month, GOP Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah introduced a bill to “improve the process for conducting scientific research on marijuana as a safe and effective medical treatment”—bringing attention back to the less than ideal state of pot research in the U.S.

“It’s high time to address research into medical marijuana,” said the octogenarian senator in a pun-filled press release. “Our country has experimented with a variety of state solutions without properly delving into the weeds on the effectiveness, safety, dosing, administration, and quality of medical marijuana.”

By introducing the MEDS Act (Marijuana Effective Drug Study Act) Hatch and the bill’s co-sponsors hope to “remove the administrative barriers preventing legitimate research into medical marijuana.”

Previous efforts to re-schedule cannabis have so far failed.

Israel, on the other hand, is currently leading in cannabis research.

“In the United States they use recreational marijuana for medical use—that’s like making chicken soup when you have a cold,” Yuval Landschaft, who heads the medical cannabis arm of Israel’s health ministry, told Reuters earlier this year. “We’re the ones making the antibiotics.”

By Victoria Kim