Unpacking the DEA Act: Congress Grapples with Federal Marijuana Legalization

The DEA Act, if passed, would mandate congressional review for transferring marijuana between CSA schedules, emphasizing Congress's authority, but faces criticism for potentially opposing widespread public opinion.

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Lawmakers introduced the DEA Act in an attempt to stop descheduling of cannabis

In a recent attempt to restrict marijuana legalization, lawmakers introduced the DEA Act, which mandates that Congress must approve any changes to federal drug laws. The bill aims to transfer decision-making power from Washington Bureaucrats to elected representatives within Congress.

Senator Cynthia Lummis and Senator Steve Daines firmly oppose the federal legalization or descheduling of marijuana without input from Congress. 

Lummis believes that “Congress makes the laws in this country, not D.C. bureaucrats,” emphasizing the need for greater congressional involvement in crucial decisions like marijuana legalization.

Concerns Surrounding the Biden Administration’s Rescheduling Attempts

Lummis and Daines have both expressed their disapproval of the Biden administration’s attempts to reschedule marijuana without presenting strong scientific evidence supporting their argument. They argue that this move seems politically driven rather than rooted in what is best for the American people.

Despite public opinion demonstrating a growing bipartisan support for the legalization of cannabis, the senators maintain their stance opposing the move. This raises questions about whether they are genuinely concerned with representing their constituents’ views or simply looking out for their political interests.

If passed, the DEA Act would require an administrative proposal to transfer marijuana between schedules on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) to undergo congressional review. Although the bill does not address full descheduling, it highlights that Congress should hold ultimate authority over transferring marijuana between schedules.

As a result, while proponents believe such oversight serves to uphold the importance of congressional lawmaking in the face of potentially hasty decisions, critics argue that this stance contradicts the majority public opinion on the matter.

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Opposition Within the Republican Party

Fourteen GOP House and Senate colleagues recently sent a letter to the DEA urging them to reject the recommendation to move cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III. Lummis cited a Congressional Research Service report in which the DEA is expected to follow the HHS’s recommendation – a move that would effectively legalize marijuana federally if it were rescheduled to Schedule III. However, even with such changes implemented, marijuana would still remain federally illegal for any purpose other than medical use under prescription by a doctor.

The Future of Federal Cannabis Policy

This latest development comes at a time when federal cannabis policy is receiving significant attention. A revised version of Senator Daines’s bill regarding banking services for state-legal marijuana businesses has been filed and scheduled for markup next week within the Senate Banking Committee.

As the push for federal legalization or descheduling of marijuana continues to gain momentum in the United States, the DEA Act poses a potential roadblock in those efforts. Both senators have expressed their respect for the voters’ decision on marijuana legalization within their respective states but maintain staunch opposition toward federal recognition without congressional approval. 

Thus, the trajectory of federal drug laws and marijuana legalization hangs in the balance as Congress seeks to uphold its authority amidst growing public support for reform.

Rita Ferreira

Rita Ferreira

Rita is a seasoned writer with over five years of experience, having worked with globally renowned platforms, including Forbes and Miister CBD. Her deep knowledge of hemp-related businesses and passion for delivering accurate and concise information distinguish her in the industry. Rita's contributions empower individuals and companies to navigate the complexities of the cannabis world, and her work remains a valuable resource for those seeking a deeper understanding of its potential.

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