New York Senator Gillibrand calls on DEA for descheduling

The U.S. senator stood with several other lawmakers and advocates when she made the statement over the weekend.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made a stand for removing cannabis from classification within the Controlled Substances Act while visiting the neighborhood of Harlem in Manhattan over the weekend.

Gillibrand, along with Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York State Senator Cordell Cleare, New York City Council Member Yusef Salaam, New York State Assemblymember Eddie Gibbs, New York State Assemblymember Rev. Al Taylor, Executive Director of Empire State NORML David Holland and more, spoke out asking the attorney general and the Drug Enforcement Administration to deschedule marijuana.

“Descheduling marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act is not just a social justice issue; it’s an economic, medical, and public safety issue,” Gillibrand said. “Since marijuana was classified as a Schedule I substance during the war on drugs, countless lives have been torn apart, and individuals in primarily Black and brown communities have been targeted for nonviolent cannabis-related offenses.”

Gillibrand referenced studies that indicate legalization of cannabis could lead to a reduction in international drug trafficking and be an overall economic boost to the U.S. economy.

The Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act places cannabis in the same category as heroin and a more dangerous category than fentanyl or cocaine — even though marijuana is not associated with the same acute health risks and potential for addiction and abuse.

The senator’s statement also noted that people of color are more likely to have criminal records for marijuana possession and to face needless barriers to employment, housing, and educational opportunities as a result.

“For too many years, this country has waged a failed War on Drugs, including the criminalization of marijuana, that has inflicted untold suffering on millions of Americans,” Nadler said. “Marijuana never should have been placed on the most restrictive schedule of the Controlled Substances Act—alongside substances such as heroin and cocaine.”

Green Market Report has previously written about the recommendation from the Health and Human Services Agency to the DEA to change the classification of cannabis. The 250-page argument for de-scheduling has created a great deal of optimism in the industry. However, the DEA has been clear that the decision is up to them and they won’t be persuaded by politicians seeking attention.

“Rescheduling cannabis as a Schedule III medicine may be the catalyst to the unintended consequence of creating a national medical monopoly that could supplant the existing cannabis industry found in New York and more than 40 other states which has produced more than half a million jobs and billions of dollars of revenue,” Empire State NORML said in a statement.

“Such an industry contraction and concentration of the ownership of the means of production to the medical industry could stifle competition and inhibit strain development and cannabinoid innovation richly found in the existing and ongoing market. Preservation of the state economies build around the cannabis industry and continued participation of the diverse pool of independent operators and entrepreneurs across the nation should be a greater priority than solely bestowing alleviation from IRS Code 280e to a chosen few.”

Debra Borchardt

Debra Borchardt is the Co-Founder, and Executive Editor of GMR. She has covered the cannabis industry for several years at Forbes, Seeking Alpha and TheStreet. Prior to becoming a financial journalist, Debra was a Vice President at Bear Stearns where she held a Series 7 and Registered Investment Advisor license. Debra has a Master's degree in Business Journalism from New York University.

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