A GOP congressman has refiled a bill to move marijuana from Schedule I to the less restrictive Schedule III under federal law.
The two-page bill states that “the Attorney General of the United States shall, by order not later than 60 days after the date of enactment of this section, transfer marijuana…from schedule I of such Act to schedule III of such Act.”
Advocates are strongly pushing for removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) altogether, but the congressman has argued that rescheduling could be an interim move to promote research into the plant and its components.
“As marijuana is legalized for medical and recreational use across the United States, it is important that we study the effects of the substance and the potential impacts it can have on various populations,” he said in 2019. “By rescheduling marijuana from a schedule I controlled substance to a schedule III controlled substance, the opportunities for research and study are drastically expanded.”
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President Joe Biden has voiced support for both rescheduling and marijuana research. He also signed a marijuana research bill into law last month, making history by enacting the first piece of standalone federal cannabis reform legislation in U.S. history.
Biden issued a mass marijuana pardon late last year, and he also directed an administrative review into cannabis scheduling under the CSA. Agencies are in the process of carrying out a scientific review into marijuana to determine if it’s appropriately scheduled.
While moving marijuana to Schedule III under Steube’s new bill would not end federal prohibition, it would still have a number of effects.
It would, for example, protect federal employees who use marijuana from a Reagan-era executive order that defines illegal drugs as Schedule I or II substances.
And only drugs under Schedules I and II are affected by the tax provision known as “280E” that blocks cannabis companies from deducting businesses expenses from their taxes.
Reclassification would also make scientific research easier, since cannabis’s current Schedule I status creates additional hurdles for studies.
Moving cannabis out of Schedule I would additionally end threats from the U.S. Postal Service that publishers have faced over the mailing of newspapers containing marijuana advertisements, since the federal statute the agency has cited to justify its actions applies only to Schedule I substances.
But modest rescheduling alone would not remove federal criminal penalties. Advocates have also expressed concerns that any move other than a complete removal from the CSA could create additional regulatory roadblocks for cannabis businesses that are operating in compliance with state laws.
“The Republican majority in the 118th Congress is working to make our government accountable to the people,” Steube said in a press release in which he announced the cannabis bill and several other unrelated proposals to ban research using dogs, block professional sports organizations from claiming nonprofit status and tax breaks and stripping Disney of certain copyright protections, among others.
Meanwhile, Steube also filed separate legislation for the current session that meant to protect military veterans from losing government benefits for using medical marijuana in compliance with state law.
It would further codify that U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctors are allowed to discuss the potential risks and benefits of marijuana with their patients.
Rep. Alex Mooney (R-WV) and two other GOP cosponsors filed the first piece of cannabis legislation for the 118th Congress. It’s designed to allow medical cannabis patients to purchase and possess firearms.
Read the text of Steube’s marijuana rescheduling bill below: