Back in November last year, voters in California approved a ballot issue that made marijuana legal throughout the state. Now, its lawmakers are officially calling for federal reclassification of cannabis. Currently, the federal government categorizes weed as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. A joint resolution, approved on Thursday by the California of Assembly, 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.” The resolution passed with a majority vote of 60 to 10.
Schedule I is the most restrictive category in the Controlled Substances Act. It is for drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value. Scientists have long been moaning that listing cannabis there creates, even more, research obstacles, which do not exist for researchers studying other substances, including other illicit drugs.
Weed shares Schedule I status with LSD and heroin, yet methamphetamine and cocaine have Schedule II classifications, which means they have fewer restrictions. It is easier for scientists to study some hard street drugs than it is to conduct research into marijuana and its benefits. The California resolution, which passed the state Senate previously by a 34 to 2 vote, calls for the federal law to change:
“The legal commerce of marijuana or cannabis, so that businesses dealing with marijuana or cannabis, can use traditional banks or financial institutions for their banking needs, which would result in providing a legal vehicle for those businesses to pay their taxes.” Because of prohibition at the federal level, big banks will not provide marijuana companies with financial services.
For this reason, most cannabusinesses operate exclusively in cash. This cash-only situation makes them targets for criminals and makes it difficult for the state to tax their sales. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee is now doing its duty. Earlier this month, it expressed concern that weed’s status as a Schedule I drug hinders research, and it directed federal agencies to study the issue and report on it.
In California, the law does not require gubernatorial action for joint resolutions. This one is now heading to President Trump himself, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan. California’s two U.S. Senators will also receive it, as well as the state’s 53-member U.S. House delegation. Maybe it will finally prompt the federal government to declassify weed.