To: Cannabis Stakeholders
From: Congressional Cannabis Caucus Founder and Co-Chair (and 50+ year advocate for ending the failed war on drugs) Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
RE: Schedule III and the Path Forward
Date: May 7, 2024

The Path Forward: Schedule III and Beyond

On April 30, the Department of Justice (DOJ) confirmed that they proposed marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule III substance. Marijuana was classified as a Schedule I substance more than 50 years ago for naked political advantage during Richard Nixon’s failed war on drugs. This classification was justification to destroy the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Black men and decimated communities of color across the country.

Schedule III is not quite what we wanted – marijuana shouldn’t be scheduled at all — but it is nonetheless a revolutionary step that sends a signal about the imperative of ending the failed war on drugs.

Cannabis reform is a winning issue. There are now 38 states with medical cannabis programs and 24 states with legal adult-use marijuana. More than half of the U.S. population now lives in jurisdictions with legal adult-use marijuana. Seven in 10 Americans think marijuana use should be legal, an increase reflecting historic support for an end to the draconian federal prohibition of cannabis.

It is clear the Biden-Harris Administration is listening to the unprecedented public demand for cannabis reform. President Biden has been much more engaged on the issue. He pardoned thousands of individuals, initiated this long-overdue review of scheduling, and opened a new chapter for reform. The Administration must move through the regulatory process as quickly as possible to reschedule cannabis. Meanwhile, federal agencies have numerous additional administrative opportunities to initiate further cannabis reforms.

Each year, I release a memorandum outlining the path forward to end the failed war on drugs and federal prohibition of cannabis. With the DOJ’s announcement, this updated memo reflects my optimism for the path ahead and details the work that remains.

Read the full Memorandum