Over a dozen members of Congress are calling on President Barack Obama to reschedule marijuana, with one congressman describing the drug's current classification as "arbitrary and incorrect."
On Wednesday, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and 17 of his colleagues sent a letter to the president asking him to reconsider the way marijuana is categorized by the Drug Enforcement Administration. Currently, the DEA lists cannabis as a Schedule I substance, which the agency defines as the "most dangerous" category of drugs with "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." Other Schedule I drugs include heroin, ecstasy and LSD. Meanwhile, substances such as methamphetamine and cocaine fall under Schedule II and are therefore considered by the DEA to have "less abuse potential."
In the letter, which Blumenauer began circulating to colleagues late last month, the lawmakers said placing marijuana at the same level as heroin "makes no sense."
"You said that you don't believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous 'in terms of its impact on the individual consumer,'” the letter reads, referencing Obama's recent interview with the New Yorker. "This is true. Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I ... This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs. This makes no sense."
The lawmakers called on Obama to instruct Attorney General Eric Holder to either delist or "at the very least" take marijuana out of the Schedule I or II classifications.
"We believe the current system wastes resources and destroys lives, in turn damaging families and communities," the letter concludes. "Taking action on this issue is long overdue."
Along with Blumenauer, the letter is signed by Reps. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Mike Honda (D-Calif.), Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Alan Lowenthal (D-Calif.), Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Jim Moran (D-Va.), Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), Jared Polis (D-Colo.), Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.)
Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, Obama's administration has the authority to "remove any drug or other substance from the schedules if [it] finds that the drug or other substance does not meet the requirements for inclusion in any schedule."
"The Administration needs recognize the relative dangers of these drugs if it wants to restore its credibility," Blumenauer wrote in a Wednesday statement. "The first step is to reschedule marijuana, which the Administration can do unilaterally. We can't let this arbitrary and incorrect bureaucratic classification ruin any more lives."