Marijuana is at the center of rescheduling debates within the DEA, and if it goes well then cannabis may be rescheduled. This news comes from a memo to lawmakers from the DEA which announced their intentions and said a decision will be made “in the first half of 2016.” This response came after a letter from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and other lawmakers who have called for the rescheduling of marijuana. The FDA has already studied the evidence around marijuana and given the DEA their recommendation for the rescheduling decision, but it hasn’t been released. All we have is the 25 page DEA memo which states, “DEA understands the widespread interest in the prompt resolution to these petitions and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016.”
Obviously this is a huge moment for marijuana in America, and there is a lot of speculation and anticipation revolving around the whole issue. Although it seems like a good sign that they’re answering the petition, it’s not the first time we’ve danced this dance. In 2001 and 2009, the DEA responded to petitions like this one, and then declined to reschedule. The one hopeful aspect of this situation is that this is the first-time they’re considered rescheduling since the advent of legalized states in 2012. Since then, the DEA has also taken lower priority to marijuana than in past years, thanks in part to state efforts to keep the DEA out of legal operations. Also, marijuana now presents a lower risk in terms of supporting cartel interests because they aren’t smuggling as much cannabis anymore.
With these factors taken into consideration, it’s safe to say that 2016 has a much different marijuana climate than 2009; a peak smuggling year that saw the most marijuana seized in over 20 years, 1.48 million pounds. In fact the years 2008-2010 saw much more marijuana seized than any other year before going back to 1987 which saw a number close to that, 1.38 million pounds. Since legalization, less marijuana has been getting seized which is a good argument for rescheduling, since less of that money is going to the black market. However, there’s no telling if these reasons are even going to play into the DEA’s decision making process. Either way, the stakes are as ready as ever now for the progress of marijuana in America, and with even more states voting on legalization this November, the climate is right if the DEA decides to reschedule.