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Polis urges federal government to reclassify marijuana

In a letter to President Joe Biden, Governor Jared Polis and other governors said reclassifying marijuana will help cannabis-related businesses. Opponents say the drug is still dangerous.
Posted at 7:36 PM, Dec 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-06 22:42:16-05

DENVER — While marijuana has been legal in Colorado for more than a decade, the drug is still illegal at the federal level.

That is not likely to change anytime soon, but the federal government is considering reclassifying the drug, which could have big implications in several areas, including cannabis-related businesses in Colorado.

As manager of a family-owned cannabis business on South Broadway in Denver, Clif Gordon knows Colorado’s marijuana rules better than most people.

"If I leave the door propped open, I'm in violation of a law. If I don't check everybody's I.D., I'm in violation of the law,” Gordon told Denver7, shortly after checking our crew's identifications before allowing them into the business.

Gordon said he even has to check his mother’s I.D. when she visits the business.

He said running a cannabis business isn’t easy, especially since the federal government still considers marijuana illegal.

“As a business, we can't write off staffing. We can't write off store fixtures. We can't write off anything that you see in the store that isn't a product,” said Gordon.

That could change if the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reclassifies marijuana.

The DEA is considering changing how marijuana is classified under the Controlled Substances Act following a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Last year, President Joe Biden directed his administration to review current federal marijuana laws.

“Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana,” Biden said. “It’s time that we right these wrongs.”


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Colo. cannabis industry sees positives, drawbacks to marijuana reclassification

Jessica Porter
10:54 PM, Aug 31, 2023

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. According to the DEA, Schedule I drugs "have no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse."

The HHS recommended that marijuana be classified as a Schedule III drug, which "have a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II and abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence." They currently include ketamine and some anabolic steroids.

In a letter to Biden, Colorado Governor Jared Polis and five other Democratic governors said reclassifying marijuana would ease restrictions and allow cannabis-related businesses to take advantage of federal tax breaks.

“Economically, rescheduling to Schedule III will alleviate restrictions of Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code, allowing cannabis-related businesses to take ordinary business deductions— just like every other American business,” the governors wrote. “There is, and will continue to be, a significant consumer demand for cannabis. That fact will not change regardless of the public policy choices that we make.”

Gordon said he supports reclassifying marijuana at the federal level.

“It’ll allow us to operate like a regular business,” he said.

US health agency recommends marijuana for rescheduling

Scripps News

US health agency recommends marijuana for rescheduling

AP via Scripps News , Maura Sirianni
5:28 PM, Aug 31, 2023

But not everyone thinks that’s a good idea.

“Right now, they're looking like big tobacco all over again,” said Luke Niforatos, executive vice president for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), a nonpartisan nonprofit focused on marijuana policy. “I just think it's really important to understand that we are learning more and more about this industry every day.”

Niforatos said SAM supported the president's pardoning marijuana offenses but opposes any attempt to reclassify the drug.

“We don't think anyone should have a criminal record for having a joint in their pocket,” said Niforatos. “I think [reclassification is] political because they have not shared any of the rationale for why they're recommending it should be Schedule III."

Niforatos said despite marijuana becoming legal in more states, it still poses a great risk to public health.

“We're seeing more kids using and then driving on the roads, more impairment on our roads. This is not the time to open up the doors to the industry,” said Niforatos. “I think we're learning a lot of those hard lessons right now.”

The DEA has not said when it will make a decision, but the governors are asking them to do so by the end of the year.

If marijuana is reclassified as a Schedule III drug, it would still not be legalized at the federal level. Schedule III drugs are still considered controlled substances subject to federal criminal prosecution.

Polis urges federal government to reclassify marijuana

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