Democratic senators hit Biden for an ‘extraordinarily disappointing’ stance on marijuana

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A group of six progressive Democratic U.S. senators criticized the Biden administration’s “extraordinarily disappointing” response Wednesday to their request last year to remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a category reserved for drugs that have no accepted medical use.

The Justice Department took six months to give senators a half-page response that simply said the Department of Health and Human Services does not recognize marijuana as a safe treatment for any disease or condition, a decision that senators took issue with.

“It is obvious that cannabis has widely accepted medical benefits, confirmed by medical and scientific communities both here and across the globe,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Cory Booker, DN.J., Kirsten Gillibran, DN.Y., Wrote Ed Markey, D-Mass., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., And Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the letter to the President.

“The therapeutic properties of cannabis caused by the effects of both tetrahydrocannabinol-alpha (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) components make it an excellent alternative to highly addictive opiates for pain relief.”

Marijuana is weighed and packaged for sale at the Northwest Patient Resource Center medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle.

Marijuana is weighed and packaged for sale at the Northwest Patient Resource Center medical marijuana dispensary in Seattle.
(Associated Press)

Biden promised to decriminalize marijuana and automatically remove previous drug-related convictions while on the campaign trail in 2020, but his administration’s inaction on marijuana policy has frustrated the progressive flank of the Democratic Party.

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The House voted 220-204 to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level in April, with three Republicans voting yes and two Democrats voting no, but legislation has stalled in the Senate.

The six progressive senators wrote in Wednesday’s letter that the president should take executive action to also issue pardons to anyone convicted of a nonviolent marijuana-related offense.

In this file image, a jar containing a strain of marijuana with the nickname "Murder D" is seen at a medical marijuana facility in Unity, Maine.

This file image shows a jar containing a strain of marijuana nicknamed “Killer D” at a medical marijuana facility in Unity, Maine.
(AP Photo / Robert F. Bukaty)

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“The administration’s failure to coordinate a timely review of its cannabis policy harms thousands of Americans, slows down research, and deprives Americans of their ability to use marijuana for medical or other purposes,” the senators wrote.

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