Even though Attorney General Eric Holder has both the power and duty to reschedule any drug based on the latest science, he continues to to claim rescheduling marijuana should be left to Congress. From an interview on The Marshall Project:
[Holder:] I think the question of how these drugs get scheduled and how they are ultimately treated is something for Congress to work on. I think we’ve pushed. We have done an awful lot. You look at what’s going on now in COLORADO AND WASHINGTON5 and the way we’ve dealt with those initiatives, identifying the EIGHT PRIORITY AREAS6 that we thought still would warrant federal involvement, and yet if you look at where we are now with those states and with what other states are doing, and the way we view the whole issue of the use of medical marijuana, we’re in a fundamentally different place than we were when Barack Obama became president and I became attorney general.
So I think we’ve made significant progress in looking at that drug in a more realistic way. But I think our society has to ask itself the question of how ultimately we are going to view the use of marijuana.
It is disappointing that Holder’s only justification for not using his power to reschedule marijuana is not based on facts or data, but purely some vague concern about political sensitivity and perception of overreach. It is also pathetic given how silly and misguided these political considerations seem to be.
Holder moving marijuana to a lower schedule would be perfectly in line with public research, precedent, current law and political norms. Our system traditionally doesn’t treat the rescheduling of drugs as a job for Congress. The vast majority of drug rescheduling is done by the executive branch and marijuana should be no different. For example when the administration made the big decision to move hydrocodone combinations from schedule III to II, they didn’t go to Congress but instead did it on their own.
There is also no reason to believe rescheduling marijuana would upset the general public or Congress. The American public overwhelmingly wants the government to acknowledge medical marijuana and earlier this year a majority of the members of the House of Representatives voted in favor of two big provisions meant to help state approved medical marijuana programs
It is just mind boggling that while the Obama administration is looking at ways to stretch their legal authority to use executive actions to get around Congress on issues, like the environment and immigration, they would still refuse to move forward on the one issue where they are so explicitly given the power to act under current law.