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Law Enforcement Leaders Urge Biden to Reschedule Cannabis

The group said it could help law enforcement better prioritize public safety resources.

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A group of current and former police chiefs, sheriffs, federal and state prosecutors, and correctional officials from across the country sent a letter to President Joe Biden, urging his administration to reclassify cannabis from a schedule I to a schedule III substance under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

The CSA places various substances in five schedules. Cannabis currently sits in Schedule I alongside heroin and LSD. Schedule I substances are defined as drugs with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The Department of Health and Human Services has recommended moving cannabis to Schedule III with other substances considered to have moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence along with currently accepted uses for medical treatment.

The Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration said reclassification would serve as an important step to help both federal and state law enforcement better prioritize limited public safety resources. The group said it would help "combat the harms that arise from unregulated cannabis markets" and potentially boost reinvestment in legal markets, which could in turn bolster public safety.

The group also warned that as more states' legal markets come online, the growing disparities between state and federal regulation will make it more difficult for law enforcement to respond to public safety issues.

"This conflict between federal and state laws has also allowed an unregulated cannabis market to gain footing across the United States. The unregulated market is one that cultivates, manufactures, distributes, and sells cannabis without a government-issued license, permit, or approval. It effectively operates in the dark, outside of state-imposed guardrails and oversight. Alarmingly, we have seen cases in states like California and Oklahoma where sophisticated yet unlicensed operations are tied to organized criminal enterprises," wrote Ronal Serpas, Executive Director of Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration. "This unregulated commerce thus poses a serious risk to public safety in communities around the country, through such connections to organized crime and the absence of oversight."

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