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Two key Republican senators sponsoring cannabis banking reform are now pushing new legislation to thwart the Biden administration’s historic marijuana rescheduling efforts.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming and Sen. Steve Daines of Montana on Thursday introduced the Deferring Executive Authority (DEA) Act.
Both are supporters of the SAFER Banking Act, which is scheduled for a crucial committee hearing next week.
If signed into law, the DEA Act would require any proposed change to federal drug law to first get approval from Congress.
Such changes currently can be made by the executive branch via the attorney general.
That would threaten the recent recommendation from President Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to downgrade marijuana from a Schedule 1 to a Schedule 3 controlled substance.
Last October, Biden ordered health officials to “expeditiously” review the latest science and data on cannabis.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is currently weighing the recommendation as well as how to incorporate the federal government’s first admission that marijuana has medicinal value into federal law.
Experts have told MJBizDaily that the federal drug agency is all but certain to sign off on the HHS recommendation, a prediction recently echoed by the Congressional Research Service.
Rescheduling would have profound consequences for the marijuana industry, which no longer would be subject to the punitive Section 280E of the federal tax code.
However, Lummis and Daines said that such power is reserved for Congress, where marijuana policy reform has been blocked for years.
“Congress makes the laws in this country, not D.C. bureaucrats,” Lummis said in a statement.
She added that U.S. citizens should “have the final say on such a momentous change as the legalization of marijuana” through Congress.
“The Biden administration’s rush to reschedule marijuana without compelling scientific evidence appears to be political, not about what’s best for the American people,” she added.
More than two-thirds of Americans support marijuana legalization, a 2021 Gallup poll found.
In 2020, more than 57% of Montana voters approved an adult-use legalization measure in Daines’ home state.
Daines said in a statement that he “disagreed with marijuana being legalized in Montana, (but) the people spoke at the ballot box, and I respect that decision.
“However, I am firmly opposed to legalization or descheduling at the federal level without Congressional input.”
Chris Roberts can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.