What Obama Can Do to Loosen Marijuana Laws, Even Without Congress (NY Mag)

By KATIE ZAVADSKI | July 30, 2014

Legalizing Marijuana-BanksPhoto: Brennan Linsley/AP/Corbis

Legalizing Marijuana-BanksPhoto: Brennan Linsley/AP/Corbis

Ever since the New York Times came out of the cannabis closet Sundayand endorsed legalized marijuana for those of legal drinking age, DI has been wondering what real drug-policy changes we can expect on the federal front. Though Colorado’s Representative Jared Polis introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013 in the 113th Congress, the legislation didn’t go anywhere and we’re really not holding our breath.

So we got to thinking — is there a way to bypass all that? Can the stroke of an admitted stoner’s pen change drug policy for potsterity?

It turns out, the answer is yes — simply by changing how pot is classified.

Cannabis is currently a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act, placing it among the most tightly controlled substances in the country. (Schedule 2 drugs have medical uses but are highly easy to abuse, while Schedule 3 ones are even less addictive and only “lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.”) But determining what drugs fall into which category doesn’t only fall to Congress: federal agencies also have a say.

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