Republican Senators Say Cannabis Rescheduling Violates International Treaties

Three Republican senators are calling on the DEA to reject a Biden administration proposal to reschedule marijuana under federal drug laws.

Senator Mitt Romney of Utah and two of his Republican colleagues have sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration, urging the law enforcement agency to decline a bid to reschedule marijuana under federal drug laws. Cannabis is currently listed under Schedule I of the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a designation reserved for drugs with no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse.

The letter, which was signed by Romney and Republican Senator Jim Risch of Idaho and Nebraska’s Senator Pete Ricketts, was addressed to Drug Enforcement Administrator Anne Milgram. All three lawmakers are members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In the letter, the senators expressed concerns over a Biden administration proposal to reclassify cannabis under the CSA. 

In August 2023, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommended that the DEA reclassify marijuana by moving it from Schedule I of the CSA to Schedule III, a classification intended for “drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence” such as Tylenol with codeine or ketamine. The trio of Republican senators urged the DEA administer to carefully consider the HHS proposal.

“Any effort to reschedule marijuana must be based on proven facts and scientific evidence — not the favored policy of a particular administration — and account for our treaty obligations,” the senators wrote in their letter.

The senators noted in their letter that cannabis is controlled by international treaty, “which is not surprising given its known dangers and health risks — and the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) has fiercely criticized efforts to legalize marijuana in other countries as a violation of the treaty.”

International policy on marijuana is governed by the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, an international treaty adopted in 1961 and ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1967. Under the treaty, the United States is required to implement certain controls over drugs covered by the international agreement, including marijuana. The CSA implements those treaty obligations in U.S. domestic law and requires the U.S. Attorney General to place marijuana in the schedule that he or she deems most appropriate to carry out the country’s obligations under the Single Convention.

“In prior rescheduling proceedings, the DEA has determined that section 811(d) requires it to classify marijuana as a schedule I or II drug in order to comply with our treaty obligations under the Single Convention,” the letter continued, referring to the relevant section of the international treaty.

“It is important that the DEA continues to follow the law and abide by our treaty commitments,” the senators wrote. 

The senators also requested more information including whether rescheduling marijuana would affect whether other countries comply with drug treaty provisions “including for deadly narcotics like fentanyl,” asking the agency to respond to a list of questions by April 12.

The letter also cites a recent study that showed that daily marijuana use was associated with a 25% increase in the risk of a heart attack and a 42% increase in the risk of stroke. They also noted that other research has linked cannabis use “with serious psychotic consequences, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.”

On Wednesday morning, Romney took to social media to share the letter he and his Republican colleagues sent to Biden administration officials at the DEA.

“To be blunt: rescheduling marijuana may cause the U.S. to violate obligations under the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs,” Romney wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. “Efforts to reschedule marijuana must be based on evidence, not politics, and @DEAhq must ensure we abide by our treaty commitments.”

Despite the senators’ fears, Jason Adelstone, a senior associate attorney with national cannabis law firm Vicente LLP, said that international treaties do not preclude the federal government from reclassifying cannabis under Schedule III of the CSA.

“The erroneous and unsubstantiated fears about marijuana are based on fictional ‘war on drugs’ themes and not the current state of medical and scientific knowledge about marijuana,” he wrote in an email to High Times. “The letter contained several incorrect statements, including the mistaken assumption that moving marijuana to Schedule III would somehow violate the Single Convention.”

“However, the Single Convention specifically endorses ensuring medical and scientific access to controlled substances,” Adelstone continued. “Moving marijuana to Schedule III would better promote medical and scientific access to marijuana.”

The DEA is currently reviewing the HHS proposal to reschedule marijuana, but the agency has not announced a timeline for the decision.

  1. These senators are failing to realize that cannabis was removed from Schedule IV under this treaty by the Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2020 because they recognized the therapeutic and medicinal potential of cannabis. But hey, what does truth matter, right?!? The truth is what they say it is…

  2. It’s rich that the religion loving Romney now wants “science and medicine” to prove that weed is bad.

  3. in return, we all need to call for these senators to resign
    impeach them.
    but no, everyone knows stoners arent willing to actually go out and fight back.

  4. WTF?

    What a joke, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was drafted/created by the USA and effectively forced upon most of the rest of the world with the threat of trade sanctions etc.
    The United Nations literally doesn’t care anymore, because it’s just recently removed cannabis from its ‘dangerous’ category (which only existed thanks to the USA) and
    What country is going to criticise the USA for reclassifying cannabis, let alone threaten the USA with sanctions?

  5. Don’t Have an opinion, instead use your enemy’s Data points against them . . . some of us have been emailing politicians since we came back from DATA land. Know your Audience, not your opinion. Sample Letter sent:

    During the War on Terror, between 2010 and 2011, tax-money bailed out HSBC and Wachovia banks were never given any incentive to quit laundering drug money to Al Qaeda and the Mexican Cartels. Other banks like Deutsche and JP Morgan would use this error as precedents. Fed Prosecutors and Fed Judges gave the bankers no jail time and only a small fine of $550 Million in fines. A violation of U.N. Narcotics Laws—laws that enable our enemy to keep us at war for 20 Year fighting a personality/Persona that is the equivalent to Drug Dealing Child Molesting Cavemen.

    Authorize a law that gives active duty military/Nat Guard/Reserves the right to fire upon anybody in a Federal Position, like the DEA, or elected officials up in Washington who still enforce the 1961 United Nations Singles Laws on Narcotics—to attack anybody who hasn’t arrested Fed Judges and Fed Prosecutors, and the bankers by the year 2014 for telling bankers they would never ever receive any punishment so harsh as to quit laundering drug money to America’s enemies and our allies enemies and the Cartels who threaten National Security and our drug dealing enemies who threaten Israel.

    60% of our enemy is funded by drug money. Asia, Europe, Africa, and Australia buy 90% of the drugs that fund Radical Islam, whereas America’s source generally comes from Latin America who have made so much money selling drugs and dismantling their nations that they can make lots of extra money smuggling out the very people they terrorized (like paying your rapist to make you a new dress after they ripped it from your body) . . . but 99% of Cocaine which can be bought by Radical Islam/Mafia/Iran/Putin/N. Korea/etc comes from Latin America.

    In 2007 America Denationalized Iraq’s oil, making China the largest buyer of Iraqi oil so they could make it into petrol based plastics/clothing sold back to America at the cost of our jobs and economy. In 2010, America’s “Made in China” tech increasingly began to use minerals obtained from Afghanistan (gold, silver, copper, silica, lithium etc) since they are neighbors with China and must compete with India for ‘Global Manufacturing Dominance (Think Amazon.Com 2023 in regards to giving over $35 Billion to India).

    The War on Drugs finances our enemy to the point they can keep America at War for 20 Years—harm Israel as well, and encourage our enemy to send its hordes across our borders and our allies’ borders in Europe in the name of ‘refugee’: Deuteronomy 28: 43-53.

    It’s Okay for a police officer to be brave enough to arrest a one-legged Marine for marijuana but they are not brave enough to arrest Federal Judges and Federal Prosecutors during a time of WAR for laundering Drug Money to Al Qaeda, Putin, Iran, N. Korea, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Taliban, Cartels, gangs, etc. This is Treason. Does Federal law Trump Federal Law? Does a foreign Contract have to keep America’s hands tied when it comes to protecting Israel, our Borders, our troops, our jobs/economy, the Iraqi/Afghani under American care, and New York City Skylines from drug money funded attacks involving airplanes (or U-Hauls parked in parking Garages in 1993 NYC)?

  6. Mitt Romney is hilarious. I remember an infamous interview he did where he was adamant that Jesus came to Missouri, a basic tenet of the Mormon faith. The interviewer did a double take and Romney refused to elaborate, then canceled the interview. This guy was set to be POTUS! And in thinking about the whole P. Diddy debacle, when you get rich enough you can live in a bubble where facts about the world don’t matter.

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