Marijuana: DEA takes nine months to brush off Colorado's reschedule-pot request
High-profile media organizations have started floating the idea of rescheduling marijuana as a way of bridging the gap between federal law and Colorado's in the wake of Amendment 64's passage. As we noted Wednesday, Colorado asked DEA administrator Michele Leonhart to consider doing so this past December. Now we know the DEA's response -- no -- and the amount of time it took the agency to deliver it -- around nine months. Documents below.
Some background: Even though eighteen states and the District of Columbia have laws allowing marijuana to be used for medical purposes, the DEA considers the substance to be a Schedule I narcotic -- meaning that it offers no known or acknowledged medical benefit. Other Schedule I narcotics include heroin, whereas Schedule II lists the likes of cocaine and opium -- drugs pretty much everyone with a working brain understands to be much more dangerous than cannabis, although Leonhart refused to acknowledge it during questioning by Colorado Representative Jared Polis at a Congressional hearing this past June.
Colorado officials were required to ask the federal government to consider moving marijuana to a different schedule by the signing into law of House Bill 1284, which set up a regulatory system for medical marijuana in the state. Obeying a passage in the legislation, Director of Revenue Barbara Brohl sent a letter to Leonhart on December 22, 2011; see it below.
The DEA's reply was a long time coming. The documents shared with us by the Department of Revenue are stamped with two dates: September 6 and October 10, with the latter supplemented by the word "received." Moreover, they weren't written by Leonhart. Instead, she appears to have farmed out this duty to Joseph Rannazzisi, the deputy assistant administrator for the DEA's Office of Diversion Control. And there's something else strange about the letters, both shared in this post. Although the text is identical in each, the signatures are different.
Continue for more about the DEA's response to Colorado's letter about rescheduling marijuana, including original documents.