NEW YORK (PIX11) — New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to deschedule marijuana, removing its classification as a dangerous or illegal drug and treating it more like alcohol or tobacco.
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, in the same category as heroin and more dangerous than fentanyl and cocaine, both classified as a Schedule II.
Gotham Buds owner Melika Bellamy is a strong advocate for scheduling.
“I am in full and complete support of descheduling, completely, marijuana,” said Bellamy at a Sunday afternoon press conference.
Descheduling marijuana is seen as a step toward achieving social justice.
“This allows us to avenge the communities of people who look like me, who look like my sisters and brothers…and community members who have been disenfranchised,” said Bellamy.
In September, the Department of Health and Human Services recommended that the DEA reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III drug, on the same level as Tylenol. That would acknowledge the plant’s medical benefits but still make it illegal on the federal level.
Gillibrand said that is not enough.
“It doesn’t do the decriminalization, it doesn’t expunge records,” said Gillibrand. “It doesn’t right the wrongs of the past, and that’s why descheduling is so important.”
Representative Jerry Nadler agreed.
“No one should have to wear a cannabis conviction like a scarlet letter,” said Nadler. “True justice can only be achieved by scheduling marijuana entirely.”
But Gillibrand acknowledges there will be hurdles to make it a reality.
“There’s stigma still. And there is also a general challenge,” Gillibrand said.
The decision to deschedule or reschedule will ultimately be the decision of the DEA.