Congressman Steve Cohen

Representing the 9th District of Tennessee

Cohen Calls on Attorney General to Reschedule Marijuana

February 20, 2015
Press Release

[MEMPHIS, TN] – In response Attorney General Eric Holder’s comments this week regarding marijuana at the National Press Club, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) called on Attorney General Eric Holder to use existing authority to reschedule marijuana.

“Marijuana is currently a Schedule I drug.  This is a category for drugs with no medical benefit.  Not even cocaine or methamphetamine are Schedule I,” said Congressman Cohen.  “Patients have used marijuana to treat epileptic seizures, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Parkinson’s disease, and nausea associated with cancer treatment.  The federal government should be doing more to keep abreast of the science that has demonstrated that marijuana has medicinal value as well as not interfering with states that have recognized that fact.”

During an event at the National Press Club on Tuesday, Attorney General Holder said that there is “a legitimate debate to be had on both sides of that question on where marijuana should be in terms of scheduling.” [Feb. 17, 2015 National Journal]

In a letter sent to the Attorney General, Congressman Cohen wrote, in part, “[A]s you know, you already have the statutory authority to reclassify marijuana…Not even cocaine or methamphetamine are Schedule I substances....I urge you to in your remaining time in office to take action, under existing federal law to reclassify marijuana.”

As a Schedule I drug, marijuana has the same classification as heroin, LSD and MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

Congressman Cohen’s letter also describes how marijuana has been used to treat cancer patients and children with epileptic seizures.

Cannabidiol (CBD), a compound of marijuana which has medicinal effects but does not contain significant THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.  CBD has been used to treat seizures.

One of Congressman Cohen’s constituents, 3-year-old Chloe Grauer, suffered from a rare neurological disease that caused her to have 100 to 200 seizures daily.  Her family tried dozens of options to treat her disease including medications and surgery, but nothing stopped the seizures.  Her family tried to treat her with CBD.  Because of Cannabidiol’s Schedule I classification, Tennessee was unable to quickly make CBD available for Chloe.  Sadly, Chloe passed away late last year.

Congressman Cohen has advocated for bipartisan legislation, Charlotte’s Web Medical Hemp Act, which would remove CBD from the federal definition of marijuana. If enacted, the bill would have allowed Chloe access to CBD which might have alleviated her symptoms. 

A PDF of the letter is available here.