Merkley Statement on DEA’s Decision Not to Reschedule Marijuana

Portland, OR. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after the announcement from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that the U.S. will affirm its prohibition on medical marijuana.

“Today’s announcement from the DEA is a huge disappointment to people in the 27 jurisdictions across the country that have legalized medicinal marijuana and in the growing number of states that are legalizing recreational marijuana use.  It is counterproductive that as millions of voters and legislatures across the country are taking steps to allow and regulate the use of marijuana, the federal government is doubling down on its archaic prohibition and continuing to perpetuate an untenable status quo.   

“There are huge hurdles that legal marijuana businesses in states like Oregon are facing with the DEA’s reluctance to change. Currently, marijuana businesses operating under state laws that have legalized medicinal or recreational use have had a hard time accessing the banking system because banks and credit unions that provide them services can be sanctioned or shut down under federal law. Without the ability to access bank accounts, accept credit cards, or write checks, businesses must operate using dangerously large amounts of cash. In Oregon alone, it is estimated that the marijuana market could bring in close to half a billion dollars in revenue, all in cash, during its first 14 months of legal sales. The federal government shouldn’t force Oregon’s legal marijuana businesses to carry gym bags full of cash to pay their taxes, employees and bills.

“Expanding access to marijuana for research is helpful, but doesn’t solve these problems.  It’s clear now that Congress must take action to end the confusing patchwork of state and federal laws and regulations so that businesses in states that have legalized medicinal and recreational marijuana can access banking services, additional federal research can be conducted, and Veterans Affairs doctors can finally discuss medicinal marijuana with patients.”