LANSING, Mich., March 3, 2022 — State Rep. Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) introduced House Bill 5877 to remove marijuana from Michigan’s list of controlled substances, where it is currently on Schedule I.
“Michigan voters recognize that marijuana prohibition hurts our communities; that’s why they voted to legalize and regulate,” Rabhi said. “But those initiated laws only shield people from criminal prosecution. Prohibition also causes harm through scheduling when landlords, employers and government agencies apply overly broad policies about controlled substances.”
Michigan’s Public Health Code describes Schedule I substances — such as heroin — as having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug conflicts with other state laws. Voters approved medical marijuana in 2008 and adult use of marijuana in 2016, and the state regulates and taxes licensed marijuana businesses.
“It never made sense for marijuana to be classified as a Schedule I substance, and it makes even less sense now that Michigan has legalized it,” said Robin Schneider, executive director of the Michigan Cannabis Industry Association. “Not only does marijuana have legitimate medical uses, it has a lower potential for abuse than alcohol. We regulate alcohol in the public interest without putting it on a schedule of banned substances, and we should do the same for marijuana.”
Marijuana advocacy organizations supporting the legislation include the Michigan chapter of Americans for Safe Access and Michigan NORML.
“Marijuana was placed on the most restrictive drug schedule for historical reasons that have more to do with racism than pharmacology; scheduling was meant to label marijuana as a bad drug used by bad people,” said Rick Thompson, executive director of Michigan NORML. “Until we remove that stigmatizing label, we will continue to see marijuana used as an excuse to deny people housing or take their children away.”
Descheduling marijuana in Michigan would not affect its status as a federal Schedule I substance, but the federal Department of Justice typically does not devote resources to enforcing federal laws against marijuana where it has been legalized within a state. Legislation introduced this session in the U.S. House of Representatives, the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, would broadly reform federal marijuana policy and remove marijuana from the federal schedules.