Congressman Raul Grijalva, a southern Arizona Democrat, has joined 17 other congressmen in asking that President Obama to help reclassify marijuana in the federal drug "scheduling."
Marijuana is a Schedule I substance at the federal level, which the Justice Department describes as the "most dangerous" drugs that have "no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse," alongside LSD and heroin.
The Schedule I drugs generally are associated with higher penalties. For example, trafficking between 50 and 99 kilograms of pot calls for a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. A first-time offender caught with any amount of a Schedule III drug -- which includes certain prescription painkillers, ketamine, and anabolic steroids, among other things -- is supposed to serve a maximum of 10 years.
Although Obama himself can't just reorganize the drug scheduling himself, the 18 lawmakers -- mostly Democrats -- have asked Obama to instruct Attorney General Eric Holder to use his authority to reclassify marijuana.