Over 800 marijuana industry leaders have signed onto a letter that urges the U.S. Congress to deschedule marijuana.

Led by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the letter delivered to House and Senate leadership this week argues that the recent spate of vaping-related lung injuries and deaths demonstrates the need for robust federal regulations. These regulations aren’t available because marijuana remains a federally controlled substance.

“Make no mistake, the legal state-regulated cannabis industry knows that any death is one death too many,” the letter reads. “Fortunately, we have policy tools that can be employed to help limit the illicit market, implement uniform good manufacturing practices and prevent future harms.”

Co-signers include representatives from Berkeley Patients Group, Leafly, Weedmaps, 4Front Ventures, SPARC, Foria and Vicente Sederberg LLP.

Aaron Smith, NCIA’s executive director, spoke to the Marijuana Moment and said “it is absolutely vital for members of Congress to understand that this vaping illness outbreak is directly tied to failed prohibition policies that support the unregulated underground market.”

“There is a reason there are no illness outbreaks related to tainted alcohol in this country: the substance is regulated at the federal and state levels, and licensed producers have almost entirely replaced bootleggers,” he added. “Descheduling cannabis products and regulating them effectively is essential to improving on successful state regulatory systems, allowing more comprehensive research, and displacing the illicit market.”

“Descheduling is the only way to truly reform federal cannabis policy in a sensible manner so that state regulatory programs can most successfully ensure consumer safety and to pave the way for appropriate federal regulations,” the letter also reads.

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