The Controlled Substance Act explicitly gives the executive branch the responsibility to change the schedule of any drug without needing to go through Congress. President Obama is either ignorant about his duties or straight up lied to Jack Tapper when directly asked about this. From the CNN interview:
[TAPPER] Or are you considering not making marijuana a Schedule One narcotic?
OBAMA: Well, first of all, what is and isn’t a Schedule One narcotic is a job for Congress. It’s not…
TAPPER: I think it’s the DEA that decides…
OBAMA: It’s – it’s not – it’s not something by ourselves that we start changing. No, there are laws under – undergirding those determinations…
TAPPER: Would you support that move?
OBAMA: But the broader point, I stand by my belief, based, I think, on the scientific evidence, that marijuana, for casual users, individual users, is subject to abuse, just like alcohol is and should be treated as a public health problem and challenge.
This statement from Obama could not be more wrong. In fact the law requires the Attorney General to make the change without Congress based on new research. As a result this DEA is frequently scheduling new drugs or moving drugs to higher or lower schedules.
The Obama administration actually just spent several years fighting a lawsuit to force them to reschedule marijuana. There’s also a petition from several sitting governors asking the Obama administration to reschedule marijuana via executive action still waiting to be dealt with.
I’m not inclined to give Obama the benefit of the doubt because this is not the first time Obama has directly lied about his ability to reschedule marijuana and been called out for it. Even his own AG Eric Holder publicly admitted Obama was not being truthful when he previously made similar statements.