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November 30, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Gregoire asking feds to change marijuana law

Gov. Chris Gregoire followed up on an earlier pledge by announcing today that she was asking the federal government to reschedule marijuana to a drug that can be prescribed and sold in pharmacies.

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who joined Gregoire on a conference call today, said he will also back the petition to the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to make marijuana a Schedule II drug, which allows for use with “severe restrictions,” putting it in line with such drugs as cocaine, PCP and methadone.

Currently, the Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana is Schedule I, with no accepted medical value.  The DEA rejected such an idea as recently as July, turning down a petition first filed in 2002 by a coalition of advocacy groups.

In the response, signed by DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, the DEA says it cannot reschedule marijuana because a “material conflict of opinion among experts precludes a finding that marijuana has been accepted by qualified experts, even under conditions where its use is severely restricted.”

Gregoire, in a statement, citied the continuing popularity of the state’s 1998 medical marijuana law as cause to seek rescheduling.

“An ever-growing number of doctors now tell thousands of suffering patients they may find relief from the unique medicinal qualities of cannabis. There is simply no question that pharmacists could safely and reliably dispense cannabis to patients — just as they do for other controlled and more problematic drugs.”

Both Gregoire, a Democrat, and Chafee, Republican-turned-Independent, this year blocked proposals to license and regulate medical marijuana dispensaries, saying they could put state employees at criminal or civil risk of violating federal law. Both governors caught political heat because other states, including Colorado, have regulated dispensaries with no risk to employees.

 

Comments | More in General news, Government | Topics: Chris Gregoire, DEA, Drug Enforcement Administration

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