OLYMPIA — Governors from Washington and Rhode Island asked the federal government Wednesday to reclassify marijuana so it can be used for medical use.
Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee petitioned the Drug Enforcement Administration to take off Schedule I, which is reserved for drugs like heroin and peyote that have no medicinal use and thus are illegal under all circumstances.
It should be moved to Schedule 2, which is for drugs like morphine and codeine, which are illegal under many circumstances but can be prescribed by a doctor and filled by a pharmacist for certain conditions.
“It’s time to show compassion and it’s time to show common sense,” Gregoire said. “There’s no evidence to suggest any medical marijuana patient has died from an overdose.”
She’s a Democrat and Chafee a former Republican who became and independent in 2007. They called it a “bipartisan, bicoastal” effort, adding they expect governors from other states that also have medical marijuana laws on their books, to join.
The petition was filed Wednesday, and will be turned over to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. They’ve requested public hearings.
The request is prompted in part by recent federal crackdowns in Washington and other states against a growing number of medical marijuana “dispensaries”, where patients with physician approval for marijuana for diagnosed medical problems have purchased their supplies.
“Our intent is to ask for an expedited petition,” Gregoire said after acknowledging the last request to reclassify marijuana took about nine years, and was ultimately rejected by the Obama administration. Since that time there have been new studies on the value of marijuana to treat some medical conditions, and its legalization for medical use has been supported by the American Medical Association.
The result of the clash between federal drug laws and individual state initiatives – some like Washington’s passed by voters – has been “chaos,” the governors said.
Under the governors’ proposal, certified medical marijuana patients would get their supply from a pharmacy. Asked if that would put the current dispensaries out of business, Gregoire replied: “If dispensaries want to become pharmacies, great. If not, patients would go to pharmacies.”
The request seems unlikely to stop federal raids of businesses that sell medical marijuana. “I can't ask them to stand down from law enforcement,” Gregoire said of the U.S. Department of Justice crack down.