Governors File Petition To Ease Rules On Medical Marijuana
December 1, 2011

Governors File Petition To Ease Rules On Medical Marijuana

Washington state and Rhode Island governors filed a petition with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Wednesday that would allow doctors to legally prescribe marijuana for medical treatment.

Democrat Christine Gregoire of Washington and independent Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island asked the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a schedule 2 drug from schedule 1, which would make it legal for doctors to prescribe.

"Poll after poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans now see medical marijuana as legitimate," Gregoire of Washington said in the petition.

"Sixty percent of voters in our state said yes on a 1998 ballot measure. An ever-growing number of doctors now tell thousands of suffering patients they may find relief from the unique medicinal qualities of cannabis," she said in a statement.

Both Washington and Rhode Island are two of 16 states that have allowed the sale of medical cannabis, even though the drug is still illegal under federal law.

"Each of these jurisdictions is struggling with managing safe access to medical cannabis for patients with serious medical conditions," the 99-page petition and report reads. "Our work with the federal agencies has not resolved the matter."

The petition requires the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a new scientific review and analysis of recent advances in cannabis research since the last time the FDA reviewed it in 2006.

The DEA said it received the petition and would review it.  It also said that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) previously reviewed a similar petition and rejected it.

The DEA said in a statement that HSS "determined that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the U.S. and lacks accepted safety protocols for use under medical supervision."

Washington voters approved medical marijuana in 1998, giving doctors the right to recommend marijuana for people suffering from cancer and other conditions that cause "intractable pain."

DEA officials raided 10 storefront dispensaries in Washington state in November, including several in Seattle.  Search warrant affidavits suggested the shops were fronts for illicit drug dealing and revealed that agents were looking for evidence of drug conspiracies, money laundering and guns.

There is currently an initiative in Washington state to decriminalize and tax recreational marijuana sales for adults.

Initiative 502 has been endorsed by two former Seattle U.S. attorneys and the former head of the FBI in Washington state.  It would create a system of state-licensed growers, processors and stores, and would impose a 25 percent excise tax at each stage.

Under initiative 502, adults 21 and over would be able to buy up to an ounce of dried marijuana.  Sponsors need to collect over 240,000 valid signatures by December 30 to place the measure before the Legislature early next year.


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