Governors Ask Obama to Reschedule Marijuana

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On a press call this afternoon, Governor Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island and Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington announced that they have petitioned the federal government to change the schedule of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, a move they claim will remove the conflict between federal drug laws and state laws that allow the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries or compassion centers. Currently, marijuana is listed as Schedule I by the Drug Enforcement Agency alongside heroin and LSD, which means that the federal government considers marijuana to have no accepted medical use.


The Marijuana Policy Project had a mixed reaction to the news.


"This is a good first step, in that it shows that politicians are catching up with the scientific consensus, which is that marijuana has medical value,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “If it succeeds, federal law will finally acknowledge that fact. Rescheduling marijuana, however, will not change the federal penalties for possessing, cultivating, or distributing medical marijuana. That is the change we really need. These governors should be insisting that the federal government allow them to run their medical marijuana operations the ways they see fit, which should include selling medical marijuana through state-licensed dispensaries.”


            Rhode Island passed a law mandating the creation of three compassion centers throughout the state prior to Gov. Chafee’s term, but Gov. Chafee failed to implement the law, citing fears of federal enforcement against compassion centers operators. Similar legislation was passed in Washington earlier this year, but significant portions of the bill were vetoed by Gov. Gregoire, including a plan to legally establish medical marijuana distribution centers. Both governors pointed to a series of threatening letters sent by U.S. attorneys suggesting that medical marijuana dispensaries could be targeted.





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