Gregoire asks feds to reclassify marijuana

Gov. has petitioned the federal government to reclassify marijuana as a drug that can be prescribed by doctors and filled by pharmacists, in a move that would require the Federal Drug Administration to do new scientific research. “In the year 2011, why can’t medical cannabis be prescribed by a physician and filled at the drug store just like any other medication?” Gregoire said in a statement Wednesday.  “The answer is surprisingly simple. It can. But only if the federal government stops classifying marijuana as unsuitable for medical treatment.” Gregoire made the petition to the Drug Enforcement Administration with Lincoln Chafee, the governor of Rhode Island.

The feds consider marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance, a category that includes heroin,  L.S.D. and other drugs deemed as having a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Gregoire wants the drug reclassified as a Schedule II controlled substance, which would mean it still has potential for abuse, but has some accepted medical use. Washington voters approved of medical marijuana in 1998, creating legal gray areas that conflict with federal law. Gov. Chris Gregoire this year vetoed a law that would have licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and created a registry of marijuana patients.

Since then, Seattle has enacted a law that requires medical marijuana shops to obtain business licenses and follow public-health regulations to protect marijuana patients’ safe access to medicine. Earlier this month, the DEA conducted its largest raid on local pot dispensaries. The move upset many patients. “What we have out here on the ground is chaos,” The New York Times quoted Gregoire as saying. “And in the midst of all the chaos we have patients who really either feel like they’re criminals or may be engaged in some criminal activity, and really are legitimate patients who want medicinal  marijuana.”

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