Colorado to join other states asking feds to reclassify marijuana

Thursday, December 08, 2011 at 1:55 pm | More from The Colorado Independent

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire 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 and state drug laws, which will in turn allow for the establishment of medical marijuana dispensaries. Colorado will file its own request before the end of the year.

Shortly after filing the petition, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signed on as well. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper apparently has no plans to sign the petition, but Colorado will file its own request to reclassify marijuana.

Currently, marijuana is listed as Schedule I by the Drug Enforcement Administration alongside heroin and LSD, which means that the federal government considers marijuana to have no accepted medical use.

“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,” he said in a prepared statement. “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 Chaffee’s term, but Chaffee failed to implement the law, citing fears of federal enforcement against compassion center operators. Similar legislation was passed in Washington earlier this year, but significant portions of the bill were vetoed by 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.

Hickenlooper’s spokesperson told Fox News that the governors had a valid point in pushing the petition.

“The governors in Washington and Rhode Island raise a valid conflict that needs to be resolved,” said Eric Brown, Hickenlooper’s spokesperson. “Colorado law requires we make a similar ask of the federal government by Jan. 1. We will do that. We will also continue to consult with other governors on this issue and with Colorado’s attorney general before deciding whether anything else will be done.”

Brown told The Colorado Independent that Hickenlooper would not sign the petition but that Colorado law requires the Colorado Department of Revenue to make the same request of the feds by no later than January 2012, and Brown said that will be done.

Mark Couch, spokesperson for the Department of Revenue, said the letter is currently in the draft phase and will be sent as required by law.

The pertinent section of HB 10-1284 is below:


On the campaign trail, Hickenlooper said he supports medical marijuana but is opposed to broader legalization.

From the Fox story:

The DEA has rejected prior petitions seeking to reclassify marijuana, but Gregoire noted that this is the first petition signed by governors.

Gregoire also said the science on the issue has changed. The American Medical Association reversed its position two years ago and now supports investigation and clinical research of cannabis for medicinal use.

Gregoire said she was on a phone call in August with other governors in medical marijuana states and said that there was a “huge volume” of interest.

Asked why no other governors have signed onto the initial petition, Gregoire said she and Chafee wanted to take the lead on the initiative.

“I have every expectation that you will see other governors join us,” she said.

From an editorial in The Seattle Times:

Anything that moves the medical marijuana issue along and advances public understanding of its therapeutic value is a plus. There was high hope that the Obama administration would reclassify marijuana and provide safe access to qualifying patients across the country. At the very least, the expectation was that the administration would leave 16 medical-marijuana states, including Washington, alone. Instead, the federal government has been a stubborn, unhelpful player.

Gregoire wins points for sticking her neck out. She and Chafee are the first governors to take this step. But she should have done so sooner. Reclassifying would be a big first step, but the federal process could take years. Still, medical marijuana advocates are impressed with the enormous amount of time and effort put into the exhaustive petition.

An editorial at, urged California Governor Jerry Brown to join in the petition as a way to increase public safety.

The governors want marijuana reclassified to Schedule II, which is the classification for cocaine, morphine and opiates, which have “some accepted medical use and may be prescribed, administered or dispensed for medical use.”

As we in California well know, conflicting state and federal views on marijuana have created a marketplace for medical marijuana that is void of legitimate regulation and patient safety protections.

A reclassification of the drug could potentially lead to marijuana being dispensed by pharmacies, which would be safer than, and preferable to, the hodgepodge system of dispensaries, doctor “recommendations,” patient cards and uneven enforcement that has resulted in illicit, back-door distribution to recreational users and unnecessary difficulties for legitimate medical users.

As recently as July, the DEA decided against reclassifying marijuana, but the decision was primarily based on old studies. A number of medical associations and organizations support the reclassification, including the American Medical Association, which reversed its position because current law limits clinical research.



Bruce Marsh
Comment posted December 8, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

First some science. Marijuana genome study recently released shows cultivation more than 6000 years ago, making pot one of the earliest plants cultivated by humans. Of course, humans interacted with this plant for untold eons prior to cultivation. Humans co-evolved with pot and it is no accident that science refers to the canibinoid receptor system in humans. That is why it is medical. Pot is a gift from nature which we helped along. It really does work for many indications without harmful side effects. Notice how the Calif hospitals are NOT filled with pot heads suffering from all the scary claims as made in DEA propaganda. No increase in cancer, or accidents, or emphysema or anything. The experiment has already been run and results are already in. The DEA lies.

Archeologists found a stash recognizable as perfectly manicured flower buds dating back 3500 years in China. Google the picture it looks like it came from the shelf of the Weed Wars pot shops. Pot was widely known during the time of Jesus, and may have been carried by the Wise Men.

This country was founded by a couple of pot farmers named Washington and Jefferson. (google it) Our founding fathers wore clothing made of pot fibre, which was called “homespun.” (google it) Our founding documents were written and concieved while many of the founding fathers may have been under the influence of pot, since they WERE hemp farmers. Telling George and Thomas that they could not put pot in their pipes, because the DEA are totalitarian nazi’s who would put them into prison while claiming and clinging to a known pack of lies, would not go over very well, do you think?

Marijuana is our genetic and historical heritage. Growing and trading cannabis is a human right, a normal human behavior, and the prohibition against this normal human behavior is a crime against humanity. Stop the war against Americans doing what normal humans have always done. Just say no to drug warriors.

Anonymous Observer
Comment posted December 8, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

Cannabis is safer then almost all of the “over the counter drugs”, therefor I feel we need to repeal the prohibition of cannabis. The LD50 of cannabis being between 1:20,000 and 1:40,000 shows it’s about as safe of a med as can be administered. If for example a patient were to take a mere handful of sleeping pills, a thirty day supply or less, their heart and breathing could slow to the point of death, but the patient would need to take at least 20,000 doses of cannabis all together at one time to endanger themselves. Legalize Cannabis it’s the safest thing to do.

free speach66
Comment posted December 9, 2011 @ 10:40 am

Lord willing…Ron Paul 2012. RP will drain the swamp the fed) and get HEMP growing in this country!

Comment posted December 14, 2011 @ 9:06 pm

What is Hick waiting for? HB-1284 came in with the ~promise~ of a petition to reschedule.

Tick Tock Hick, Time is running out….

Perhaps if you fail to uphold YOUR end of the bill, we can then ignore OUR end of the bill?

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