Medical marijuana advocates are hoping state governments can succeed where their efforts have failed by asking federal authorities to reclassify pot as a drug with medical use.
Shortly before Christmas, Colorado became the fourth state to ask the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana as a narcotic in the same league as heavyweight painkillers including oxycodone. The governors of Washington and Rhode Island filed a formal petition with the agency in November, and Vermont signed onto that request shortly afterward.
All four are among the sixteen states and the District of Columbia that have laws on the books that allow the medical use of marijuana, even though the drug remains illegal under federal law. Meanwhile, federal authorities have asserted their power by raiding dispensaries in states including California and Washington.
Supporters say the public is on their side, and the state requests show the feds are increasingly isolated on the issue. But they acknowledge it’s still an uphill battle…
Insert appropriate smartass remark about “Change” here.
In their November petition, Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee argued that “the vast majority of modern research” has found marijuana useful for treating patients with glaucoma, for relieving the nausea suffered by cancer patients in chemotherapy and for relieving symptoms of degenerative nerve diseases…
Critics call medical marijuana a “Trojan horse” for legalizing the drug entirely, and federal authorities mounted a string of high-profile raids in California, Washington and Montana in 2011…
Which further convinces social conservatives that their backwardness has at least an opportunist ally in the White House.
Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project said the states’ requests to reclassify the drug “could and certainly should” give the states some breathing room, “but I really don’t think it will…I think that it’s not going to provide any real tangible benefits immediately,” he said. But it if succeeds, “It will definitely bring the federal government more in line with currently accepted science.”
In the meantime, “There’s no reason for the federal government to be wasting resources going after medical marijuana providers,” he said.