Governors Christine Gregoire (D-WA) and Lincoln Chafee (I-RI) announced at a press conference Wednesday that they were jointly filing a federal petition to reclassify marijuana for medical use.
The use of medical marijuana has been legalized in 16 states and the District of Columbia. But it is still classified as a Schedule I substance under the federal Controlled Substance Act, the most restrictive classification reserved drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical value.
“Sadly, patients must find their way along unfamiliar, uncertain paths to get what their doctors tell them would help – medical cannabis to relieve their suffering,” Gregoire said. “People weak and sick with cancer, multiple sclerosis, and other diseases and conditions suddenly feel like — or in fact become – law breakers.”
“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? The answer is surprisingly simple. It can. But only if the federal government stops classifying marijuana as unsuitable for medical treatment.”
The petition, which cited more than 700 peer-reviewed research studies on medical marijuana, will require the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a new scientific review and analysis of recent advances in marijuana research.
The governor’s rescheduling petition follows a similar petition that was denied by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in July. The DEA claimed that “marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision.” The medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access (ASA) has challenged that claim in court.
The American Medical Association, the largest physician’s organization in the U.S., adopted a resolution in 2009 calling on the DEA to reclassify marijuana to faciliate research on marijuana-based medicines.