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  1. Docta
    View attachment 23378 The governors of Washington and Rhode Island petitioned the federal government on Wednesday to reclassify marijuana as a drug with accepted medical uses, saying the change is needed so states like theirs, which have decriminalized marijuana for medical purposes, can regulate the safe distribution of the drug without risking federal prosecution.

    The move by the governors — Christine Gregoire of Washington, a Democrat, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, an independent who used to be a Republican — injected new political muscle into the long-running debate on the status of marijuana. Their states are among the 16 that now allow medical marijuana, but which have seen efforts to grow and distribute the drug targeted by federal prosecutors.

    “The divergence in state and federal law creates a situation where there is no regulated and safe system to supply legitimate patients who may need medical cannabis,” the governors wrote Wednesday to Michele M. Leonhart, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

    Marijuana is currently classified by the federal government as a Schedule I controlled substance, the same category as heroin and L.S.D. Drugs with that classification, the government says, have a high potential for abuse and “no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

    The governors want marijuana reclassified as a Schedule II controlled substance, which would put it in the same category as drugs like cocaine, opium and morphine. The federal government says that those drugs have a strong potential for abuse and addiction, but that they also have “some accepted medical use and may be prescribed, administered or dispensed for medical use.”

    Such a classification could pave the way for pharmacies to dispense marijuana, in addition to the marijuana dispensaries that operate in a murky legal zone in many states.

    “What we have out here on the ground is chaos,” Governor Gregoire said in an interview. “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.

    “If our people really want medicinal marijuana, then we need to do it right, we need to do it with safety, we need to do it with health in mind, and that’s best done in a process that we know works in this country — and that’s through a pharmacist.”

    The State of Washington approved medical marijuana in 1998, with a ballot question that won 60 percent of the vote. But like many states, Washington soon found itself in a legal gray area. The Legislature tried to clarify things last spring, when it passed a bill to legalize and regulate marijuana dispensaries and growers.

    But the Justice Department warned that growing and distributing marijuana was still against federal law, and said that “state employees who conducted activities mandated by the Washington legislative proposals would not be immune from liability.” Ms. Gregoire, while sympathetic to the goals of the bill, wound up vetoing much of it.

    It was similar on the other side of the country, where Rhode Island passed a law authorizing state-regulated marijuana dispensaries. This fall Governor Chafee said he could not go ahead with the plan because federal prosecutors had warned him that dispensaries could be targets of prosecution.

    Advocates for medical marijuana praised the move on Wednesday, but said the governors should not wait for the federal government before going forward with state initiatives. Opponents said that even if marijuana was reclassified, it was unlikely that pharmacies would be able to dispense it, because the drug is usually smoked and comes in varied strengths.

    As recently as June the D.E.A. denied a petition to reclassify marijuana, based on a review conducted several years earlier. But Ms. Gregoire and Mr. Chafee said the attitude of the medical community had changed since the government last reviewed the issue.

    In 2009 the American Medical Association changed its position and called for reviewing the classification of marijuana, saying that the current classification was limiting clinical research.

    Published: November 30, 2011

    Ms. Gregoire noted that many doctors believe it makes no sense to place marijuana in a more restricted category than opium and morphine. “People die from overdose of opiates,” she said. “Has anybody died from marijuana?”


  1. StinkinLincoln
    Legalize it!
  2. Alfa
    Somewhat off topic, but what position does Christine Gregoire have in the political scene? Is she a political heavy weight who may run for presidency at some point?
  3. Docta
    At age 64 Governor Gregoire is getting on a bit and not seeking a third term in the state of Washington.

    Christine Gregoire officially endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 , at the Washington caucus Obama beat Clinton in every county in the state.
    It seems that Governor Gregoire is heading for a position in the Obama administration as a pay off for backing him in '08.
  4. Terrapinzflyer
    Also unrelated but worth mentioning- the current US "Drug Czar" Gil Kerlikowske was sheriff of Seattle in WA for 7 years or so, and had a much more enlightened stance on marijuana and drugs in general then he now professes...

    Democrats in WA, and even many republicans in western WA have a very liberal view on drugs in general, and tend towards more of a harm reduction then law&order approach. So it's relatively easy for politicians there to follow suit. But being thrust onto a national stage may very well temper those views.

    EDIT Should add- unless I am mistaken the Oregon board of pharmacy, and I believe similar boards in at least two other states have rescheduled marijuana as schedule II. If more states follow this lead, along with passing medical marijuana laws, this will ramp up pressure on the federal government to make changes.
  5. Docta
    Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin supports petition by
    Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire

    MONTPELIER, Vt.—Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin said Thursday he supports and will sign onto a request that federal law be changed to allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana and pharmacists to fill the prescriptions.

    "I think it's ludicrous that marijuana is put in the same category by the federal government as heroin and other drugs that are extraordinarily addictive," the Democratic governor told reporters at a news conference Thursday.

    His comments came one day after Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire filed a report and petition with the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to change marijuana from a "Schedule 1" drug, banned under federal law, to a "Schedule 2" drug available by prescription.

    The DEA has taken a dim view of such suggestions in the past; an agency spokeswoman said the DEA had no immediate comment about the governors' petition.

    Several states, including Vermont, have passed laws that allow patients with chronic illness or intractable pain to have access to marijuana. In Vermont, patients must get a recommendation from their doctor saying marijuana use is part of their treatment and register with the Department of Public Safety. They can grow the drug themselves or have a specially designated caregiver grow it for them.

    Those state medical marijuana laws conflict with federal law, though. And federal authorities have been cracking down in some states, launching raids of marijuana dispensaries last month in California, Washington and Montana.

    Shumlin would go further, though, than making marijuana a prescription drug, he said Thursday. He reiterated past statements that he supports decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana as a few other states, including Massachusetts, have done. Someone caught with less than an ounce of marijuana in Massachusetts faces no state criminal penalty but a possible civil fine of $100.

    Shumlin said Vermont "should use our precious law enforcement dollars to go after the criminals that are really disrupting our communities."

    Associated Press / December 1, 2011
  6. talltom
    Another version of the story:

    The governors of Rhode Island and Washington are the latest voices to call for the federal government to ease restrictions on medical marijuana.

    In a letter [PDF] to the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Gov. Christine Gregoire (D-Wash.) and Gov. Lincoln Chafee (I-RI) asked the government to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II controlled substance, which would put it in the same category as cocaine, opium and morphine, in order to regulate its use for medical purposes without risking federal prosecution. The classification could potentially result in medical marijuana to be dispensed from pharmacies.

    “If our people really want medicinal marijuana, then we need to do it right,” Gov. Gregoire told The New York Times. “We need to do it with safety, we need to do it with health in mind, and that’s best done in a process that we know works in this country — and that’s through a pharmacist.”

    The DEA denied a similar petition last June based on a review done years earlier, but marijuana advocates say they have more support from the medical community today.

    In October, California’s largest group of doctors announced its support of legalization on the grounds that California’s medical marijuana law has created an “untenable situation for physicians: deciding whether to give patients a substance that is illegal under federal law.”

    Dr. Donald Lyman, the physician who wrote the California Medical Association’s (CMA) new policy told The Los Angeles Times that only after medical marijuana is legalized can the medical community undertake the research needed to determine whether the drug is useful for medical purposes. The CMA is believed to be the first large medical association to call for legalization.

    The push to reclassify the drug comes almost two months after the federal government launched a coordinated offensive against dispensaries in California — the country’s largest marijuana market — announcing a series of civil forfeiture lawsuits and warning dozens to shut down or face criminal charges and confiscation of property. In San Diego alone, 62 percent of dispensaries have been closed since the crackdown began. But it’s not just California: Over the past nine months, the federal government has taken a number of steps to crack down on medical marijuana around the country.

    According to a Gallup survey released in October, 50 percent of Americans said they believed marijuana use should be made legal, the highest percentage to date. But there is significant resistance to legalization; 46 percent say marijuana use should remain illegal.

    Rhode Island and Washington are two of 16 states (plus the District of Columbia) that have have passed medical marijuana laws. More than a third of all states are experimenting with some form of legalization or decriminalization.

    *Dec. 2, 2011 Update: Vermont Governor Peter Schulman announced yesterday that he would also sign the request to ask the DEA to reclassify marijuana. “I think it’s ludicrous that marijuana is put in the same category by the federal government as heroin and other drugs that are extraordinarily addictive,” he said at a press conference.

    Azmat Khan
    PBS Frontline
    December 1, 2011

  7. Docta
    The attached pdf is the aforementioned instrument of administrative partition.

    I highly recommend reading pages 2-4 the proposed ruling and statement of grounds are very well done, the author of the document finds a way to cover rebuttal and at the same time educate the reader.
  8. CaptainTripps
    Gov. Gregoire's federal marijuana petition welcome, if overdue

    Gov. Gregoire gets big points for offering a petition to the federal government to reclassify medical marijuana. Good for her. She should have had a similar petition ready last year.

    WASHINGTON and Rhode Island Govs. Chris Gregoire and Lincoln Chafee have petitioned the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana so it can be prescribed and sold in pharmacies.

    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.

    But why didn't Gregoire have a petition ready to go last year? Medical-marijuana legislation became the disaster of the 2011 session. The governor was scared off by the federal government into vetoing most of the bill, leaving a confused mess.

    It appears the governor was genuinely worried that state workers would get in trouble with the federal government, which bans marijuana. An overreaction. The U.S. Attorney's Office surely has more important things to focus on.

    Washington voters said years ago they wanted patients with AIDS, cancer and similar diseases to have access to cannabis to ease pain and nausea.

    As often happens, the initiative was foggy. It did not make clear how patients were supposed to get marijuana.

    State Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, attempted to take the mystery out of it with a bill last year to bring the cannabis network into the open. Now, Kohl-Welles is working on a new bill.

    The governor should find a way to support the senator, who keeps pushing to bring needed clarity to cities and counties that want to regulate medical-marijuana "access points" and impose sensible zoning around them.

    Originally published Sunday, December 4, 2011 at 4:00 PM


    If you follow the above link, you can read responses to this editorial in the Seattle Times. Some of the responses are quite informative.


  9. Terrapinzflyer
    The Doctor Behind Medical Marijuana
    Meet the MD with the governor's ear.

    The never-ending debate about marijuana usually pits activists on one side and law enforcement on the other, with a smattering of politicians in between. But marijuana, at least in part, is supposed to be a medical issue. So where are the doctors?

    "There's a lot of ignorance," explains Gregory Carter, a rehabilitation-medicine specialist at Providence Hospital in Olympia and Centralia. Like the general public, he says, many docs believe there isn't a lot of research on the subject, when in fact there's a ton—some of it his.

    Carter says that's why he spent months working on Governor Chris Gregoire's petition, released last week, asking the the feds to reclassify marijuana as a legal drug. "There are now literally thousands of peer-reviewed papers," Carter says. Nearly 50 reach what is considered the "gold standard" of research: double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in which patients don't know whether they're getting cannabis, a placebo, or a different type of medication. These gold-standard studies have shown marijuana to be helpful for alleviating chronic pain—specifically nerve pain—and other symptoms, such as nausea.

    More than a decade ago, before medical marijuana became legal in this and other states, Carter knew next to nothing about the plant's medicinal uses. Much of the early scientific literature on pot, based on recreational rather than medical use, was negative. In his practice, though, Carter saw a lot of patients with Lou Gehrig's disease, and one told Carter he was finding pot helpful. "I was shocked," the doctor says. "In fact, I didn't really believe him."

    But after medical marijuana become legal here in 1998, more patients started saying the same thing. Carter kept track of his patients' experiences with marijuana, and in 2001 published a seminal paper that he says launched a body of research looking at cannabis' potential use in neurodegenerative diseases.

    Carter, who also holds a position at the University of Washington, has continued to research cannabis, but it has not been easy. Because marijuana is illegal, the feds as well as UW require exhaustive paperwork before they will authorize its use in research. To get approval for a recent study using human subjects, Clark says he had to hire a lawyer. The process took six months.

    And those are only the barriers to research. Doctors considering whether to recommend marijuana to patients have something more serious to think about: punishment from the feds. Carter points out that the DEA can take away a doctor's ability to prescribe drugs like morphine, which can put a physician out of business.

    That helps explain why most of the doctors signing off on marijuana authorizations are affiliated not with mainstream practices, but with dispensaries or other pot businesses. Carter, however, does give such authorizations. He says he protects himself by following the state law. And, he says, "I try to keep a low profile"—something he may have lost with his participation in the governor's petition.

    By Nina Shapiro
    Wednesday, Dec 7 2011

  10. Terrapinzflyer
    Some interesting discussions of this move at the recent MAPS conference.

    One common sentiment was that this was really a dodge by the governors to avoid, or at least buy time, instead of moving ahead with medical marijuana laws in their states.

    Another point raised was whether marijuana really belongs in the scheduling at all, or should ultimately be exempted much like tobacco and alcohol.

    Really, if it is to be scheduled at all I think the best available science would put it in Schedule V. And really I think it should be exempted as are alcohol and tobacco- the only two real differences being cannabis is far less addictive or harmful then either of those two, and it does have medicinal uses.

    And here's a smummary of the schedules in the US:
    Schedule I
    (A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision."
    includes: Heroin, ibogaine, GHB, MDMA, LSD, BZP etc etc

    Schedule II
    (A) The drug or other substances have a high potential for abuse
    (B) The drug or other substances have currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, or currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence."
    includes: cocaine, fentanyl, methylphenidate and adderall, amphetamines, methadone, etc

    Schedule III
    (A) The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
    (B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence."

    includes: ketamine, xyrem (which is really GHB which is schedule I) hydrocodone or codeine when compounded with an NSAID, Anabolic Steroids, LSA, etc

    Schedule IV
    (A) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.
    (B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III

    includes benzodiazepines and "Z Drugs", phenobarbital, modanfil, etc
    Schedule V
    (A) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.
    (B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV

    includes: cough medicines with codeine, pregabalin, etc.
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