Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Governors push U.S. to reschedule marijuana as medicine

The governors of Washington and Rhode Island have written to the Obama Administration and submitted a 99-page petition pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act requesting that DEA reschedule marijuana to Schedule II, a classification that would allow it to be prescribed by doctors under strict controls, according to The New York Times. Under Schedule II, marijuana could only be grown, processed and distributed by persons who have obtained "registrations" from DEA, like drug companies and pharmacists. This is slightly different from the approach in H.R. 1983, a bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, that would direct the Administration to reschedule marijuana to a schedule other than Schedules I or II.

This petition by the governors puts significant pressure on DEA and the Obama Administration to begin moving away from its head-in-the-sand approach to medical marijuana. The petition, in calling for Schedule II status, urges the result recommended in September 1988 by the DEA's Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, as the result of the long litigation and fact-finding initiated by NORML, and assisted by the old Drug Policy Foundation.

The governor's petition will also help undercut the crusade initiated by the four U.S. Attorneys in California to attack all medical marijuana dispensaries. However, if DEA does reschedule marijuana to Schedule II, all the dispensaries in California and other states would continue to be in violation of federal law because they do not have registrations. It is hard to imagine that DEA would modify their regulations to permit the current dispensaries to be registrants.

All registrants have strict inventory control requirements and must keep careful records on where their controlled substances come from and how they are distributed.

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