Gov. Chris Gregoire is petitioning the federal government today to reclassify marijuana to allow it to be prescribed as a medicine.
She is following up on a promise made this winter when she refused to go along the Legislature’s proposal to legalize and license medical-marijuana dispensaries, saying that would subject state employees to federal prosecution.
Washington does allow medical professionals to write authorizations for marijuana, under a system that isn’t recognized by federal law governing prescription drugs.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, a political independent, joined Washington’s Democratic governor in urging the Drug Enforcement Administration to acknowledge the drug’s medical uses by downgrading it from Schedule I, the home of heroin and LSD, to Schedule II that includes morphine, opium, cocaine and methamphetamine.
Gregoire said there’s a “huge volume of interest” from other governors in joining their effort. But their chances of success are uncertain and in any case, they are probably in for a long wait.
The DEA denied a more ambitious petition this July to make marijuana a Schedule III, IV or V drug — which had been filed back in 2002.
But she said the governors’ petition is backed by months of serious research, written with help from doctors, and supported by doctors’ and pharmacists’ groups like the American Medical Association.
“We know now that pharmacists actually can dispense this,” Gregoire said. “We know that the chemistry is there to do so.”