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News (Media Awareness Project) - US WA: Editorial: Federal Reclassification Of Marijuana A
Title:US WA: Editorial: Federal Reclassification Of Marijuana A
Published On:2011-12-11
Source:Daily News, The (Longview, WA)
Fetched On:2011-12-13 06:04:29

Efforts to legalize marijuana make for strange politics, as evidenced
by a recent request made by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire and Rhode
Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who want the federal government to
recognize the substance's therapeutic value.

Gregoire, a Democrat, and Chafee, a Republican-turned-Independent,
take issue with the Obama administration, which has unexpectedly been
cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries.

Last week, the governors from opposite coasts petitioned the federal
Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify marijuana, which since
1972 has been on the Schedule I drug list. That's the same category as
LSD, heroin and methamphetamine, which have no medical value.

However, a growing body of medical experts (and most voters in
Washington) argue that weed - indeed - has legitimate medical uses.

The governors asked the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II
drug, which would allow it to be prescribed by doctors, just as they
can prescribe opiates.

Reclassifying marijuana so that it could be sold in pharmacies has
long been sought by marijuana activists, but in recent years support
for such an action has spread among professional medical groups.

Gregoire and Chafee may seem like unlikely flag-carriers because both
have faced criticism in their states for killing proposals passed by
their legislatures to legalize dispensaries.

In April, Gregoire vetoed sections of a bill that aimed to regulate
medical marijuana dispensaries in Washington, saying she could not
approve a measure that might put state workers at risk of federal
criminal charges. The two U.S. attorneys in the state warned the
governor that state employees would not be immune from prosecution
even if the closest they came to the contraband was signing a permit
allowing someone else to grow it or use it.

We think that's an overreaction from the U.S. attorneys, who could
choose to make marijuana a low priority in a state where a majority of
voters favor medical use, or at least did so when last asked. In 1998,
60 percent of Washington's voters supported medical cannabis.
Washington is one of 16 states with laws recognizing that marijuana
can be used to alleviate pain and treat glaucoma, not just get healthy
people buzzed.

Reclassifying marijuana to Class II wouldn't put $20 packets of "Maui
Wowie" into every convenience store, but would align federal law with
a position taken by 16 states, thousands of doctors and tens of
thousands of legitimate patients.

A reclassification would allow local governments such as the Castle
Rock City Council to move forward with their own ordinances. Castle
Rock has delayed a vote on becoming the first city in Cowlitz County
to allow group medical marijuana gardens because of the conflicting
state and federal laws. Washington law does allow groups of medical
marijuana patients to form collective gardens, and those with medical
marijuana permits might sue if their legal gardens are prohibited.

We'll save a discussion of arguments for and against wider
decriminalization of marijuana for another time. But we agree with the
American Medical Association, Washington State Medical Association
dozens of other medical groups. It's time to reclassify marijuana so
it can be prescribed, and we commend governors Gregoire and Chafee for
sticking their necks out in favor of such action.
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