Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and the governors in three other states — Rhode Island, Vermont and Conneticut — are petitioning the federal government to reclassify marijuana. Currently it’s a Schedule I drug, meaning it’s illegal and in the same category as heroine, methamphetamine and other street drugs. A classification to Schedule II would mean doctors could prescribe (not just recommend) it to their patients. Sixteen states plus the District of Columbia have a law that provides for the medical use of marijuana, which in many states has set up a conflict with the federal government. Governor Gregoire’s office says the situation in Washington has become untenable, and it’s up to the federal government to bring order to the chaos.
Similar petitions to the DEA have been filed in the past, most recently in 2002, but the Governor’s office says a lot has changed in the last nine years — including the American Medical Association changing its stance on the drug — so it’s time for a fresh look. Drug policy reform advocates like Ethan Nadelmann say the petition is a good first step but much bigger drug policy changes are needed from the federal government.
What do you think of this latest effort to decriminalize marijuana?
- Jason McGill: Lawyer; executive policy advisor for health care to Washington Governor Chris Gregoire
- Ethan Nadelmann: Founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance