Top Menu

Two Governors Ask Federal Government to Reclassify Marijuana


The governors of Rhode Island and Washington have asked the federal government to reclassify marijuana as a drug with accepted medical uses. Both states have decriminalized marijuana for medical purposes. The governors say reclassifying marijuana will help them regulate the safe distribution of the drug without the risk of federal prosecution, The New York Times reports.

Currently 16 states allow medical marijuana. Federal prosecutors have targeted efforts to grow and distribute the drug, the article notes.

“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,” Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington and Governor Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island wrote to Michele M. Leonhart, the administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Marijuana is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I controlled substance, along with LSD and heroin. The government considers these drugs to have a high potential for abuse, with no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

The governors have asked that marijuana be reclassified as a Schedule II controlled substance, alongside cocaine and morphine. The federal government considers these drugs to have a strong potential for abuse and addiction, but to have “some accepted medical use and may be prescribed, administered or dispensed for medical use.”

Changing marijuana’s classification could lead to pharmacies dispensing marijuana, according to the newspaper.

Earlier this year, warning letters from the federal government about medical marijuana prompted Governor Gregoire to veto a proposal to create licensed marijuana dispensaries. The letter warned that state employees would not be exempt from prosecution if they regulated medical marijuana. Although no state workers have been charged under federal law for regulating medical marijuana, Gregoire said she didn’t want to risk it.

4 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Carl Olsen
    Carl Olsen / December 3, 2011 at 11:20 am

    This is what has been missing and this is what fixes it. Accepted medical use in treatment in the United States is determined by state lawmakers. Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. 243, 258 (2006) (“The Attorney General has rulemaking power to fulfill his duties under the CSA. The specific respects in which he is authorized to make rules, however, instruct us that he is not authorized to make a rule declaring illegitimate a medical standard for care and treatment of patients that is specifically authorized under state law”).

  2. Richard P Steeb / December 3, 2011 at 12:22 am

    Cannabis was included in the United States Pharmacopoeia most of a century, from the time of Sir William Brooke O’Shaughnessy up until “marihuana” was unconstitutionally “taxed” out of it. Schedule I Cannabis has been a damned lie since the time of Nixon. To “schedule” Cannabis any more strictly than beer is a crime against humanity. It shall NOT stand.

  3. Ken Wolski / December 2, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    The federal government’s position on medical marijuana—total denial that marijuana has any medical benefits—is an embarrassment to science, to countless health care professionals and to patients nationwide. But worst of all, the federal government has blocked the path of inquiry into the benefits of medical marijuana. They refuse to allow large scale clinical testing. They have systematically and consistently prevented the kind of studies that would lead to FDA approval, and then they—and their apologists–complain that the FDA has not approved it. But science cannot be suppressed indefinitely.

    There is an entirely new scientific field emerging with the recent discovery of the Endocannabinoid System. This system details the cannabinoid receptors that exist in every organ of the human body, and explains why marijuana is effective for such a wide range of diseases, symptoms and conditions.

    It is a morally bankrupt position to forbid suffering patients to have access to the medical benefits of marijuana. This is especially true when licensed physicians are recommending marijuana for these patients, and when this relatively safe, effective and inexpensive therapeutic agent is readily available

  4. doogiem / December 1, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Yes, for now, two entirely different problems:
    1. The (possible/eventual) repeal of cannabis prohibition vs. continued prohibition (Ken Burns — get ready!);
    2. (And until then) science-informed policy (re its use as medicine) vs. voter-driven policy.

    The controversy and foibles regarding #2 is directly related to our lawmakers difficulties re #1.

    Craziness. Insanity. Stay tuned… “Keep your laws off my limibic system!”

Leave a Reply

Please read our comment policy and guidelines before you submit a comment. Your email address will not be published. Thank you for visiting

+ 3 = six

Reproduction in whole or in part of this publication is strictly prohibited without prior consent. Photographic rights remain the property of Join Together and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids. For reproduction inquiries, please e-mail