Posted by Mike Liszewski
In late November, a pair of governors from opposite sides of the country displayed some unexpected and rather refreshing bravery on the subject of safe access for medical marijuana patients. Governor’s Chris Gregoire (D) of Washington and Lincoln Chafee (I) of Rhode Island announced they were filing a petition against the federal government to reclassify marijuana out of Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Shortly after, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D) endorsed the petition. As Americans for Safe Access has been engaged in its own decade-long petition to reschedule marijuana, the desire of these state leaders to have fellow governors join their rescheduling petition is something ASA strongly supports. On Day 3 of Medical Marijuana Week, ASA asks you to request your governor join the rescheduling petition.
The news of Gregoire and Chafee was unexpected because previously these governors had vetoed bills that would have facilitated regulated safe access in their respective states. As it turns out, that fact played a large role in why the governors created the petition. Both leaders had expressed disgruntlement over the federal government’s meddling of state-approved medical marijuana programs played into their vetos. “We’ve done it out of frustration, frankly, seeing what’s happening, seeing the abuses, seeing the crackdown,” said Gregoire. While Washington and Rhode Island have been prodded into derailing their programs that promote safe access, the federal abuses and crackdown may be most pronounced in California, where the pressure from US Attorney threat letters to public officials has been further exacerbated by the manipulation of IRS Tax Code 280E landlords and the pursuit of civil asset forfeiture even after evicting medical marijuana providers (a bizarre strategy if the feds are trying to encourage landlords to evict dispensary tenants). Similar abuses have been taking place throughout other parts of the country such as Colorado. Montana and Michigan. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) had attempted to use the cloak of the federal clampdown to shut down her state’s program until multiple lawsuits forced her to move forward. And just last week, Gov. Markell (D) of Delaware announced that his state’s program would be indefinitely suspended in the due to pressure from the Department of Justice.
However, at least one state has decided to brave the federal clampdown and move forward with new legislation and regulations that promote safe access. Vermont, who quickly joined the petition, passed a law earlier in 2011 that would bring regulated dispensaries to the state. Undeterred by mounting federal intimidation, they published regulations in January announcing the fine details of the program which should be up and running later in 2012.
Americans for Safe Access asks you to reach out to your governor and ask them to join the governor’s petition to reclassify marijuana. The fact the marijuana remains in Schedule I of the CSA is the greatest single reason why safe access remains allusive throughout much of the United States. ASA is working on several fronts to overcome the major obstacle to public health, from our own rescheduling petition to encouraging Congress to pass HR 1983. The more high profile public officials who challenge the absurd classification of marijuana under Schedule I, the sooner the federal government will have no choice but to act.
Action Alert – Urge Your Governor to Join the Rescheduling Petition: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/182/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=8970
Gregoire/Chafee press release: http://www.governor.wa.gov/news/news-view.asp?pressRelease=1809&newsType=1
Gregoire/Chafee rescheduling petition: http://www.governor.wa.gov/priorities/healthcare/petition/combined_document.pdf
DOJ letter to Governor Gregoire: http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/DOJ_Threat_Letter_WA.pdf
DOJ letter to Governor Chafee: http://safeaccessnow.org/downloads/DOJ_Threat_Letter_RI.pdf
CRC rescheduling petition: http://www.drugscience.org/PDF/Petition_Final_2002.pdf