Press Release  | 11/30/2011

Governors of Washington and Rhode Island Petition Federal Government to Reclassify Marijuana to Allow Medical Use

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DPA's Ethan Nadelmann Lauds this Development but Notes that Nothing Prevents those States from Implementing their own

Governors Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island petitioned the federal government today to reclassify marijuana as a drug with accepted medical uses.

Rhode Island and Washington are among 16 states and the District of Columbia that have adopted medical marijuana laws since 1996. As many of those states have acted in recent years to implement regulatory systems to better control access to medical marijuana by qualified patients, they have met increasingly aggressive resistance from the federal government, which continues to insist that any use of marijuana is illegal under federal law.  After initially signaling its intention to de-escalate this conflict by deferring to state officials, the Obama administration has allowed an array of federal agencies and U.S. Attorneys to oppose these attempts at local regulation, including the threat of prosecuting state employees who oversee medical marijuana distribution programs.

Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement:

"The governors' call for re-scheduling marijuana so that it can be prescribed for medical purposes is an important step forward in challenging the federal government's intransigence in this area,"  said Ethan Nadelmann.  "But their call should not serve as an excuse for these two governors to fail to move forward on responsible regulation of medical marijuana in their own states.  Governors in states ranging from New Jersey and Vermont to Colorado and New Mexico have not allowed the federal government's ban on medical marijuana to prevent them from approving and implementing statewide regulation of medical marijuana.  Governors Gregoire and Chafee should do likewise."

Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Ethan Nadelmann 646-335-2240

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