42 Wash. lawmakers ask DEA to reclassify marijuana

Jan 30, 2012

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — More than three dozen Washington state lawmakers are asking the federal government to reclassify marijuana.

In a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on Monday, the lawmakers said they supported Gov. Chris Gregoire's previous request on the issue. Reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug would allow it to be prescribed by doctors and handled by pharmacists.

Seven Republican lawmakers are among the 42 who have signed on to the letter.

“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. More to the point, it is clear that the long-standing classification of medical use of cannabis in the United State as an illegal Schedule I substance is fundamentally flawed and should be changed," the lawmakers said in the letter.

Joint measure filed

In addition to the letter, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, introduced Senate Joint Memorial 8017 making the same request to reclassify medical marijuana. The joint memorial was scheduled for a hearing in the Health & Long Term Care Committee on Thursday.

Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee filed the petition with the DEA last November. Washington and Rhode Island are two of 16 states and the District of Columbia that have laws allowing the medical use of marijuana.

Washington voters approved a medical marijuana law in 1998 that gives doctors the right to recommend - but not prescribe - marijuana for people suffering from cancer and other conditions that cause "intractable pain."

Other marijuana efforts

Last year, Gregoire vetoed most of a bill that made major reforms to the state's medical marijuana law, saying state workers could be prosecuted under federal law the way the measure was written.

A separate bill this year is attempting to provide medical marijuana patients with easier access to the drug. The new proposal would allow local governments to regulate nonprofit patient cooperatives, which could grow up to 99 plants.

Under the latest proposal, nonprofit patient cooperatives would be prohibited in counties with fewer than 200,000 residents - mostly rural areas - unless local jurisdictions enact ordinances allowing them. The cooperatives would be allowed in counties with a population of more than 200,000 unless local jurisdictions opt out through an ordinance.

The plan would create a voluntary registry for patients.

Lawmakers that signed the letter to the DEA include:

  • Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D
  • Sen. Karen Keiser, D
  • Rep. Roger Goodman, D
  • Sen. Tom Rodney, D
  • Rep. Upthegrove, D
  • Rep Joe Fitzgribbon, D
  • Sen. Maralyn Chase, D
  • Rep. Jim Moeller, D
  • Sen. David Frockt, D
  • Rep. Paul Harris, R
  • Sen. Margarita Prentice, D
  • Sen. Nick Harper, D
  • Rep. Timm Ormsby, D
  • Rep. John McCoy, D
  • Rep Andy Billig, D
  • Rep Sherry Appleton, D
  • Sen. Sharon Nelson, D
  • Sen. Ed Murray, D
  • Rep. Marcie Maxwell, D
  • Rep Jeannie Darneille, D
  • Sen. Debbie Regala, D
  • Rep. Jamie Pedersen, D
  • Rep. Chris Reykdal, D
  • Sen. Steve Conway, D
  • Sen. Andy Hill, R
  • Rep. Sam Hunt, D
  • Rep. Steve Tharinger, D
  • Sen. Steve Litzow, R
  • Rep. Gerry Pollet, D
  • Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D
  • Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D
  • Rep. Deborah Eddy, D
  • Sen. Adam Kline, D
  • Rep. Cindy Ryu, D
  • Rep. Eileen Cody, D
  • Rep. Judy Clibborn, D
  • Rep. Cary Condotta, R
  • Rep. Luis Moscoso, D
  • Sen. Karen Fraser, D
  • Sen. Joe Fain, R
  • Sen. Cheryl Pflug, R
  • Sen. Jerome Delvin, R