Colorado is the fourth state within the past few weeks to ask the DEA to reschedule cannabis from its current, most restrictive classification as Schedule I, which means the government regards pot as having a high potential for abuse and no valid medicinal uses. Heroin and LSD are also considered Schedule I substances under federal law.
|The Weed Blog|
|Govs. Chris Gregoire (WA) and Lincoln Chafee (RI) were the first two to call for federal reclassification of marijuana to Schedule II|
After Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee petitioned the DEA to reschedule marijuana, Vermont Governor Pete Shumlin joined the call earlier this month.
The Colorado letter, written by Barbara Brohl of the Revenue Department, is not a surprise, reports John Ingold of The Denver Post. The Colorado Legislature passed a law last year that required the state to ask for rescheduling by the end of 2011.
All of the letters request that the DEA reschedule marijuana to Schedule II, along with substances such as methadone and cocaine. Schedule II substances are considered to have some medicinal value but are also seen as highly addictive.
While Schedule II substances can be prescribed by physicians, they are subject to tight controls and close oversight by the federal government.
It us unclear exactly how the laws currently legalizing medical marijuana in 16 states and the District of Columbia would be impacted by federal reclassification to Schedule II.
One educated guess is that it could be part of an overall federal strategy to switch the control of -- and the enormous profits from -- the medical marijuana industry from currently existing dispensaries, which operate outside of federal rules, to Big Pharma.
Once the playing field is cleared of competition by the federal crackdown, Big Pharma -- which, of course, is a major source of campaign contributions to both major political parties -- could claim it was "supplying the needs of cannabis patients" with preparations like Sativex, an oral spray containing a 50-50 ratio of the cannabinoids THC and CBD. Sativex is already being marketed in the United Kingdom and Canada.
One huge loss in such a Big Pharma takeover scenario would be the incredible genetic richness of the cannabis plant, through which hundreds of strains with various medicinal qualities have been made available to patients with varying medicinal needs.
Brohl lists Colorado's regulations for medical marijuana in the letter, and argues that current federal law -- under which marijuana possession and distribution are illegal for any purpose, regardless of state rules -- make it difficult for her to administer Colorado law.
"As long as there is divergence in state and federal law, there is a lack of certain necessary to provide safe access for patients with serious medical conditions," Brohl wrote in the letter.