Gov. Hickenlooper's spokesperson told Fox News that the governors have a valid point in pushing the petition, reports Scot Kersgaard at the Colorado Independent.
"The governors in Washington and Rhode Island raise a valid conflict that needs to be resolved," said Eric Brown, a spokesman for Gov. Hickenlooper. "Colorado law requires that we make a similar ask of the federal government by Jan. 1. We will do that. We will also continue to consult with other governors on the issue and with Colorado's attorney general before deciding whether anything else will be done."
The pertinent section of Colorado's medical marijuana law, HB 10-1284, which requires the request of the federal government, follows:
Shortly after Chafee and Gregoire filed the petition, Gov. Peter Shumlin of Vermont signed on as well.
|Rob Kampia, MPP: "Rescheduling marijuana ... will not change the federal penalties for possessing, cultivating, or distributing medical marijuana. That is the change we really need."|
"This is a good first step, in that it shows that politicians are catching up with the scientific consensus, which is that marijuana has medical value," said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "If it succeeds, federal law will finally acknowledge that fact.
"Rescheduling marijuana, however, will not change the federal penalties for possessing, cultivating, or distributing medical marijuana," Kampia said. "That is the change we really need.
"These governors should be insisting that the federal government allow them to run their medical marijuana operations the ways they see fit, which should include selling medical marijuana through state-licensed dispensaries," Kampia said.
Rhode Island passed a law mandating the creation of three dispensaries in the state prior to Gov. Chafee's term, but the governor did not implement the law, claiming fears of federal enforcement against dispensary operators.
Similar legislation was passed in Washington state earlier this year, but most of the bill was vetoed by Gov. Gregoire, including provisions to legally license dispensaries.
Both Chafee and Gregoire blinked after a series of threatening letters sent by U.S. Attorneys suggesting that medical marijuana dispensaries -- and the state employees assigned to regulate them -- could be targeted.
State-licensed medical marijuana workers have never been arrested in New Mexico, Colorado and Vermont, all of which officially license and oversee medicinal cannabis dispensaries.
Currently, marijuana is federally classified as a Schedule I controlled substance along with heroin, which officially means the government regards it as having a high potential for abuse and no medical value. Even methamphetamine and cocaine are considered less dangerous, and are included on Schedule II, substances which are considered to have some medical uses.