Thursday, November 15, 2012

Does the bid to have Florida reclassify marijuana from a Schedule l drug stand a chance?

Posted by on Thu, Nov 15, 2012 at 1:29 PM

marijuana.jpg
In addition to Colorado and Washington state's groundbreaking votes to legalize marijuana, Massachusetts became the 18th state in the union to approve the use of medicinal marijuana, and Arkansas denied the Razorback state from becoming the first in the South to join that group.

Meanwhile, back in the Sunshine State, activists with the Florida Cannabis Action Network presented Attorney General Pam Bondi with a petition calling on her to change the classification of marijuana as a Schedule l illegal drug.

In a WMFE news story, Florida Cannabis Action executive director Jodi James said, "Until the attorney general makes that decision, then everyone else's hands are tied including the medical community."

The article's author, Jessica Palombo, goes on to write, "The group says removing cannabis from the schedule one drug list will allow Florida scientists to research its effects on cancer and let doctors prescribe it."

According to the Federal Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is currently a Schedule l drug, as is heroin, cocaine, LSD, and a host of other substances considerably more potent than weed.

However, even if Bondi supports the concept (she has until the middle of next month to decide), there is a question about whether she has the legal authority to make that call, versus the federal government. But there is a precedent.

In June 2010, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy reclassified marijuana from a Schedule l drug to a Schedule ll drug.

A year ago, Washington state Gov. Christine Gregoire and Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee filed petitions with the Drug Enforcement Administration asking that the substance be reclassified. Then in December, Colorado's governor made a similar request.

In the 18 states (and the District of Columbia) where medical marijuana is legal, doctors can "recommend" but not "prescribe" pot. To get marijuana, patients in those states have to grow their own or enlist a dispensary or special caregiver, instead of going to a regular pharmacy.

Speaking with CL on Thursday, The Florida Cannabis Action Network's Jodi James said it's codified in Florida law that the attorney general has the power to make such a move, citing Florida Statute 893.0355.

"I believe this is the right way to do it. I want everyone to reach out to the surgeon general ... We know that our top law enforcement officer is going to reach out to our top doctor, and we want the medical professionals reach out in a different way."

Previous attempts to get a constitutional measure on the Florida ballot have gone nowhere. James said by going this route, "cannabis would be available to patients upon the signature of the governor in July. Possibly available to patients before that."

She said the Legislature would ultimately have to affirm the recommendation with a vote, which might be problematic, to say the least.

A new Rasmussen poll released earlier this week showed that just seven percent of the country believes the war on drugs is working.

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