SEATTLE -- The governors of Washington state and Rhode Island have filed a petition with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration that would allow doctors to legally prescribe marijuana as a medical treatment.
Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island are asking for the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a schedule 2 drug from schedule 1 -- where it is listed alongside heroin and ecstasy -- which would make it legal for doctors to recommend its use and pharmacists to supply it.
"Poll after poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans now see medical marijuana as legitimate," said Gregoire of Washington, where pot-dispensing clinics have become popular in the 13 years since the state allowed them.
"Sixty percent of voters in our state said yes on a 1998 ballot measure. An ever-growing number of doctors now tell thousands of suffering patients they may find relief from the unique medicinal qualities of cannabis."
Washington and Rhode Island are two of 16 U.S. states which allow the sale of medical marijuana in some fashion, even though the drug is still illegal under federal law.
The governors' petition will require the Federal Drug Administration to conduct a new scientific review and analysis of recent advances in cannabis research since the last time the FDA reviewed the matter in 2006.
A spokesman for the DEA did not immediately return a call seeking comment.