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City council votes on pot reclassification support tonight | Health

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City council votes on pot reclassification support tonight
Health, News, Politics

(Updated 8:07 p.m.) - Spokane City Council voted unanimously to share the same voice as dozens of other Washington state lawmakers urging the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule medical marijuana as a Schedule II drug so it can be prescribed by doctors and filled by pharmacists.

City council members Jon Snyder and Mike Fagan are co-sponsoring the resolution. Fagan says they’re piggy-backing on Governor Chris Gregoire’s recent petition to the federal government, asking to reclassify marijuana so Washington can safely distribute the drug without the risk of federal prosecution.

“We’re basically sending the same message,” Fagan said in support of the Governor’s letter. “Federal government, you have to get off your butt. We have patients who are in limbo... They’re subjecting themselves to arrest and prosecution.”

Fagan says his position is carried over from his successful campaign from last year, but also personal experience from the death of his step-mother.

“When you have a parent or someone special who is about ready to leave this world, you don’t have the opportunity to reconcile with them,” Fagan said.

If the resolution is passed, the City of Spokane would join 42 Washington lawmakers who also followed the governor's lead. Current state laws have allowed medical marijuana since 1998, but federal prosecution says otherwise.

“I’ve encountered a lot of folks out there who are card carriers, authorized by the state for medicinal purposes,” Fagan added. “Those patients have no where else to go except the underground economy... They’re subjecting themselves to arrest and prosecution.”

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I. Councilman Jon Snyder says that’s the same classification as heroin and LSD.

“Prescription drugs have more fatalities, not marijuana, but federal law still trumps state law in this regard. There’s a lack of clarity,” Snyder says.

This resolution lets citizens know how the City of Spokane and the council feel on the issue.

“Hopefully more pressure will bear on legislature,” Snyder added.

Governor Chris Gregoire said last April she’d like to see marijuana reclassified to Schedule II just after DEA agents raided about four marijuana dispensaries around Spokane.

The Governor’s letter, petitioned by herself and Rhode Island Governor, Lincoln Chafee, was sent in November addressing the change of attitude in the medical community and urging a change in policy.

The D.E.A. denied a petition to reschedule marijuana last June concluding that there is no substantial evidence that marijuana should be removed from schedule I.

Their denial says marijuana continues to meet the criteria for schedule I according to medical data from 2004: “marijuana has a high potential for abuse, marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and marijuana lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”

City Council: Spokane's City Council starts every Monday at 6 p.m. at City Hall's Council Chambers. A half hour open forum is held before and after the legislative agenda. 

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