Last week, the Department of Revenue sent a letter formally petitioning the federal government to reschedule marijuana; read it below. Sensible Colorado's Brian Vicente sees the move as a sign of the times, and predicts such rescheduling will happen within five years -- if Barack Obama or Ron Paul win the 2012 election.
"I think it was actually fairly meaningful," says Vicente about the letter, penned by DOR head Barbara Brohl. "Colorado was the fourth state just last year to send a request to the federal government to reconsider marijuana's schedule in the Controlled Substances Act" -- Schedule 1, meaning it has no officially recognized medical value on the federal level. "That shows the groundswell of support is growing."
Perhaps, but Brohl's letter is not exactly enthusiastic, perhaps because she was compelled to pen it rather than doing so on her own initiative, as Vicente explains.
"The way this worked was that the legislature passed a law, HB 1284, in which the legislators told the Department of Revenue to send a letter to the federal government about rescheduling. And the fact that our state legislature supported doing this is meaningful in and of itself."
Even so, Vicente acknowledges that similar letters sent a few weeks back by the governors of Rhode Island and Washington exuded more passion for such a policy shift than did Brohl's missive.
"I wish ours had been stronger," he notes. "The letter from the other governors made a very strong case for taking the common sense step of rescheduling marijuana. I think our letter was a little more perfunctory and could have been more persuasively written. But I really think the act itself is the most important piece."
Vicente doesn't expect the feds to move forward with rescheduling in the immediate future. "I think it's a ways off -- and when I say that, I'm thinking five years, not ten, twenty, thirty or forty." As for what will finally push the national government to take the leap, he believes "a larger critical mass of states" must follow Colorado's path. "Whether that's a half-dozen or a dozen, I don't know. But I think that's reasonable, and the momentum is clearly on our side. There are sixteen medical marijuana states right now, and the federal government can read the writing on the wall."
The 2012 election will play a role in determining the delay's length, he believes. While many marijuana activists have decried what they see as the current administration's war on weed, Vicente feels that "a second-term Obama presidency would give us a pretty strong chance of seeing marijuana rescheduled."
Not so if there's a Republican elected president, "with the exception of Ron Paul," he continues, noting that in today's Iowa caucuses, "he's a frontrunner."
Whatever happens in Iowa or in the November elections, Vicente argues that federal marijuana rescheduling is "inevitable. It makes no sense to have it as a Schedule 1, and everyone realizes that. The question is, how long will it take for the federal government to reach that conclusion?"
Read Brohl's letter below.
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