Now that Amendment 64 is law, the mainstream media is beginning to grapple with the contradictions between the act's language and federal law. The latest solution, as floated by the Washington Post and Rachel Maddow fill-in Ezra Klein? Reschedule marijuana so that it is no longer listed as a Schedule I controlled substance. But this alleged new idea (see the video below) is years old.
In fact, Colorado formally asked the Obama administration to make this move in December 2011.
No question that treating cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic is absurd on its face. This designation holds that marijuana has no known medical use, yet the feds continues to more or less tolerate medical marijuana laws (currently approved in eighteen states and the District of Columbia). Additionally, the scheduling suggests that cannabis is more dangerous than Schedule II drugs such as cocaine and opium -- an argument that DEA boss Michele Leonhart looked like an ass making amid questioning by Colorado Representative Jared Polis during a Congressional hearing in June. Here's that video:
As such, it was only a matter of time before we'd see pieces such as Dylan Matthews' Washington Post blog item "The White House can decriminalize medical marijuana in one easy step" and last night's MSNBC feature by Klein, which includes a clip of John Hickenlooper equating the requirement to help enact an amendment he actively opposed to being the governor of a state "that has terrible forest fires."
Also highlighted: footage of pot smokers burning a different kind of trees on the steps of the State Capitol.
In Colorado, though, the notion of rescheduling marijuana as at least a partial out for Obama is not only venerable, but it's enshrined in law.
Continue for more about the concept of rescheduling marijuana, including another video and documents such as the complete DEA controlled substances list and Colorado's rescheduling request to the federal government. In a February 2010 blog post headlined "Brian Vicente on new medical marijuana bill: If legislators don't take patient access into account, 'the people will hold them responsible,'" the named attorney, who went on to become one of Amendment 64's primary proponents, highlighted a key passage of House Bill 1284, which regulated the state's MMJ industry. ""There's also some interesting stuff in there where the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment would request that the federal government reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, which suggests that the debate is getting more educated about what's occurring," he said.
Some provisions of the bill fell out during the legislative process -- but the rescheduling request remained. A passage that enumerates the powers and duties of the state licensing authority sports a number of items under the heading "The state licensing authority shall." The seventh of them reads:
IN RECOGNITION OF THE POTENTIAL MEDICINAL VALUE OF MEDICAL MARIJUANA, MAKE A REQUEST BY JANUARY 1, 2012, TO THE FEDERAL DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION TO CONSIDER RESCHEDULING, FOR PHARMACEUTICAL PURPOSES, MEDICAL MARIJUANA FROM A SCHEDULE I CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE TO A SCHEDULE II CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE.
And who is the state licensing authority? An earlier section of the bill handed this role to "the executive director of the Department of Revenue or the deputy director of the Department of Revenue if the executive director so designates."
As an October 2011 blog post pointed out, that meant DOR director Barbara Brohl would have to make the request, and she did, sending a letter to Leonhart dated December 22 of that year. We've included it below.
What happened as a result of this missive? Nothing. But now that the Washington Post and MSNBC are on the case, perhaps the White House will give rescheduling another look given what Rolling Stone describes in a new overview article on the topic as "Obama's Pot Problem."
Here's the Klein segment, followed by Brohl's letter to Leonhart and the complete DEA controlled substance list.
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Department of Revenue chief petitions feds to ease up on MMJ."