WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- The governors of Rhode Island and Washington state asked the federal government Wednesday to reclassify marijuana as a drug with medical uses.
Govs. Christine Gregoire of Washington, a Democrat, and Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island, an independent who used to be a Republican, said the change is needed so states like theirs can regulate the safe distribution of the drug without risking federal prosecution, The New York Times reported.
Rhode Island and Washington are among the 16 states that allow medical marijuana.
Marijuana is classified by the federal government as a Schedule I controlled substance. Schedule I also includes heroin and LSD, and the U.S. government says they have a high potential for abuse and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States," the Times said.
The governors said they want marijuana reclassified as a Schedule II controlled substance. That would put it in the same category as cocaine, opium and morphine, which the government says have "some accepted medical use and may be prescribed, administered or dispensed for medical use."
The Times said a change in classification would allow pharmacies to dispense marijuana, in addition to the marijuana dispensaries in many states.