VT Gov. Peter Shumlin (photo: VT Governor's office/flickr)

A spokesman for Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin (D) told the AP that he will join the recent petition filed by other governors to the federal government requesting marijuana be rescheduled. Yesterday, Washington state Governor Christine Gregoire (D) and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee (I) jointly filed the petition to the Drug Enforcement Agency asking that marijuana be moved from schedule I to at least schedule II.

Moving marijuana, which is currently schedule I, to a lower schedule will allow medical marijuana to be legally prescribed at a federal level. Currently marijuana is schedule I, which means -according to federal law- it has “a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.” As a result marijuana can’t be legally prescribed according to federal law.

The executive branch of the federal government is allowed to change a drug’s scheduling and does with some frequency. Moving cannabis to schedule II or schedule III would allow doctors to legally prescribe marijuana under federal law, while still keeping it illegal for recreational use.

Gov. Shumlin has traditionally been very good on marijuana policy reform issues so his willingness to join this new push isn’t surprising but is still encouraging. While it is too early to tell if this new petition by the governors will actually produce any change in federal policy, it is still a very important development for the marijuana reform movement. Having now three seating governors publicly stating the federal government’s current stance toward medical marijuana is absurd and needs to change is a powerful sign that the issue is gaining significant traction.