White House Hints At Possible Marijuana Moves
- I will today eliminate the controlled substance act and call for the end of all arrests for drug possession.”
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- Obama separately told HBO’s Bill Maher in an interview last month that federal prohibition enforcement is “not gonna be tenable” in light of so many states opting to legalize marijuana.
- Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
- November 4, 2016 2 North Pole: Santa Claus Puts Medical Marijuana On “Nice” List
The White House’s chief spokesman is leaving open the door to a big last-minute marijuana move before President Obama leaves office. Asked in briefing on
@mjdotc: White House hints at possible #marijuana moves. Details: @WhiteHouse #PresidentialKush
The White House’s chief spokesman is leaving open the door to a big last-minute marijuana move before President Obama leaves office.
Asked in briefing on Thursday about Obama’s recent far-reaching cannabis comments, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “I don’t think the president at this point was trying to signal any specific policy change.” [Emphasis added.]
In a Rolling Stone interview published this week, Obama said marijuana should be treated like cigarettes and alcohol, criticized the DEA for being behind the times on cannabis and speculated that the legalization debate is now ripe like the conversation about marriage equality was a few years ago.
Obama separately told HBO’s Bill Maher in an interview last month that federal prohibition enforcement is “not gonna be tenable” in light of so many states opting to legalize marijuana.
Similarly, Earnest told reporters on Thursday that it is “increasingly difficult” for the DEA and other law enforcement officials to carry out federal prohibition as a growing number of states enact new cannabis laws.
“That’s something that I think the next administration is going to have to grapple with and certainly law enforcement officers in the next administration and some policymakers are going to have to sort of consider what’s the most effective way to move forward here,” he said.
But the fact that Earnest used the phrase “at this point” to qualify the statement that this president isn’t announcing any specific marijuana moves gave advocates some hope that the administration still might have something in the works before Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20.
While Obama has largely given states room to implement their own legalization laws without federal interference, he has disappointed marijuana law reform advocates in other ways, such as by letting the DEA refuse to reclassify cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act earlier this year.
He has, however, commuted prison sentences for a relatively large number of people serving time for drug offenses. But even while Obama has used his clemency powers more than other modern presidents, the number of people he has moved to set free pales in comparison to the total number of nonviolent drug offenders who are behind bars.
A coalition of criminal justice reform advocates wrote to Obama this week urging a significant expansion of clemency during his final days in office. They want the president to go beyond reviewing pardon and commutation applications on a case-by-case basis and issue clemency to large groups of prisoners with sweeping blanket moves.
“We do not know whether the next president will support clemency efforts or criminal justice reform,” the advocates told the president. “But we do know that until January 20, you alone have the power to deliver both mercy and justice to those who deserve it.”
It is also possible that Obama could direct the attorney general to reinitiate cannabis rescheduling proceedings before leaving office, though past reviews of the drug’s Schedule I status have been quite lengthy and the final ruling would almost certainly be made by the next administration.
Trump’s pick for attorney general, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, is an ardent opponent of marijuana law reform, as is Congressman Tom Price of Georgia, the likely next secretary of Health and Human Services. Together, the two officials would decide on any petitions to reclassify cannabis under the Trump administration.
Tom, I have tried every way I can think of to get the following paragraph to be used by the President, the AG, the drug czar, some top dog to use to end this stupid eternal war on plant products: “It is time to stop funding the terrorists, barbarous cartels and America’s thousands of violent gangs who make more than 300 Billion dollars a year selling drugs. It is time to eliminate most of our nations drug overdose deaths when we allow adults to purchase pharmaceutical grade drugs instead of concoctions made in primitive labs by semii trained “chemists”. Time to stop locking up hundreds of thousands of Americans each year for possessing minor amounts of drugs. It is time for us all to realize that despite the expenditure of well over a trillion US taxpayer dollars and the arrest of nearly 50 million of our fellow citizens this drug war has never managed to stop even one person from finding their drug of choice. We must face the fact that the black market in drugs has become the worlds largest multi level marketing organization, enticing millions of our fellow citizens to join in the financial feast that allows for a 10 cent plant to morph into a hundred dollar bill. I therefore will today eliminate the controlled substance act and call for the end of all arrests for drug possession.” (Thanks Tom, maybe one of the henchmen will see and share this. Keep up the good work my friend.)