Obama on Weed: Hope and Same

President Obama gave an interview to The New Yorker, you know the same interview where he said racism was probably to blame for his falling approval numbers. He was asked about marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington and he answered:

he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

That appears to indicate the Obama Administration is supportive of allowing states to set their own policies on marijuana legalization. Although the Obama Administration has began to walk back those comments we should assume the Obama Administration is willing to consider a sane, rational approach to marijuana.

In 2010, nearly 790,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana related offenses and African-Americans and other minorities were disproportionately targeted. While marijuana is a dangerous drug and I would not encourage anyone to use it under any circumstances, the effects appear to be no more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, both of which are legal.

In addition, marijuana prohibition has contributed to the growth of organized crime and the ruining of countless lives as many of those arrested become felons and are torn from their families.

If Obama is serious about changing our marijuana policies (he isn’t, but lets pretend he is for a second) here a few things he needs to do:

Pardon all non-violent marijuana offenders. President Obama should issue an immediate pardon for all Federal inmates being held for non-violent marijuana offenses. This will show that the Federal war on marijuana was a mistake and allow its victims a chance to rebuild their lives.

Remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act which puts it in the same category as heroin and LSD. A future administration can choose to crackdown on Colorado and Washington under the CSA. The only way to prevent this is for Congress to remove marijuana from being regulated under the CSA.

Reschedule marijuana as a Schedule 3 drug. There’s a way for Obama to act without Congress and that is to order the DEA to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 3 drug which would allow it to be prescribed for medicinal purposes. This would instantly allow the states that have legalized medical marijuana to carry on without Federal interference.

Talk is cheap and we should judge Obama on this issue by his actions, not his words. Unless he acts, this is just cheap rhetoric to motivate young social liberals to vote for Democrats in 2014. Just like closing Gitmo and respecting the privacy of Americans, this is just more “hope and same” from a failed president.


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