President Obama spent the majority of 2014 skirting the issue of marijuana reform, but it appears as though some elusive power has finally given the leader of the free world permission to take his cookie-cutter comments on pot reform to the next level.
During an interview with VICE News, Obama took the opportunity to delve deeper into the question of federal pot reform, predicting that Congress could soon be forced to rethink the nation’s cannabis prohibition policies. [Watch the video below.]
The President told VICE co-founder Shane Smith that as the trend of statewide legalization continues to spread, and as bipartisan politics keep coming together in support of the issue, folks on Capitol Hill will have no choice but to make crucial adjustments to the law. Yet, he maintained that any change will be in the direction of criminal justice reform, easing the penalties for non-violent drug offenders, and not a total prohibitionary repeal.
“We may be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side,” Obama said. “At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, then Congress may reschedule marijuana.”
It is interesting that the President’s comments come just one week after Senators Rand Paul, Cory Booker and Kristen Gillibrand introduced legislation aimed at reclassifying cannabis as a Schedule II controlled substance, and legalizing it for medical use on a national scale. Is this merely a coincidence, or a hint that changes in federal pot laws are right around the corner?
It is somewhat discouraging that while marijuana legalization in Colorado has substantially bolstered the state’s economy—$53 million in state tax revenue—while also creating a wealth of new jobs, Obama suggests the concerns expressed by young Americans over pot reform are misplaced and should be refocused on the bigger picture.
“It shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” Obama said. “Let’s put it in perspective. Young people, I understand this is important to you. But you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”
Contrary to what President Obama would have you believe, the concept of pot reform begs the question: Ask not what your country can do for legal weed, but what legal weed can do for your country. The end of prohibition would lead to the next industrial revolution in the United States, decrease unemployment rates, and boost the gross national product, all while bringing the American dream back from the grave.
With all due respect, Mr. President, marijuana reform should be a bigger priority.