While President Obama is positive marijuana will continue to be legalized on a state-by-state basis throughout the course of the next few years, the leader of the free world gave no indication during a recent YouTube interview that the federal government plans to end prohibition anytime in the immediate future. Instead, he offered up a modest dose of the usual swill that Americans have grown accustomed to hearing from the White House regarding the reform of national pot policies: A heavy emphasis on state’s rights as opposed to the nationwide repeal of a law that suggests weed is as dangerous as heroin.
“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington, through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” said Obama. “The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”
It would have been nice to hear some clarification from the president as to why the government still deems it necessary to classify cannabis a Schedule I dangerous substance with no medicinal value, even though over half the states in the country have been allowed to legalize it for medicinal and recreational purposes. Yet his primary focus in regards to federal efforts to end the domestic war on drugs was placed on dissecting the penalties for non-violent drug offenses in order to determine what can be done to tweak the criminal justice system—without reforming federal pot laws.
“What I am doing at the federal level is asking my Department of Justice just to examine generally how we are treating nonviolent drug offenders,” said Obama. “What we have done is instead of focusing on treatment—the same way we focused, say, with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as public health problem—we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem. I think that it’s been counterproductive, and it’s been devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law, and that has to be changed.”
Last year, the Obama Administration dragged a few progressive efforts aimed at pot reform down the hill and turned them loose, including a move to prohibit federal funds from being used to prosecute the medical marijuana community , as well as giving Native American tribes the freedom to legalize pot on reservation lands. So, what is preventing the president and the gang from, at least, downgrading the federal classification of cannabis before leaving office in 2016? The answer is: Nothing.
President Obama stated last year during an interview with The New Yorker that the reclassification of marijuana was the job of Congress. However, while the wild bunch on Capitol Hill has the power to make changes to the Controlled Substances Act, the Attorney General, who oversees the Drug Enforcement Administration, has that authority as well. The truth is, the Obama Administration could initiate the proceedings to rescheduled cannabis, but they would prefer to jerk just enough of the American chain to give the illusion of steady reform while still honoring some bizarre pact with corporate devils.