Although many people had hoped that President Obama would make an effort to end marijuana prohibition before turning in his keys to the White House later this year, a recent article from The Washington Post seems to indicate that this policy will remain unchanged unless Congress decides, all of sudden, that the world would be a better place if we could all smoke weed without a man in blue trying to wrestle us into a pair of handcuffs.
On Friday, White House press secretary John Earnest told reporters that President Obama has no plans of digging into marijuana policy reform before the end of his term, suggesting that any action on the issue would need to come from the halls of Congress. Sadly, this statement is consistent with what Representative Steve Cohen claims President Obama told him earlier in the week.
Calling the president’s response to the question of rescheduling “disappointing,” Cohen explained that Obama’s attitude on the issue was the same as it has been for the past seven years, “If you get me a bill, and get it on my desk, I’ll probably sign it.”
Interestingly, Earnest took some time on Friday immediately following the briefing to elaborate on the reasoning behind the president’s refusal to take the issue of nationwide pot reform seriously.
“There are some in the Democratic party who have urged the president to take this kind of action, and the president’s response was, if you feel so strongly about it and you believe there’s so much public support for what it is that you’re advocating, then why don’t you pass legislation about it and we’ll see what happens.’”
Ever since Obama told The New Yorker in 2014 that he didn’t feel marijuana was any more dangerous than alcohol, cannabis activists have been gunning for the president to step up and make some kind of an effort to pull the United States out of the trenches of federal prohibition. Yet all the Obama Administration seems to be comfortable with is issuing random memos stating their intentions to stay out of state marijuana issues, while the president continues to put the ultimate resolve of this problem in the hands of Congress.
“This isn’t the first time President Obama has unnecessarily tried to pass the buck on marijuana rescheduling to Congress,” Tom Angell of the Marijuana Majority told The Washington Post. “It’s unacceptable and frankly embarrassing for a president who has so nonchalantly acknowledged his own marijuana use to allow the federal government to continue classifying cannabis in such an inappropriate category.”
But the truth of the matter is the President can only initiative the rescheduling process, his hands are tied when it comes to single-handedly legalizing the leaf for the entire nation. It’s really up to the FDA and the DEA to make the decision of whether to offer a rescheduling recommendation before any concrete policy changes can be set in motion. Throughout the years, several rescheduling requests have been reviewed by the DEA, but so far, they have refused to even consider moving the substance to a Schedule II. But if he really wanted to, the President could take a hardcore stance on legalization and sternly persuade his administration to do whatever it takes to get it done.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t appear we are going to see any changes to federal marijuana policy in 2016.
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