barack obama marijuana
Ending Marijuana Prohibition Global Drug War

Blumenauer, Conyers, Other Members Call On Obama To Highlight Importance Of Public Health-Centered Approach To International Drug Policy

barack obama marijuanaYesterday, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03) and John Conyers (MI-13) led 12 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives in sending a letter to President Obama urging the Administration to highlight the importance of a less punitive and more public health-centered approach to international drug policy at the upcoming United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in April.

From states taking action to end the failed prohibition of marijuana to lifting the ban on federal funding for syringe access programs proven to reduce HIV infection rates, the United States has made significant advancements moving away from a punitive approach to drug policy to one centered on public health and healthcare, access to treatment services, and harm reduction tools that reduce overdose. The upcoming UNGASS provides an opportunity for the United States to showcase these advancements as a model for international drug policy.

“While there still remains much to be done in the United States to fully support a public health and harm reduction approach, under your leadership, the Administration has made changes in federal policy and has supported the work of these state and local leaders,” the lawmakers wrote. “We are moving in a good direction, and this shift in United States domestic drug policy over the last decade has the potential to serve as a model for the international community, cautioning other countries against a dangerously punitive response and demonstrating an approach to drug policy that is more compassionate, just, and effective on the local and the international levels.”

The lawmakers also called on President Obama to address the Special Session on behalf of the United States, as President Bill Clinton did during the last UNGASS on drugs in 1998.

“That unique platform gives you the opportunity to elevate the 2016 UNGASS on the World Drug Problem and change the way drug policy is approached, not only domestically but around the world, establishing the United States’ commitment to a new approach on an international scale,” the lawmakers wrote.

In addition to Blumenauer and Conyers, the letter was signed by Representatives Steve Cohen (TN-09), Sam Farr (CA-20), Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Ted Lieu (CA-33), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Jerry McNerney (CA-09), Beto O’Rourke (TX-16), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Jose Serrano (NY-15), and Chris Van Hollen (MD-08).

Included below is the full text of the letter. Click here for an electronic version.

March 17, 2016

The Honorable Barack Obama

President of the United States of America

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

In April 2016, there will be a United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on the World Drug Problem in New York City. This will be the first UNGASS on this subject since 1998. Since that time, and thanks in large part to your leadership, the United States has made significant advancements, moving away from the outdated and harmful rhetoric and policies historically surrounding this issue and toward policies focused on public health and civil and human rights.

This UNGASS will therefore be an important opportunity for you and your Administration to showcase these advancements, and we encourage you to take full advantage of this timely and powerful event to communicate our progress toward a more effective, science-based approach to drugs to the rest of the world.

In recent years, the United States has significantly moved our domestic drug policy from a punitive approach, almost entirely focused on the criminal justice system, to one centered on public health and healthcare, access to treatment services, and harm reduction tools that reduce overdose and spread of infection. These changes have occurred at the local, state, and federal levels and have had the support and leadership of policymakers across the political spectrum. Examples include the fact that 23 states, DC and Guam have legalized the use of medical marijuana, and four states have approved systems to legalize and regulate adult use of marijuana, rather than maintain prohibition. In December of 2015, Congress also passed legislation that included language enabling states and localities to spend federal funds on syringe access programs, effectively lifting the decades-long ban on federal funding for such programs that have been proven to reduce HIV infection rates. Further, over the past ten years, many states have reexamined their drug sentencing laws, recognizing that the costs of long drug sentences are enormous in both financial and human terms, many are now aiming to improve public safety and control the burden on the taxpayer by reducing sentence lengths for drug offenses and addressing disparities in sentences for crack and powder cocaine. Finally, states and localities have increased the availability of community-based prevention and diversion supports, expanding access to evidence-based treatment programs.

While there still remains much to be done in the United States to fully support a public health and harm reduction approach, under your leadership, the Administration has made changes in federal policy and has supported the work of these state and local leaders. We are moving in a good direction, and this shift in United States domestic drug policy over the last decade has the potential to serve as a model for the international community, cautioning other countries against a dangerously punitive response and demonstrating an approach to drug policy that is more compassionate, just, and effective on the local and the international levels.

The world looks to the United States for leadership on the issues that impact the global community. Drug policy is one of those issues. We urge you and other representatives of your Administration to highlight at every opportunity our nation’s growing commitment to the protection of the health and safety of individuals, communities, and nations. The discussions and outcomes of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meetings happening in Vienna this week, for example, will set the tone for the UNGASS in April. We hope that the official United States delegates to the CND convey the tremendous progress that has been made domestically and reiterate the importance of approaching drug policies with a lens focused on public health and civil and human rights to ensure the success of the 2016 UNGASS.

Finally, we hope that you will deliver the plenary address on behalf of the United States, as President Clinton did during the last UNGASS on drugs. That unique platform gives you the opportunity to elevate the 2016 UNGASS on the World Drug Problem and change the way drug policy is approached, not only domestically, but also around the world, establishing the United States’ commitment to a new approach on an international scale.

We thank you in advance for your consideration of this request, and look forward to continuing to work with you on these critical issues.

Source: Earl Blumenauer press release

  • By-U-Boy

    He needs to do something!!

  • Jon

    Knowing him he will probably say that we need to intensify the war on drugs, and prosecute medical marijuana patients.

    • Fungi Sclerotia 1427

      It is 1 week short of 7 years ago THIS MONTH,
      (Thursday, March 26th, 2009), that Obummer LAUGHED
      at the highest-trending topic, (cannabis law reform),
      on the Electronic Town Hall Meeting message boards.

      How much has he “evolved” since then…???

    • dagobarbz

      You damned dopers should buy overpriced pharmaceuticals. That’s what they want you to do and you’re just not doing your part to keep Big Pharma funded!

  • PhDScientist

    Everyone should call the white house comment line at (202) 456-1111 and ask that the President get Medical Marijuana removed from Schedule 1 IMMEDIATELY.

    Please call every day and ask everyone you know to do so too and to ask everyone they know to do it and to pass the idea on.

    With luck, the effort will “Go Viral”

    This weekend, like every other one, over 3,000 Americans will die of CANCER after going through “Hell On Earth”

    Every American with CANCER deserves the right to have safe, legal, access to Medical Marijuana.

    Every. Single. One!

  • PhDScientist

    Everyone who cares about this issue should Google “JAMA Oncology Marijuana”
    and read the article in “JAMA Oncology” published on March 17th, 2016.
    The authors confirm what 82% of Oncologists surveyed already agreed — that Medical Cannabis should be available to every American Cancer Patient that wants to include it in their treatment regimen. Medical Marijuana is a “Wonder Drug” for Cancer Patients undergoing Chemotherapy and shows real promise for helping treat their underlying Cancer itself. Every American Cancer Patient deserves the right to have safe, legal, access to Medical Marijuana. Every. Single. One.

  • PhDScientist

    Here’s a link to the Cannabis and Cannabinoids–Health Professional Version (PDQ®) page from the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes Of Health

    http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/cam/hp/cannabis-pdq#link/_26_toc