Jan 092013
 January 9, 2013
Gil Kerlikowske

Gil Kerlikowske

By Phillip Smith

Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP—the drug czar’s office) head Gil Kerlikowske said Tuesday that the country is “in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana”—an at least rhetorical advance from his 2009 position that marijuana legalization is “not in the president’s vocabulary and not in mine.”

Kerlikowske’s terse comments on the topic came in response to three marijuana legalization petitions posted on the White House’s We the People web site, which promises to respond to any petition that garners more than 25,000 signatures. The three had a combined signature total of more than 173,000.

But they also come in a political context altered by last November’s elections, when two states, Colorado and Washington, easily approved marijuana legalization initiatives. The use and possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults over 21 is now legal in both states, and officials in both are now grappling with the task of coming up with and implementing regulations for legal marijuana commerce. The federal government has yet to respond substantively as to whether or not it will seek to impede that process.

“Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana,” said Kerliwowske. “At President Obama’s request, the Justice Department is reviewing the legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington, given differences between state and federal law.”

That was the extent of Kerlikowske’s response, except for referring readers to a recent Barbara Walters interview with President Obama in which he wasn’t ready “to go that far” when it came to the topic of pot legalization, but added that “we’re going to need to have is a conversation about how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal.”

The rhetorical shift was “pretty significant,” said Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, a recently-formed group calling for decriminalization or legalization.

“I guess it makes a difference when marijuana legalization gets more votes than your boss does in an important swing state, as happened in Colorado this last election,” Angell said. “From ‘legalization is not in my vocabulary and it’s not in the president’s,’ as Gil Kerlikowske often used to say, to ‘it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana’ is a pretty stark shift.”

Actions speak louder than words, Angell said, but still…

“Of course, what really matters is to what extent the administration actually shifts enforcement priorities and budgets, but I sure do like hearing the US drug czar acknowledge the fact that marijuana legalization is a mainstream discussion that is happening whether he likes it or not.”

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About Jay Smoker

I have been smoking marijuana for almost twenty years and I have no plans to stop anytime soon. My life was turned upside down in 2009 after getting arrested and tossed in jail for being in the wrong state with legal medical marijuana. I got fed up, and I now devote all my time to ending this insanity.I am responsible for the technical side of this project, but try to chip in when I can, either with syndicated articles or original content.Follow me on Facebook and Twitter.Feel free to email. any questions or concerns. Peace!
  • Matthew Cunningham

    Will the Fed be allowed to continue the Lies, Fraud and Scam of prohibition will the stop subsidizing the bounty and forfeiture for cannabis arrest and focus on real crimes with real victims.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Tokareff/1181624926 Raymond Tokareff

    How do you have a serious conversation with a Mad Dog? Nothing left to do but pray over their grave!

  • doug420

    politicians refusal to consider legalizing weed-shows they aren’t serious about cutting defecit spending. So our grandchildren can pay for cops,prisons to harrass minorities now? Funk that!

  • http://www.whistler.tc/ Patrick

    Tax it. we need the money.