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Obama Elaborates On Marijuana Policy

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obama marijuana cnnBy Phillip Smith

In an interview with CNN Friday, President Obama expanded on his remarks regarding marijuana made in a recent New Yorker interview. In that latter interview, Obama described marijuana as not being any worse than alcohol, and CNN interviewer Jake Tapper pressed him on those comments.

When Tapper asked him about rescheduling marijuana out of Schedule I, the most restrictive classification, he declined to take a position, instead trying to pass the buck to Congress.

“First of all, what is and isn’t a Schedule I narcotics is a job for Congress,” he said.

That comment was misleading. While Congress created the drug schedules and placed drugs in different schedules when it passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, the act gives the executive branch the power to reschedule drugs. In fact, the DEA has denied three separate petitions seeking to reschedule marijuana.

“I stand by my belief based on the scientific evidence that marijuana for casual users, individual users, is subject to abuse, just like alcohol is and should be treated as a public health problem and challenge,” he said.

The president added that his main concern was the criminalization of marijuana use.

“My concern is when you end up having very heavy criminal penalties for individual users that have been applied unevenly and, in some cases, with a racial disparity,” he said. “I think that is a problem. We’re going to see what happens in the experiments in Colorado and Washington. The Department of Justice under Eric Holder has said that we are going to continue to enforce federal laws.”

Obama added that the federal government doesn’t have enough manpower to bust people “smoking a joint on the corner.” But it doesn’t need to; more than 90% of all marijuana arrests are made by state and local police, not federal law enforcement.

Instead of concentrating on individual users, Obama said, the federal government was working to prevent undesired consequences, such as out-of-state drug trafficking or violence, from “creeping out of this experiment that is taking place.”

The president also issued a “cautionary note” about the possible consequences of a commercialized marijuana industry and warned legalization proponents to watch out for increased use levels.

“I think they have to ask themselves some tough questions, too,” he said. “Because if we start having a situation where big corporations with lots of resources and distribution and marketing arms are suddenly going out there, peddling marijuana, then the levels of abuse that may take place are going to be higher.”

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77 Comments

  1. What is that supposed to be a picture of? Could it be something your dog left behind? Geez, what are you feeding that mutt?

  2. I suggest the CD “Out West” by Gomez, a British band. (“He only grows for guys he knows…”)

  3. No serious Presidential candidate will do that in the foreseeable future (unless you consider Rand Paul a serious candidate.) There are too many moderate voters who still believe it will make their daughters listen to jazz music and kiss black men.

  4. Nope. It’s about politics. He doesn’t want to give conservatives any ammunition that could be used against future Democrat candidates. He is also concerned with his legacy and doesn’t want to go down in history as the “stoner President.” But I think he would sign congressional legislation that declassified cannabis in a heartbeat.

  5. Marijuana legalization is an issue that will drive voters to the polls. I believe that and raising the minimum wage are issues that progressives and democrats will leverage to drive voters to the polls so they can ride the turnout coattails for their candidates. Now removing marijuana from the DEA’s schedule of drugs is indeed something he or Atty Gen Holder could do unilaterally and that may be a good issue to test conservatives on – many conservatives believe in individual and states’ rights and will be hard pressed to point to removing marijuana from the DEA schedule of drugs as an abuse of executive power….it’ll be more a correction of 77 years of bad policy.

    http://www.change.org/petitions/president-barack-obama-if-marijuana-is-safer-than-alcohol-remove-it-from-the-dea-s-schedule-of-drugs

  6. “errr….um, uh … what i meant to say was….. uh-duh… he,- i mean, they–” I knew it! Life goes on in the Polity-party business as usual

  7. “The pinnacle of the art of deception is to tell a lie and have it received as the truth!” Fox News.

  8. It takes strategic planning, that’s all. You start with the one-two punch: President Obama says we’re going to reschedule ALL drugs, making some legal… so there. Then, everyone starts arguing about cocaine and heroin, because, after all, marijuana doesn’t even belong in this group.

    Then, you over-reach: Next, Obama says we’re going to start increasing the regulations surrounding alcohol, including a “Think Before You Drink” campaign. We need to demonize something else, right?

    So, while everyone is trying to focus on what they are most outraged about, our lovely and relatively harmless cannabis plant slips by… almost unnoticed… like magic!

    I would rather be the president who was hated for legalizing drugs, than the one hated for drones, the NSA, and kissing the big banks’ collective asses. But then, that’s me.

  9. Robert Dewayne King on

    Because if he “takes a stand” then that is all he will be able to address for the rest of his time in office ! ” the pinacle of the art of deception is to tell the truth and have it recieved as a lie !” and if he allows the process that is in motion to continue as though he was reluctant to support it the repugs will continue to see it as a way to hurt him , ” Please dont throw me into da briar patch b’rer fox !”

  10. I can appreciate some protections, based on provable harms. For instance, right now it would be nice if the EPA and the CFPB were bigger than the military (yeah, I’m talking to you too, NSA).

    (Um… what I meant to say, Mr. NSA, is that we all need to concentrate more on our current problems, or something to that effect… Actually, I never know what I’m saying, I’m just trying to keep myself entertained, there’s no problem here, honestly…)

  11. The Lilly Ledbetter Act, the ACA (because it’s a beginning), g a y rights, and… I think Bin Laden is dead, so you have to be happy about that, right? And, if an executive order were to free marijuana, you’d be happy about that too, right? I could go on, but you get the point.

  12. Sometimes, you have to take a stand for what’s right. I don’t understand why that is so hard for President Obama to do. In the end, it doesn’t matter what he does or doesn’t do, the opposing side will always have something to complain about. That’s just politics.

    I think it’s vital for President Obama to do this before he leaves office. What will happen, with the eventual firestorm from the Republicans, is that it will include all of the ridiculous arguments about cannabis that are easily debunked. The Republicans will come off looking even more foolish than they already do about so many issues.

    Out of all the current issues that have popular support, cannabis is the one that will get the Democrats votes. That is, if they want this progressive movement to continue. Otherwise, the Democrats are in as much trouble as the Republicans.

    (Captain Picard for President!)

  13. The most hideously untrue thing you said, that Obama tried to START a civil war in Syria, proves you have no idea what you’re talking about, Boris. The civil war in Syria has been ONGOING for a long time now. Over 100,000 deaths and over 2 million people have fled the country. And NO, Obama didn’t start it. How inept are you? Or do you hate the President so much that reality doesn’t matter? If you don’t know what you’re talking about, stop talking as if you do.

  14. Exactly correct. If he makes a move before the midterms, it virtually guarantees 2 more years of an obstructionist congress. Come 2015 he’ll either have a working congress, or can make certain changes on his own.

  15. like prohibition is not effecting people negatively. my extended family relationship was ruined by prohibition. My aunt’s son was IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW over weed. My aunt would talk to my older sister, while i was in the room at 12-13 year old, and she would talk crap about how terrible teenage boys were and how pot makes you violent
    OLD PEOPLE HAVE THE MOST FRAGILE MINDS
    MAKES ME SO SICK THINKING I COULD HAVE TURNED OUT TO BE A LAZY SOBER BORING STRESSED OUT PILE OF ANTI MARIJUANA CRAP!
    CHRISTIANS stay away from me!
    Intelligent design save us, legalize weed

  16. You just lost respect?

    Benghazi, Obamacare, executive orders, trying to start a civil war in Syria, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood band of terrorists, selling his soul to bankers, I oould go on, but you get the point.

  17. Robert Dewayne King on

    If the prez were to do what so many here demand dont you see what the Tparty would make of it ! Remember the political war last year over the ACA ! He sees that the public is doing it for him (just like alcohol prohibition) and is doing what he can without stirring up the radical repugs to help it along . If they were to see it as “His Proposal” you would not like what would come next !!

  18. President Obama would do well to remember that one of the primary reasons alcohol prohibition was repealed was because the people were beginning to lose their deference for authority. Since these very authorities flaunted prohibition laws, Juries refused to convict bootleggers, even going so far as to drink the evidence. The very absurdity of the law was the death knell of Alcohol Prohibition.

  19. The president flipped and back peddled on the issue when pressed by the reporter in a recent interview. He could have stepped up and said it should at least be removed from the list of schedule 1 drugs, which he could do with one of his favorite tools, the executive order, but he didn’t.
    The federal government is missing out on loads of tax dollars by not changing their policy and allowing every state to make the call about whether or not to legalize it, especially as an optional treatment for many diagnosed medical issues.
    Unfortunately, the president proved that he’s merely the highest ranking politician in DC who can’t follow through on his presumed beliefs about legalization. Like it or not, when it comes to crunch time we are nothing more than the sum of our monetary contributions to politicians as in $50,000 per plates hosted dinners. Things in DC have become pathetic.

  20. the government should only make it legal for private citizens and small small companies to grow cannabis. One, to prevent monopoly’s from forming and getting involved and two, very sick patients might not be able to grow it for them selves. If Obama helped to actively stand up more against the DEA and congress on legalization of hemp and cannabis I might(slim chance) forgive him for being the horrible president he has been.

  21. Hes right in that last part. Thats why it should be decriminalized for individial users, kept within state gov and not fed and kept local so that old repub or rich assholes cant take the opportunities decriminalization provides

  22. Legalize it, and then regulate the big corporations right out of it – big dumb-ass marketing problem solved!

  23. Bring the Bible back. Freedom of religion. Jesus anointed disciples with honey oil on the third eye and they did miracles. So can I. So can you. The all seing eye is the third eye. Not some Egyptian symbol. It’s the specific part of your brain that gets stimulated. Marijuana is a doorway to the truth. Look it up. Very educating. Annoint the president.

  24. Richard S. Bank on

    The only reason Pres Obama keeps weed illegal is money. He smoked. He knows the deal. Private prisons and guard unions put up the money. Private prisons are the worst idea ever and should be made illegal.

  25. Shepherd Yerusalem on

    Well the Only thing dangerous about Marijuana are the cops who shoot you for having it:

    Number of American deaths per year that result directly or primarily from the following selected causes nationwide, according to World Almanacs, Life Insurance Actuarial (death) Rates, and the last 20 years of U.S. Surgeon Generals’ reports.

    TOBACCO – 340,000 to 450,000

    ALCOHOL (Not including 50% of all highway deaths and 65% of all murders) – 150,000+

    ASPIRIN (Including deliberate overdose) – 180 to 1,000+

    CAFFEINE (From stress, ulcers, and triggering irregular heartbeats, etc.) – 1,000 to 10,000

    “LEGAL” DRUG OVERDOSE (Deliberate or accidental) from legal, prescribed or patent medicines and/or mixing with alcohol – e.g. Valium/alcohol – 14,000 to 27,000

    ILLICIT DRUG OVERDOSE – (Deliberate or accidental) from all illegal drugs – 3,800 to 5,200

    MARIJUANA – 0

    (Marijuana users also have the same or lower incidence of murders and highway deaths and accidents than the general non-marijuana using population as a whole. Cancer Study, UCLA; U.S. Funded ($6 million), First & Second Jamaican Studies, 1968 to 1974; Costa Rican Studies, 1980 to 1982; et al. LOWEST TOXICITY 100% of the studies done at dozens of American universities and research facilities show pot toxicity does not exist. Medical history does not record anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana (UCLA, Harvard, Temple, etc.)

  26. Ron Ruedisueli on

    They just hate it because cannabis makes another generation of free thinkers, and they don’t like to see the 60s all over again!!

  27. Next time you vote make sure the next President to be elected wants weed legal and make him put it in writing

  28. love it.. its a job for congress, just like everything else that he said he would use executive action to go around congress on

  29. Many of people lost their life fighting prohibition… The government killed a lot of citizens trying to defend it’s laws.

  30. What abuse… The abuse of the laws? So speeding is an abuse then. Some people can’t go a day without obeying the speed limit also. That’s much more dangerous.

  31. “Because if we start having a situation where big corporations with lots of resources and distribution and marketing arms are suddenly going out there, peddling [ALCOHOL], then the levels of abuse that may take place are going to be higher.”

    President Obama, I changed your quote, just a little bit — now, what were you saying?

  32. Abuse of marijuana… Really? How do you abuse it and have it become a health problem? Accept the scientific facts. They are even out there within government testing. If it was off schedule I and legal in all states, there wouldn’t be a peddeling problem. There wouldn’t be a problem at all. The real problem is the government’s belief that it is harmful, when it is actually the opposite. What they taught us over the years was decietful and a lot of unfounded lies.

  33. Rico J Fonseca on

    Funny how he mentioned big corporations seeing as how those same companies have bought off all the politicians

  34. he talking about the abuse behind it not the fact that it gets you wayyy more fucked up somepeople cant go aday with out smoking just like somepeople cant go aday with out alcohol and coffee and soo much other things… they just being hypocrite!!!

  35. But the amount of marijuana smokers across the country is already pretty high Mr. Pres. nearly 3/4’s of the country strong!

  36. Lovely Melissa on

    marijuana is not the same as alcohol ,you are more out of mind and dangerous under alcohol,as marijuana calms the mind and relaxes you ,its not deadly you can not really abuse the drug cus you can only get so high.you cannot die from overdose on it ,it does not rot u from you the inside out like alcohol ,you can maintain marijuana use , so much safer then alcohol ,wish people stop making it sound so bad lke its some deadly drug when it actually is medicine for many , smh

  37. All i know is that I’m in Ohio & I have a disc disease & I have had a few friends that have brout medical weed to me & it helps do to i can’t take any pain meds, it all makes me really sick! If they could just get it started in Ohio for medical reason’s it would help so many.. Drinking & driving kills, also makes people abusive & Man made? Now weed is made by a simple seed that I believe is a cure & will help many medical conditions…

  38. Heres my problem with that what about the other countries that have had it legal and have less problems with drug abuse then any where look st other countries… Obama is all about foreign policies why not look at how it has been for them cause clearly are country needs to figure some thing out we are a mess of people fighting with eachother and we need to stand United to help save are planet time to stop whering about simmple things that grow naturally

  39. firetheliberals on

    Obama is doing his typical washington two step. Lets not do anything so we can be politically expedient if the poltical winds shift. Go see the movie killing lincoln, learn something about permanent changes

  40. There is some truth in his statement. Obama could re/deschedule cannabis… but then another President could just reverse that and put it back on schedule one. Congress would offer a more permanent solution. However, Obama should still remove it from the schedule system like alcohol because it would set precedent for the future and that is an important force of change in our system of laws and governance.

  41. I’m glad he’s worried about the corporations, even if it’s not for the same reason I do.

  42. Intergalactic Pimp on

    Yeah, he sure dodged the scheduling question, but I’m really glad he is at least now addressing the issue of cannabis criminalization. Good things are on the horizon.

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