White House: “We’re in the Midst of a Serious National Conversation on Marijuana”

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director January 8, 2013

    We the PeopleIn October of 2011, the White House issued an official response to a petition NORML submitted via their We the People outreach program on the topic of marijuana legalization. Despite being one of the most popular petitions at the site’s launch, the answer we received was far from satisfactory. Penned by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, the response featured most of the typical government talking points. He stated that marijuana is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment and that its use is a concern to public health. “We also recognize,” Gil wrote, “that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.”

    Well, just over a year later, the White House has responded again to a petition to deschedule marijuana and legalize it. The tone this time is markedly different, despite being penned by the same man.

    Addressing the Legalization of Marijuana
    By Gil Kerlikowske

    Thank you for participating in We the People and speaking out on the legalization of marijuana. Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.

    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. In the meantime, please see a recent interview with Barbara Walters in which President Obama addressed the legalization of marijuana.

    Barbara Walters:

    Do you think that marijuana should be legalized?

    President Obama:

    Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.

    …this is a tough problem because Congress has not yet changed the law. I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what 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.

    When you’re talking about drug kingpins, folks involved with violence, people are who are peddling hard drugs to our kids in our neighborhoods that are devastated, there is no doubt that we need to go after those folks hard… it makes sense for us to look at how we can make sure that our kids are discouraged from using drugs and engaging in substance abuse generally. There is more work we can do on the public health side and the treatment side.

    Gil Kerlikowske is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

    No tirade about protecting our children. No alarmist claims about sky rocketing marijuana potency and devastating addiction potential. Just a few short paragraphs stating we are “in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana” and deferring to an interview with the President where he stated arresting marijuana users wasn’t a priority and that the laws were still being reviewed. While far from embracing an end to marijuana prohibition, the simple fact that America’s Drug Czar had the opportunity to spout more anti-marijuana rhetoric and instead declined (while giving credence to the issue by stating it is a serious national conversation) it’s at the very least incredibly refreshing, if not a bit aberrational. We can only hope that when the administration finishes “reviewing” the laws just approved by resounding margins in Washington and Colorado, they choose to stand with the American people and place themselves on the right side of history.

    “We the People” are already there.

    113 Responses to “White House: “We’re in the Midst of a Serious National Conversation on Marijuana””

    1. Bummer Oklajoma says:

      We the People have always been there. We won our freedom and our citizenship with the sacrifice of those who went before ! Thank YOU NORMAL for all your work and sacrifices,for you folks are some of the people who make life better for us all. This will be my last transmission my new location is off the grid! Good luck to all my brothers and sisters, its been real,its been fun, but sometimes, its not been real fun. A good life to all as sit on my mountian and lite one up for the rest of you!!!!

    2. james says:

      Funny how they talk to talk but never walk to walk. We’ll see what happens.

    3. Bradson says:

      The giggling has stopped!

    4. William says:

      So exciting. “The union” documentary brought me back from a demonized, self righteous view on cannabis after having quit for 9 years after high school. I’m not smoking now because of testing, but weed is a truly beautiful thing. I’ll trade it for alcohol any day.

    5. John k. says:

      Very interesting. Reading the title put butterfly’s in my tummy. My first response seeing the title, pointed to the nearing the end of prohibition. Looks promising. Prohibition must be undone. Am not gonna get my hopes to high though.

    6. phrtao says:

      I am still not sure what the federal government wants. Are they determined to win a propaganda war or are they just interested in arresting and imprisoning people. It seems that they don’t want to fight public opinion for the moment but that does not stop them harassing people the way they have been doing. I think they believe that the legalisation will be a failure and in the end this failure will support their extreme actions.
      Obama certainly must welcome an excuse not to enter the drugs bidding war that has characterised previous administrations where year after year we heard how much more money was being spent. The real problems will start when legal outlets begin selling marijuana in Colorado and Washington – the same sort of border issues that have complicated matters in the Netherlands will need to be faced. Maybe this is where the excuse to clamp down will come from.
      I hope I am wrong and they really are giving up the fight.

    7. rick says:

      thanx for all u do norml hopefully the politicians will finally listen and legalize marajuana instead of punishing users,legalizing is the only way to take the profits out of the black market.it has been terrible to have to worry about a drug test to keep a job especially when the person working with you wreaks of alcohol from the night befor

    8. mark says:

      Well, if they continue with the same bullshit status quo, regrettably, violent revolution will be the only solution left.

    9. Mike says:

      Great job NORML and all involved. Victory is near, and it has been a long time coming. There is still much work to be done, but all of those who have worked so tirelessly can sense the feeling of freedom, respect, and equality are returning to our country. Keep up the fight, never waiver.

    10. Buggsy13420666 says:

      The KING OF THE WHITE HOUSE has spoken and all the kings horses and all the kings men will not be able rebuild the WALL OF MARIJUANA PROHIBITION AGAIN. The gate has opened and the BARBARIANS are coming through. There will be another concept of SMOKE AND MIRRORS created by FEDERALISM to cover up the real truth of the benefits of marijuana even more. I can imagine that the seriuos national convesation will be based on the ORWELLIIAN MENTALITY of thought. OBEY! The 21ST CENTURY INQUISITORS are on HIGH ALERT. It’s time to put on the DARK SUNGLASSES and keep connected with the DARK SIDE OF THE MOON. HAIL TO THE MONARCHY!

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