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White House

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director December 14, 2012

    Breaking his silence on the topic of marijuana legalization since two states approved ballot initiatives to regulate cannabis, President Barack Obama addressed the issue in an interview with Barbara Walters this week.

    While the administration’s broader policy is still being developed, the president stated that arresting recreational users in these states would not be a priority.

    “We’ve got bigger fish to fry. It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal. – President Obama

    The president also clarified that he personally is not in favor of leglization, but that it is a more complex issue than his own view on it:

    “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?” – President Obama

    One line stands out as particularly interesting, during his answer he says:

    “What I think is, that at this point, in Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. – President Obama

    This is a great start and an encouraging sign that the federal government doesn’t intend to ramp up its focus on individual users. Though considering it is extremely rare for the federal government to handle possession cases (only a few percent of annual arrests are conducted by the federal government), and that this is the same stance he took on medical cannabis before raiding more dispensaries than his predecessor, his administration’s broader policy will be the one to watch and according to his Attorney General Holder that pronouncement may come soon. Speaking yesterday in Boston, Attorney General Holder stated that:

    “There is a tension between federal law and these state laws. I would expect the policy pronouncement that we’re going to make will be done relatively soon.” – Attorney General Eric Holder

    UPDATE: Politico has now posted President Obama’s interview for viewing. Check it out below.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director December 12, 2012

    According to Rolling Stone: “There are not many friends to legalization in this administration,” says Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida who served the White House as a top adviser on marijuana policy. In fact, the politician who coined the term “drug czar” – Joe Biden – continues to guide the administration’s hard-line drug policy. “The vice president has a special interest in this issue,” Sabet says. “As long as he is vice president, we’re very far off from legalization being a reality.”

    Really?!

    We’ve got a decidedly baby boom president and former leader of the Choom Gang as the so-called elected leader of the free world, but reform of cannabis prohibition is supposedly being held up by the World War II era-influenced, and current self-described “drug warrior” Joe Biden?

    Let’s send a clear message to President Obama to sensibly pay attention to public polls and election vote totals regarding the tenor of America quickly moving away from the failed eight decade-old federal cannabis prohibition and embracing logical public policy alternatives–notably taxing and regulating cannabis products in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco products–and NOT to his stodgy, longtime prohibitionist and disconnected Vice President.**

    Please sign this White House petition here.

    **Joe Biden, when he was a Senator from Delaware, led the Democrats’ efforts in the 1980s to try to rebuff longtime and successful Republican efforts to paint Democrats as ‘being soft on crime and weak on drugs’ by helping to create the Office of National Drug Control Policy (AKA Drug Czar’s office) and inserting into its mission statement one of the most anti-democratic and anti-free market charters of all time in a government bureaucracy.

    According to Title VII Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998: H11225:

    Responsibilities. –The Director– […]

    (12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that–

    is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
    has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;

     

     

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director December 9, 2012

    [Update: By 1:15PM (eastern) the 25,000th signature put this White House pardon petition for Chris Williams over the top. Thank you!]

    At the dawn of the cannabis legalization epoch that was ushered in on election night when the commonsense-minded voters of both Colorado and Washington elected to end cannabis prohibition in their respective states, let’s not forget that the criminal justice system in the United States is still chewing up the lives of another cannabis consumer, seller or cultivator every thirty-eight seconds in America (based on approximately 760,000 annual cannabis arrests).

    Almost 25,000 of our fellow citizens concerned with this kind of expensive and wasteful injustice have signed a White House petition asking President Obama to pardon Montana medical cannabis provider Chris Williams, who is currently facing a potential eighty year federal prison sentence.

    This presidential pardon petition is getting very close to the 25,000 signatures needed to be acted upon by the Obama Administration, please take a moment, sign the petition and send the clear message to President Obama and his staff: Stop arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating citizens involved in state-sanctioned medical cannabis programs!

    Thank you in advance!!

     

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 25, 2012

    [Editor’s note: The infamous Chinese animators at New Media Animation (NMA) poke some good fun at America’s first known cannabis connoisseur president,  ‘Barry’ Obama. Watch animation here.]

    New insight into the early life of Barack Obama has been recently made available in the form of excerpts from the forthcoming biography, “Barack Obama: The Story.” Apparently young Barry Obama, like countless of his contemporaries, enjoyed partaking in the use of marijuana. The president even was a trendsetter amongst his peers:

    As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.”

    Along with TA, Barry popularized the concept of “roof hits”: when they were chooming in the car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.

    He also was unafraid to go against proper smoking protocol:

    Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind.

    What is clear from these anecdotes is that not only did Barry Obama try cannabis, but he was what many would refer to as a recreational user, a “stoner” if you will. Which begs the question, when exactly did Barry Obama, who participated in three foot bong hitting contests, become President Barack Obama, who laughs off the issue at town hall meetings, oversees the annual arrest of 850,000 Americans for marijuana violations, and ramps up the war against medical marijuana to new heights?

    It is time the President says publicly what he already knows personally: Responsible marijuana use should not be a crime and it is time we put an end to the war on cannabis consumers.

    Read more marijuana related excerpts here.

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director April 17, 2012

    Over 300 economists have signed on to an open letter to the President, Congress, Governors, and State Legislators asking them to allow this “country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition.” The petition states that the undersigned “believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods.”

    Notably, three of the economists who have already signed on are Nobel Laureates. Three hundred plus additional economic scholars have already signed on, you can view the list and more details here. Full text of the petition letter is below:

    We, the undersigned, call your attention to the attached report by Professor Jeffrey A. Miron, The Budgetary Implications of Marijuana Prohibition. The report shows that marijuana legalization — replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation — would save $7.7 billion per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement and produce tax revenues of at least $2.4 billion annually if marijuana were taxed like most consumer goods. If, however, marijuana were taxed similarly to alcohol or tobacco, it might generate as much as $6.2 billion annually.

    The fact that marijuana prohibition has these budgetary impacts does not by itself mean prohibition is bad policy. Existing evidence, however, suggests prohibition has minimal benefits and may itself cause substantial harm.

    We therefore urge the country to commence an open and honest debate about marijuana prohibition. We believe such a debate will favor a regime in which marijuana is legal but taxed and regulated like other goods. At a minimum, this debate will force advocates of current policy to show that prohibition has benefits sufficient to justify the cost to taxpayers, foregone tax revenues, and numerous ancillary consequences that result from marijuana prohibition.

    You can view media coverage of this effort here.

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