MPP is pleased to announce the release of our annual list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Consumers” in the United States!
President Barack Obama is at the top of the list, followed by several 2016 presidential candidates. At least eight (and as many as 17) of the 23 major-party presidential hopefuls have said or strongly indicated that they have consumed marijuana: Jeb Bush, Lincoln Chafee, Ted Cruz, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Bernie Sanders, and Rick Santorum.
Nine others do not appear to have said whether they have consumed marijuana, and they did not respond to inquiries from MPP: Joe Biden, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, Bobby Jindal, Martin O’Malley, and Jim Webb. Only six candidates have said they never used marijuana: Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry, Donald Trump, and Scott Walker.
The list is intended to identify individuals who have used marijuana and achieved high levels of success or influence. It was created using the same criteria employed by Out Magazine to produce its "Power 50” list of LGBT Americans, such as “power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and a person’s media profile.” To qualify for MPP’s list, individuals must (1) be alive, (2) be a U.S. citizen, and (3) have consumed marijuana at least once in their life according to either their own account or that of a legitimate source. They do not need to currently consume marijuana or support marijuana policy reform.
This Sunday, President Obama is expected to voice his support for allowing medical marijuana and moving away from jailing people for drug abuse.
The Daily Caller reports:
In a CNN special to be aired on Sunday, not only will President Barack Obama state his full support of medical marijuana, he’ll also advocate for alternative models of drug abuse treatment which don’t involve incarceration.
The television special, called “Weed 3,” features CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who came to support medical marijuana after reviewing the evidence. This time around, he’ll be delving into the politics of medical marijuana research and interviewing President Barack Obama, according to an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Obama has previously predicted that more states will follow the lead of Washington and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana, and confirmed that although marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, the Department of Justice will look the other way.
Gary Johnson, this year’s Libertarian Party candidate for president, spoke at a rally on Tuesday outside the Democratic National Convention. He criticized both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for avoiding one of the nation’s most important political issues. Obama has laughed off or ignored persistent questions about marijuana legalization, while Romney is equally dismissive, calling the issue insignificant.
During his two terms as governor of New Mexico, Johnson established himself as the highest-ranking public official to call for a dramatic shift in the nation’s drug laws. He explains that during his two terms, he applied a cost-benefit analysis to every issue. Regarding costs of the war on drugs, he has cited the United States’ world-record incarceration rate and the fact that approximately half of current criminal justice expenditures deal with drug cases.
On his campaign website, the former governor also refers to the harms of alcohol prohibition and the parallel harms of current drug prohibitions, including the enrichment of organized crime and the associated violence. The site clearly states his support for legalizing marijuana, specifying that the federal government should “end its prohibition mandate” and allow the states to determine their own policies. This is one area where he agrees with former Republican presidential contender and libertarian icon Ron Paul, to whom he has compared himself and whose supporters he may be courting. Although he does not explicitly call for legalization of other drugs, he does refer to drug abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice problem, making reference to the decriminalization which is in effect in Portugal and presenting it as a model for the U.S. to consider.
Johnson’s support in national polling remains quite low, and his name has often been omitted from the polls. It is likely that he will be excluded from the presidential debates, which does not bode will for his chances of ultimately winning the presidency. However, Johnson is the most prominent advocate of drug policy reform in the race and is expected to be on the ballot in all 50 states. Support of even 5% puts him at the top of the pack of third parties, as it dwarfs the best-ever presidential results for both the Libertarian Party itself and the Green Party, whose candidate Ralph Nader won 2.7% in the 2000 elections. His position in the race not only makes him a significant figure in the drug policy reform movement, but should work to raise public awareness of the issue and to improve the prospects for real reform.
"When I ran for this office, I pledged to make government more open and accountable to its citizens. That’s what the new We the People feature on WhiteHouse.gov is all about – giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them." - President Barack Obama
Here are 12 marijuana policy related petitions currently on the White House We the People petition page:
- Give States the Freedom to Establish Their Own Marijuana Laws.
- Stop denying the medical value of cannabis (marijuana.) Remove it from schedule one of the controlled substances act.
- Release all known beneficial information regarding cannabis (hemp, marijuana) and its derivatives.
- End the destructive, wasteful and counterproductive "War on Drugs".
- Remove Marijuana from the Schedule 1 list of drugs in the Controlled Substances Act.
- Allow United States Disabled Military Veterans access to medical marijuana to treat their PTSD.
- Eliminate or Reform Departments whose Officers are Required by Law to Lie to the American People.
- Pardon Marc Emery.
- Allow Industrial Hemp to be Grown in the U.S. Once Again.
- Stop Interfering With State Marijuana Legalization Efforts.
- Legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana.
- Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.
To donate, please visit https://www.mpp.org/donate
The failure of marijuana prohibition and its inherent hypocrisy are certainly becoming clearer than ever these days, and the discussion is starting to include some pretty big names. The report released by the Global Commission on Drug Policy two weeks ago is evidence of that, and the discussion is spreading to others.
The last three U.S. presidents have admitted to using marijuana, and it did not stop them from going on to lead successful lives. This is largely attributable to the fact that they were not arrested for it, but they have still owned up to it publicly. Now, a former president is standing up and declaring that the drug war must end.
Yesterday, Jimmy Carter, former president and life-long humanitarian, wrote in the New York Times that the time to end the war on drugs had come. He suggested following the advice of the Global Commission, a major facet of which was the need to end marijuana prohibition.
Let’s hope that some leaders who are still unconvinced listen to him. If not, the rest of us are prepared to keep shouting about the necessity of marijuana reform until they do.
From the Huffington Post:
In watching the evolving hubbub around President Obama's statement about drug legalization on Youtube on January 27, when he said, "I think this is an entirely legitimate topic for debate, [but] I am not in favor of legalization," I'm reminded of December 7, 1993.
Sitting at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., someone at my table asked U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders if she would support legalizing drugs as a way of curbing drug-related violence. Her now-famous answer was this: "I do feel we'd markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized. I don't know all the ramifications, but I do feel we need to do some studies. Some other countries that have legalized drugs, they certainly have shown that there has been a reduction in their crime rate, and there has been no increase in their drug rate."
New to the fake conservatism of D.C., I was surprised at the national outcry that resulted. For days, political commentators and newspaper editorial boards pulled their hair out, incredulous that President Clinton's top physician would say something so "irresponsible."
Compare that knee-jerk reaction with today's public response to a similar remark, except this time it's the actual president who made the remark. There's much less outcry today, and many people are actually criticizing Obama for not going farther and declaring that at least marijuana should be legal.
The differences between the two events and the surrounding discussions show how far politicians, the political chattering class, and the public have matured in just 17 years. Indeed, public support for making marijuana legal was only 25% back then, but now it's 46% -- a rise of 1.4% per year.
While I'm glad the president is favoring debate -- rather than shutting down debate, as his predecessors did -- the rest of his response was fairly disappointing. Here are my major criticisms of the president's approach to this debate ...
-- Public Health Problem: He also said, "I am a strong believer that we have to think more about drugs as a public health problem." By definition, removing something from the sphere of criminal justice requires legalizing or decriminalizing it. If Obama really believes this, then why continue to treat marijuana use as a crime? For example, eating gobs of cheeseburgers and eggs is widely considered a public-health problem, but no one is arguing that such consumers should be arrested. And it should be noted that cholesterol kills more people in America every year than have been killed by marijuana use in all of recorded history.
-- Obama, the Criminal: Obama is a former user of marijuana and cocaine, so to oppose the legalization -- or at least the decriminalization -- of drugs like these is hypocritical. If he's unwilling to push for substantial drug policy reform, there's only one way out of the hypocrisy, and that is to turn himself in for arrest. Having never experienced the negative effects that a criminal record can have on getting an education or finding a job, it seems like he is willfully overlooking that if he had been one of the 800,000 people who are arrested for marijuana every year, he would probably not be where he is.
-- Shrink Demand: Obama dedicates most of his answer to talking about how we need to shift taxpayer resources from reducing the supply of drugs to reducing the demand for drugs. The ideal approach is not to use taxpayer money for either, and instead to let adults and private institutions decide for themselves how they want to handle drugs; but if money must be spent on one side or the other, clearly, the money should shift from law enforcement and interdiction to drug treatment and education. Continuing to arrest people for marijuana does nothing to reduce demand, and is one of the most expensive aspects of the drug war.
It's also worth noting that 100 of the top 100 questions from the public were about drug policy reform. You read that right.
It wasn't that long ago that discussing the legalization of drugs was akin to discussing whether it should be legal to dump toxic waste on the property line between your yard and your neighbor's yard: Both were such unpopular ideas that there was no need to feature either debate on TV or newspaper editorial pages.
Now, support or opposition to marijuana policy reform is a common discussion in the media and at the dinner table; it's now more akin to discussing school vouchers, with each side polling between 40% and 60%.
The marijuana issue is indeed legitimate, and with support for reform steadily climbing, it's definitely in the spotlight. But it won't be that way forever, so if you want to effect change while the wind is at our backs, you know where to find me.
The Obama administration issued guidelines today clearly stating that the federal government will not arrest medical marijuana patients or providers who comply with state law. This development is the most significant, positive policy change for medical marijuana patients since 1978.
According to Justice Department officials, the orders sent today to federal prosecutors, the DEA, and the FBI clearly state that medical marijuana patients and providers who are in compliance with state law should not be arrested or prosecuted by the federal government. This codifies statements made by the attorney general earlier this year.
The policy is a signal of support for medical marijuana from President Obama and the new administration. And the guidelines are exactly what MPP’s Aaron Houston asked for in a congressional hearing earlier this year.
Under the Bush administration, the feds raided, arrested, and otherwise terrorized medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. Even in the 13 states with medical marijuana laws, patients still lived in fear. With this new policy change, medical marijuana patients finally know exactly where they stand with the law and can focus on their health, not their legal status.
To help MPP build on this momentum, please write your member of Congress. We’ve set up an action item online to make this quick and easy. You can also help by sharing this blog post on Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and other social network sites online.
Two weeks ago, when drug czar Gil Kerlikowske told reporters that “marijuana is dangerous and has no medical benefit,” he also repeated a line he’s been using since taking the job as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy: "Legalization is not in the president's vocabulary, and it's not in mine."
This oft-repeated line (see an example here) is concerning to those of us who want President Obama making informed decisions about our nation’s marijuana policies. How can he discuss its merits if he doesn’t know the word?
To solve this problem, MPP has created a Web page that allows you to e-mail President Obama the definition.
It also lets you add a message about why you support ending marijuana prohibition. Go ahead and take action today, and help MPP arm President Obama with the knowledge he’ll need to make an informed decision about the future of America’s marijuana laws.
Yesterday, San Francisco supervisors formally condemned the March DEA raid conducted against a local medical marijuana facility, Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic. In a 9-to-2 vote, the board approved a resolution authored by Supervisor David Campos that calls for the immediate cessation of such attacks on medical marijuana in California.
The resolution calls on U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to provide clear direction to the DEA and federal judges and prosecutors on President Obama's new policy on medical marijuana. It also calls for the return of "improperly seized" property from the raids and the dismissal of all federal cases involving medical marijuana collective operators who acted in compliance with state law.
It's not surprising that San Francisco opposes the federal war on medical marijuana, but this casts even more doubt on the dubious DEA claim that agents raided the clinic in response to an apparent violation of state law. To date, there have been no arrests linked to the raid and no specific allegations about state law violations have been made.
Voting on change.org’s “Ideas for Change in America” came to a close today with “Legalize the Medical and Recreational Use of Marijuana” coming in as the most popular idea. The top ten ideas will be presented to President-elect Obama during a press conference on Friday.
Change.gov, Obama’s official transition Web site, has twice opened up voting in a similar feature called “Open for Questions.” Each time, a question about marijuana policy reached the top ten. And each time, the transition team brushed off the question by simply stating that "President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.” It will be interesting to see how he responds this time, as the question includes medical marijuana, something Obama has been fairly supportive of in the past.
As of 5:00 p.m. today, the marijuana policy question had received 19,530 votes – 4,500 more than “Appoint Secretary of Peace in Department of Peace and Non-Violence,” which came in second on the list.
In addition, change.gov has opened voting in a new online forum called the “Citizen’s Briefing Book.” “Ending Marijuana Prohibition” is currently the most popular idea.