He did not articulate any new policy positions for the administration, which was good, because Donald Trump entered the White House with the best position on marijuana policy of any incoming president in modern history. Most notably, he has repeatedly said that states should be able to establish their own marijuana policies, without contradiction. He has also expressed support for legal access to medical marijuana, which Spicer mentioned.
Nevertheless, several media outlets leapt to the conclusion that the federal government is surely planning an all-out assault on state marijuana laws. I was also surprised to see that allies within the marijuana policy reform movement were also contriving a fight where none exists. According to a hyperbolic statement from one allied organization, “Spicer declared war on much of the cannabis community yesterday when he announced the Trump administration intends to engage in the ‘greater enforcement’ of federal anti-marijuana laws.”
But Spicer did not “declare” anything. He was not proactively announcing a prepared, written policy on behalf of the Trump administration. Quite the opposite, he was reactively offering an impromptu, oral opinion on behalf of himself. Those are important distinctions.
You can read the rest of the article here.
White House Comments on Marijuana Policy; Poll Finds 71% of U.S. Voters Want Feds to Respect State Marijuana Laws
Just hours after a national poll was released showing widespread support for marijuana policy reform and staunch opposition to federal interference in state marijuana laws, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer caused a stir by making some comments about marijuana enforcement during a press briefing.
Specifically, he reiterated President Trump's support for legal access to medical marijuana, noting that the current budget prohibits the Department of Justice from interfering in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. He said that recreational marijuana use is a different issue and suggested there would be "greater enforcement" of federal marijuana laws in states that have more broadly legalized marijuana. It was unclear what he meant the federal government would be interfering in such laws or simply stepping up enforcement against individuals who are violating them. President Trump said during his campaign that marijuana law should be left to the states.
MPP issued the following statement in response to Spicer's comments:
“The vast majority of Americans agree that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws. This administration is claiming that it values states’ rights, so we hope they will respect the rights of states to determine their own marijuana policies. It is hard to imagine why anyone would want marijuana to be produced and sold by cartels and criminals rather than tightly regulated, taxpaying businesses. Mr. Spicer says there is a difference between medical and recreational marijuana, but the benefits of and need for regulation apply equally to both.
“Mr. Spicer acknowledged that the Justice Department is currently prohibited from using funds to interfere in the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. It is critical that Congress once again includes that provision in the next budget, and we are hopeful that they will also adopt a provision that extends that principle to all state marijuana laws.”
According to the Quinnipiac University Poll released earlier in the day, the vast majority of U.S. voters support making marijuana legal and think the federal government should respect state marijuana laws. The nationwide survey of 1,323 voters found that five out of seven voters (71%) — including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and every age group polled — oppose the government enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal for medical or adult use.
The Quinnipiac poll also found that 93% of voters support allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes and 59% support making it legal for all purposes. The results appear to be in line with national polls released by Gallup and the Pew Research Center in October, which found support for ending marijuana prohibition at 60% and 57%, respectively.
On Monday, President Obama announced the commutation of 46 prisoners who were convicted of non-violent drug offenses.
From The New York Times:
President Obama announced on Monday that he was commuting the sentences of 46 federal drug offenders, more than doubling the number of nonviolent criminals to whom he has granted clemency since taking office.
“These men and women were not violent criminals, but the overwhelming majority had been sentenced to at least 20 years; 14 of them had been sentenced to life for nonviolent drug offenses, so their punishments didn’t fit the crime,” Mr. Obama said in a video released on the White House Facebook page, in which he is shown signing the commutation letters. “I believe that America, at its heart, is a nation of second chances, and I believe these folks deserve their second chance.”
Mr. Obama’s action on Monday brought the total number of commutations he has issued to 89, exceeding that of any president since Lyndon B. Johnson, who commuted 80 sentences during his tenure. It also meant that he has commuted more sentences than the last four presidents combined.
While it is unclear how many of those people were in prison for marijuana charges, this is a good sign that the administration, and the greater public, is open to substantive drug policy and criminal justice reform.
Most marijuana arrests do not result in jail time, but the collateral consequences can be still negatively impact a person for life.
However, there are a number of people serving long sentences for nonviolent marijuana offenses, some of them for life. The Department of Justice needs to reexamine these cases immediately.
For more information on the recent commutation, visit Whitehouse.gov.
Every White House drug czar who has reigned since the office was created in 1989 makes numerous incorrect and deceitful statements.
But, I only like to rebut the czars’ nonsense when it really catches my attention, like the following statement today from Director Gil Kerlikowske ...
“The people that are involved in hoping to legalize drugs are very well funded,” he said. “They’re very organized, they have offices, they’re well supported, and with the push of a button, they can get as many signatures as they want, and we see that with a number of other special interest groups, so it’s not surprising.”
The drug czar’s office is formally known as the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Let’s do a quick comparison between MPP and ONDCP ...
Of course, MPP has allies whose annual budgets — combined — are about $15 million.
ONDCP has allies, such as the DEA, whose annual budget is $2 billion. And, unlike our team, the DEA has badges, guns, and jail cells to quash its political opponents.
I’d trade our resources for the DEA’s and ONDCP’s resources any day of the week. Deal?
Six National Drug Policy Organizations Call on President Obama to End Unnecessary Assault on Medical Marijuana Providers
In the wake of recent attacks on medical marijuana providers and patients by multiple branches of the federal government, including Monday's raids on Oaksterdam University in Oakland, CA, a coalition of six national drug policy reform organizations is appealing to President Obama and his administration to follow its own previously stated policies respecting state medical marijuana laws. In the letter, posted in full below, the organizations call on the Obama administration to bring an end to the federal government’s ongoing campaign to undermine state efforts to regulate safe and legal access to medical marijuana for those patients who rely on it.
The Obama Administration’s National Drug Control Strategy Report 2012, reportedly being released in the coming days, is expected to cling to failed and outdated marijuana policies which further cement the control of the marijuana trade in the hands of drug cartels and illegal operators, endangering both patients in medical marijuana states and citizens everywhere. The members of this coalition stand together with members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, current and former Latin American leaders whose countries are being ravaged by drug cartels, state officials from five medical marijuana states, and tens of millions of Americans in their call for a more rational approach to marijuana policy.
THE LETTER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA:
April 4, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington D.C. 20500
Via Fax: 2024562461
Dear Mr. President:
Our coalition represents the views of tens of millions of Americans who believe the war on medical marijuana patients and providers you are fighting is misguided and counterproductive. As your administration prepares to release its annual National Drug Control Strategy, we want to speak with one voice and convey our deep sense of anger and disappointment in your lack of leadership on this issue.
Voters and elected officials in sixteen states and the District of Columbia have determined that the medical use of marijuana should be legal. In many of these states, the laws also include means for providing medical marijuana patients safe access to this medicine. These laws allowing for the cultivation and distribution of medical marijuana actually shift control of marijuana sales from the criminal underground to state-licensed, taxed, and regulated producers and distributors.
Instead of celebrating – or even tolerating – this state experimentation, which has benefited patients and taken profits away from drug cartels, you have turned your back as career law enforcement officials have run roughshod over some of the most professional and well-regulated medical marijuana providers. We simply cannot understand why you have reneged on your administration’s earlier policy of respecting state medical marijuana laws.
Our frustration and confusion over your administration’s uncalled-for attacks on state-authorized medical marijuana providers was best summed up by John McCowen, the chair of the Mendocino County (CA) board of supervisors, who said, “It's almost as if there was a conscious effort to drive [medical marijuana cultivation and distribution] back underground. My opinion is that's going to further endanger public safety and the environment – the federal government doesn't seem to care about that.”
The National Drug Control Strategy you are about to release will no doubt call for a continuation of policies that have as a primary goal the ongoing and permanent control of the marijuana trade by drug cartels and organized crime. We cannot and do not endorse the continued embrace of this utterly failed policy. We stand instead with Latin American leaders, members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the vast majority of people who voted you into office in recognizing that it is time for a new approach on marijuana policy.
With approximately 50,000 people dead in Mexico over the past five years as the result of drug war-related violence, we hope that you will immediately reconsider your drug control strategy and will work with, not against, states and organizations that are attempting to shift control of marijuana cultivation and sales, at least as it applies to medical marijuana, to a controlled and regulated market.
Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)
cc: Eric Holder, Attorney General, Department of Justice
James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, Department of Justice
Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy
This should come as no surprise by now, but President Obama has once again failed to address questions about the need for marijuana policy reform in a public forum. Once again, this issue was among the most popular, but it seems that after laughter, disagreement, and capitulation, the president’s responses are wearing thin, and the question will no longer be asked or answered.
Last week, the White House asked for people to submit questions to be asked during a Google+ Hangout with the president. As usual, marijuana questions dominated the site. Unfortunately for the majority of Americans who support making marijuana legal, the popularity of this issue no longer matters.
Then MPP’s question suffered the same fate.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition spokesperson Stephen Downing submitted a video question that quickly became the second most popular on the site. During the forum, however, the folks at Google decided that the president had already answered their question in previous forums and opted to ignore the people and ask inane questions about midnight snacks and tennis instead.
The White House, of course, had nothing to do with the exclusion of a marijuana reform question (or so they say).
The time has come to demand real answers to these pressing questions, not jokes or simple platitudes. Marijuana prohibition is a failed policy that causes far more harm than good, and alternatives must be seriously discussed in open forums before this juggernaut can do any more damage.
It is time for the president to take this issue seriously.
New White House Petition: We Demand a Vapid, Condescending, Meaningless, Politically Safe Response to This Petition
Since the beginning of the White House’s “We the People” petition program, questions and requests about marijuana policy have dominated the site. Last week, the Obama administration lumped all of those detailed, nuanced questions together and answered them all by parroting the same old rhetoric. Very little in the way of an actual response was given to the questions, other than this: marijuana is dangerous and should remain illegal, but more research should be done on its medical properties.
This response is disingenuous, given the federal government’s repeated interference in medical marijuana research, including a recent denial of a study on the effects of marijuana on post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. It is also not an appropriate answer to the myriad policy issues addressed in the petitions.
Luckily, one Jon G from Michigan has started a petition that is sure to get an appropriate reply from the Obama White House:
Since these petitions are ignored apart from an occasional patronizing and inane political statement amounting to nothing more than a condescending pat on the head, we the signers would enjoy having the illusion of success. Since no other outcome to this process seems possible, we demand that the White House immediately assign a junior staffer to compose a tame and vapid response to this petition, and never attempt to take any meaningful action on this or any other issue. We would also like a cookie.
Today is the day to tell President Obama that you’re fed up with his broken promises and his attacks on medical marijuana providers. Please join thousands of Americans in a National Call-In Day taking place from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm ET.
As you no doubt have heard by now, all four U.S. attorneys in California announced on Friday that they plan to aggressively target state-legal medical marijuana providers for violations of federal law. With virtually no justification, the Obama administration is going to deny patients safe access to their medicine and force them back into the criminal market.
This new development is especially disturbing, considering President Obama’s previous position: In 2009, based on an earlier campaign pledge, his Justice Department issued a memo declaring that individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws would not be prosecuted. Now, the president has gone back on his word.
Please join supporters of medical marijuana everywhere by making a quick call to the White House and telling President Obama how you feel. Finally, pass this along to all your friends so that we can generate as many calls as possible in opposition to this new policy!
"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
President Obama held another public forum yesterday on Youtube, and once again the questions were dominated by concerns about our nation's drug policies. Many in the reform movement were worried that we would be ignored or laughed off again. Well, the President did respond:
We at MPP are pleased that President Obama is at least taking the issue of drug policy reform seriously. But his response is not much better than what President Bush might have said. Yes, we need to improve access to drug treatment and we need to focus on other options in the criminal justice system for first-time, non-violent offenders. But we need to have a far more serious discussion about the potential benefits of creating a legal, regulated market for marijuana.
It is time to end marijuana prohibition and it is inappropriate for the president to group that subject into an across-the-board opposition to "legalizing drugs."