I remember when Barack Obama was elected in 2008, I had so much hope that he would be the first President to end marijuana prohibition at the federal level. I thought that he would lead the way on rescheduling marijuana. After over six years in office, that has not happened. The President chuckled when asked if he would support marijuana legalization, and has dodged the rescheduling question as many times as he could, acting like only Congress has the power to reschedule marijuana.
To be fair, the President has taken a few steps in the right direction when it comes to marijuana policy, especially compared to his predecessors. However, it’s not enough. He could do so much more. According to an article posted by my friend Tom Angell on Marijuana.Com, the President has nothing planned for the future in this area of public policy:
“He’s done two things on this,” said Pfeiffer. “One, the attorney general has dealt with sentencing disparities with focus, and we have given, within the constraints we have, appropriate deference to the states of Washington and Colorado. And we don’t have anything additional planned on that… Nothing.”
Mike Liszewski, director of government affairs at Americans for Safe Access, called the comments “disappointing” and said there’s more the president can do to “continue the current federal trend toward ending the crackdown on state marijuana laws.” He praised a 2013 Obama Justice Department memo listing guidelines that states with medical marijuana or legalization laws can follow to avoid federal interference, but said “more action needs to be taken by the administration.”
As Tom alludes to in his article, it is possible that the member of the White House doing the interview didn’t want to show his cards, and that there could be something coming down the public policy pipeline during Obama’s last two years in office. I guess only time will tell, but if nothing more happens on marijuana policy via the White House in 2015 and 2016, that would be very disappointing.