When Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske responded to a White House petition on marijuana legalization in the fall of 2011, he went on and on about the “dangers” of marijuana and why there was no way legalization was going to happen. Fast forward a little over a year and two state recreational legalization victories later, and the same man is responding a little differently to another petition calling for legalization.
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.
We reported on the President’s comments here.
“Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.” This has been clear for some time Mr. Kerlikowske, you and your boss are just very late to the party and have been on the wrong side of this issue from the beginning. You are still on the wrong side, but it is encouraging to see some movement in the direction of being right.
“I guess it makes a difference when marijuana legalization gets more votes than your boss does in an important swing state, as happened in Colorado this last election. From ‘legalization is not in my vocabulary and it’s not in the president’s,’ as Gil Kerlikowske often used to say, to ‘it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana’ is a pretty stark shift,” said Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. “Of course, what really matters is to what extent the administration actually shifts enforcement priorities and budgets, but I sure do like hearing the US drug czar acknowledge the fact that marijuana legalization is a mainstream discussion that is happening whether he likes it or not.”
Officials in the federal government should welcome issues that they can leave to the states; in theory this would allow them to focus on federal issues of more importance, like the struggling economy or the hemorrhaging budget or the several wars we are still involved in. But in practice, most elected officials like power, and they want to decide on as many issues as possible.
Progress is slow, but it is progress just the same. The White House stills lags popular opinion on marijuana by quite a bit, but at least the are finally moving to close the gap.