President Obama Addresses Marijuana Legalization

Apr 01 2009 Published by under General Politics, Public Health, Science Politics

I"ve been following the doings of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) off and on. First there was the announcement of Gil Kerlikowske as the new Drug Czar, which pointed to a considerably more relaxed, harm-reduction type of approach to drug policy from Obama. Next I cam to the realization that Obama had reduced the Drug Czar from a Cabinet level position to something much lesser.
Checking out the ONDCP site today, I noticed a link in their policy news section:

President Obama Addresses Marijuana Legalization during Virtual Town Hall Meeting
The trial run of Open for Questions at the White House wrapped up with more than 3,606,000 total votes, and the President answered several of the most popular questions. During the meeting the President addressed marijuana legalization:

"THE PRESIDENT: Three point five million people voted. I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy

Obama then went on to tick of his arguments for legalization including the savings on imprisonment of those incarcerated for "holding a joint", the "clearly racist" differences in arrest and prosecution for minor possession charges and the potential upside of legalizing and taxing the huge gray market in marijuana production and trafficking.
I thought this a bit odd so I"ve been emailing the few people that I know at NIDA, the DEA and within the ONDCP and the word is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Obama is entirely serious about a total sea-change when it comes to drug policy and it looks as though marijuana decriminalization is on the table. DEA scheduling people have been asked to "look into the evidence" for down-scheduling cannabis and it looks like they are going to immediately back off of poor Lyle Craker (and his handlers at MAPS). The policy folks at FDA are scrambling to see how this can be accomplished given our international responsibilities. Although as one person put it (off the record) "Of course the states will be able to do whatever they like but we expect California and Oregon at the very least to go full-legal".
The response at NIDA is nigh on unprintable, as you might imagine.
Look, this is a stone cold disaster. As you know, cannabis is an addictive drug that leads to withdrawal effects not much different from those associated with nicotine. Your aging hippie anecdotes, I might add, might be out of date because of the increased potency of today's pot (and MAPS wants Lyle Craker to make even more potent varietals!)
Not cool Obama, not cool at all.

17 responses so far

  • luke says:

    I just can get over how thick skulled you are on this issue. You state how cannabis withdrawal is similar to nicotine to make to seem dangerous and yet you fail to recognize that nicotine is LEGAL. Your stance on cannabis prohibition makes no sense unless you also advocate for the criminalization of alcohol and nicotine. Since you are a scientist I point you to http://blog.mpp.org/?p=454 which is a study suggesting that alcohol is more damaging to adolescent brains than cannabis.
    please be consistent and either start advocating for alcohol and nicotine prohibition or lay off the anti-legalization of cannabis.
    your point about cannabis potency is a red herring. more potent pot means you can smoke less of it to obtain the same effect. it is actually better than cannabis is more potent since you can reduce the amount of unwanted inhaled combustion products. it is like saying beer is less intoxicating than vodka. people drink until they reach a certain level of inebriation. 1 oz shot equals one 12oz beer equals 8 oz glass of wine i think.
    how can someone as apparently intelligent as yourself be so foolish?

  • DrugMonkey says:

    please be consistent and either start advocating for alcohol and nicotine prohibition or lay off the anti-legalization of cannabis.
    If you have a good rationale for why these are related and not independent political policy issues, I'm all ears. I imagine Obama and Kerlikowske can use all the high quality scientific, political and public health arguments you can muster in their efforts to shift policy.

  • Alex says:

    I assume that this is an April Fool's post.

  • Angela says:

    Slightly off track comment: I've read / seen some public science outreach thing before that somehow correlated Marijuana usage and onset of schizophrenia... I don't think its and established fact (from what I can recall) and by established I mean widely agreed to be true in the scientific circles (and I am far from this field so don't know). I'm wondering if you know if this is infact a valid concern? I'd image related health risks like this would be of some interest to the policy implementers in your country.

  • Oscar says:

    Why are you lying? Obama never even as so much gave any hint he was for the legalization of marijuana during the online town hall. As a matter of fact he said it was not a good strategy to grow the economy and was not in favor of legalization. Where are you getting all these lies from? Your misinformation is what's wrong with the war on drugs, you give the same old lies and add more on top of them, if you are a scientist I feel sorry for this nations educational system and future. I do hope that if anyone person reads this that they would be smart enough to actually research this before parroting your lies!
    I do hope though that this is an April fools joke!

  • SouthernFriedSkeptic says:

    Being someone who has in the past used both nicotine and marijuana (although at separate times in the past) I have to disagree with your comparison. I know it is a data point of one, anecdotal, and all that, but when I was young I went through a phase where I smoked marijuana several times a week, in the evenings, and mainly because I didn't like hangovers. As I got older, and took on more responsibilities, I quit. Not consciously, but just sort of got busy with life, started a family, career, etc... and didn't even really notice that several years had passed since I smoked it. Haven't had an urge to do so again, and besides, wouldn't compromise the aforesaid family and career.
    I also quit smoking. It turned be into a liar, almost cost me my job and one was by far one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I become depressed and irritable, and though chemically I should be free, I still get occasional urges for a cigarette that are barely resistable. I don't even think of marijuana unless the conversation is brough up. I quit without even realizing it.
    Hard to imagine they are similar.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Hard to imagine they are similar.
    And do you realize that it is hard for those who are not addicted to such obviously harmful drugs as nicotine to imagine why on earth any sensible person wouldn't just quit taking drugs? And hard for those who have had transient depression to understand why those with major depression can't just sack up and snap out of it?
    It is this generic inability to get past the arrogance of our personal experiences that causes such demonstrable harm in getting parity for the so-called mental and behavioral health disorders.

  • Though I admire and respect Obama and despite the fact that I understand the reasons why he would play down a divisive issue like “immoral” drug use, I believe that he should be held responsible to use the same meaningful insight and common sense honesty to issues surrounding America’s drug war. When Obama was elected he chose to highlight the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln during his inauguration. Lincoln lead the country through one of its most difficult and divisive times. The civil war is remarkable because it pitted brother against brother and displayed to history the inhumane brutality that we as Americans are capable of inflicting on one another when fall on opposing sides of a powerful ideology. There are many similarities between the war on drugs and that civil war of old. With the war on drugs American is once again pitted against American in battle wrought with bloodshed and human suffering. It is time we as Americans exercise our collective control of government and write, email or call a representative and make the drug war an issue to be dealt with now rather than a lingering pain to be laughed off and prolonged until…….
    SunflowerPipes.com

  • blogger who studies thc says:

    Angela:
    there are significant correlations between cannabis use and age of onset of schizophrenia. it appears the endocannabinoid system and cb1 receptors are involved, but we do not yet really have a solid mechanism as to how.

  • pothead says:

    i love pot

  • Zack says:

    The fact that you claimed marijuana to be addictive (assuming you mean physically addictive) at all demonstrates your complete lack of knowledge on the subject.

  • Cashmoney says:

    To save us all a lot of FWDAOTI time- do tell the source of your special knowledge which flies in the face of the science Zackie. Lemme guess- you and your half dozen closest buds can stop whenever you want right?

  • Lea says:

    Or his love of lying Zack.
    Here's the short list of: Health Organizations Supporting Immediate Legal Access to Medical Marijuana
    International and National Organizations
    AIDS Action Council
    AIDS Treatment News
    American Academy of Family Physicians
    American Medical Student Association
    American Nurses Association
    American Preventive Medical Association
    American Public Health Association
    American Society of Addiction Medicine
    Arthritis Research Campaign (United Kingdom)
    Australian Medical Association (New South Wales) Limited
    Australian National Task Force on Cannabis
    Belgian Ministry of Health
    British House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology
    British House of Lords Select Committee On Science and Technology (Second Report)
    British Medical Association
    Canadian AIDS Society
    Canadian Special Senate Committee on Illegal Drugs
    Dr. Dean Edell (surgeon and nationally syndicated radio host)
    French Ministry of Health
    Health Canada
    Kaiser Permanente
    Lymphoma Foundation of America
    The Montel Williams MS Foundation
    Multiple Sclerosis Society (Canada)
    The Multiple Sclerosis Society (United Kingdom)
    National Academy of Sciences Institute Of Medicine (IOM)
    National Association for Public Health Policy
    National Nurses Society on Addictions
    Netherlands Ministry of Health
    New England Journal of Medicine
    New South Wales (Australia) Parliamentary Working Party on the Use of Cannabis for Medical Purposes
    Dr. Andrew Weil (nationally recognized professor of internal medicine and founder of the National Integrative Medicine Council)
    State and Local Organizations
    Alaska Nurses Association
    Being Alive: People With HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego, CA)
    California Academy of Family Physicians
    California Nurses Association
    California Pharmacists Association
    Colorado Nurses Association
    Connecticut Nurses Association
    Florida Governor's Red Ribbon Panel on AIDS
    Florida Medical Association
    Hawaii Nurses Association
    Illinois Nurses Association
    Life Extension Foundation
    Medical Society of the State of New York
    Mississippi Nurses Association
    New Jersey State Nurses Association
    New Mexico Medical Society
    New Mexico Nurses Association
    New York County Medical Society
    New York State Nurses Association
    North Carolina Nurses Association
    Rhode Island Medical Society
    Rhode Island State Nurses Association
    San Francisco Mayor's Summit on AIDS and HIV
    San Francisco Medical Society
    Vermont Medical Marijuana Study Committee
    Virginia Nurses Association
    Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington, DC)
    Wisconsin Nurses Association
    Additional AIDS Organizations
    The following organizations are signatories to a February 17, 1999 letter to the US Department of Health petitioning the federal government to "make marijuana legally available … to people living with AIDS."
    AIDS Action Council
    AIDS Foundation of Chicago
    AIDS National Interfaith Network (Washington, DC)
    AIDS Project Arizona
    AIDS Project Los Angeles
    Being Alive: People with HIV/AIDS Action Committee (San Diego, CA)
    Boulder County AIDS Project (Boulder, CO)
    Colorado AIDS Project
    Center for AIDS Services (Oakland, CA)
    Health Force: Women and Men Against AIDS (New York, NY)
    Latino Commission on AIDS
    Mobilization Against AIDS (San Francisco, CA)
    Mothers Voices to End AIDS (New York, NY)
    National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual And Transgender Association
    National Native American AIDS Prevention Center
    Northwest AIDS Foundation
    People of Color Against AIDS Network (Seattle, WA)
    San Francisco AIDS Foundation
    Whitman-Walker Clinic (Washington, DC)
    Other Health Organizations
    The following organizations are signatories to a June 2001 letter to the US Department of Health petitioning the federal government to "allow people suffering from serious illnesses … to apply to the federal government for special permission to use marijuana to treat their symptoms."
    Addiction Treatment Alternatives
    AIDS Treatment Initiatives (Atlanta, GA)
    American Public Health Association
    American Preventive Medical Association
    Bay Area Physicians for Human Rights (San Francisco, CA)
    California Legislative Council for Older Americans
    California Nurses Association
    California Pharmacists Association
    Embrace Life (Santa Cruz, CA)
    Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
    Hawaii Nurses Association
    Hepatitis C Action and Advisory Coalition
    Life Extension Foundation
    Maine AIDS Alliance
    Minnesota Nurses Association
    Mississippi Nurses Association
    National Association of People with AIDS
    National Association for Public Health Policy
    National Women's Health Network
    Nebraska AIDS Project
    New Mexico Nurses Association
    New York City AIDS Housing Network
    New York State Nurses Association Ohio Patient Network Okaloosa AIDS Support and Information Services (Fort Walton, FL)
    Physicians for Social Responsibility - Oregon
    San Francisco AIDS Foundation
    Virginia Nurses Association
    Wisconsin Nurses Association
    Health Organizations Supporting Medical Marijuana Research
    International and National Organizations
    American Cancer Society
    American Medical Association
    British Medical Journal
    California Medical Association
    California Society on Addiction Medicine
    Congress of Nursing Practice
    Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
    Jamaican National Commission on Ganja
    National Institutes of Health (NIH) Workshop on the Medical Utility of Marijuana
    Texas Medical Association
    Vermont Medical Society
    Wisconsin State Medical Society

  • DuWayne says:

    The fact that you claimed marijuana to be addictive (assuming you mean physically addictive) at all demonstrates your complete lack of knowledge on the subject.
    The fact that you used the phrase "physically addictive," demonstrates your complete and utter ignorance about addiction Zack.
    Lea -
    Or his love of lying Zack.
    Here's the short list of: Health Organizations Supporting Immediate Legal Access to Medical Marijuana

    Which says absolutely nothing about whether or not cannabis carries the potential for addiction. I am an ardent supporter of medical cannabis - I even helped grow some in Portland. I am an ardent advocate for legalization for recreational use (I support legalizing most illicit drugs). I also recognize that cannabis carries a fairly strong potential for addiction. Just because it doesn't have the same level of acute dependence that heroin does, doesn't mean it isn't addictive. And recognizing it carries a fairly strong addiction potential, doesn't preclude supporting legalization.

  • ME :) says:

    Okay , I'm an eighteen year old and I EVEN KNOW marijuana isn't addictive . So you look like a dumb fuck and don't know what you're talking about . :]

  • 1st Amendment says:

    Your all a bunch of fucking idiots! Who in the fuck do any of you think you are to judge what is right for someone else? The only thing that any of you fuckers need to be sticking your nose into is your own buisness! I will be praying for the end of this world, whether it be by a nuclear bomb or the state putting me into an electric chair. All of you can kiss my fucking ass!

  • anthony adams says:

    Man i think that you should just ligalize the shit already to get all this fuss out of or state. and i think that it is fucked up that you can go to the stores and you can sit there and buy bongs, i mean come on who the fuck use the bongs for tobaco im pretty sure nobody sits there and buys a fucking huka and sit there and smoke tobaco out of it they are going to sit there and get high as a mother.

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