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 Your aging hippie anecdotes, I might add, might be out of date because of the increased potency of today's pot (and MAPS wants Lyle Craker to make even more potent varietals!)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.