Let’s face it, Obama has been a let down for the marijuana movement. Even though his Justice Department took measures to lay off medical marijuana states with the release of the “second Cole Memo” in 2013, a memo outlining acceptable behavior in legal marijuana states, his administration has done nothing to end the prohibition of marijuana federally by rescheduling the medically valuable drug, either with an executive action or demanding direct action from Congress to change the law.
In fact, before the memo was released, the crackdown under his administrations was every bit as severe as his predecessors. Obama has taken the bull by the horns on a number of controversial issues, including health “insurance” reform, gay marriage, gays in the military, and now even our non-relationship with Cuba, once considered a taboo subject, even buy most liberals.
Additionally he has worked for equal pay for women, fought against voter suppression, and supports a pathway to citizenship for immigrants. So, why not marijuana? After all, Obama was a regular marijuana user while at Harvard, even as he headed the prestigious Harvard Law Review.
His experience with marijuana was personal and direct, very different from the issues that he has championed. He likely never struggled with affording health insurance, ever wanted or needed to travel to Cuba, and obviously never had to “come out” as a gay man. Now over half the states allow medical marijuana and 4 states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized and allow adult use for those over 21.
After the fast approaching 2016 general election, some estimates are as high as 10 legal states and 36, or more, medical states. Even through their own www.whitehouse.gov website, the pressure is on for him to act. One of the top “We The People” petitions offered to the administration is for the removal of marijuana from the CSA.
The petition, along with a few others, have received more signatures than most other petitions on the site, with over 83,000 signatures. Obama has said previously he does not have the power to reschedule cannabis, but that is not really true. In fact, drugs listed on the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) can be moved, added, or removed with a request from the Attorney General of the United States, who is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the President.
So, technically, he doesn’t actually have the authority, but his most trusted “employee” does! To be more specific, at the very least the Attorney General can take action by sending a request to reschedule to the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The Attorney General could easily start the ball rolling. From the CSA (Sub chapter I, Part B; Sec 811): “The Attorney General shall apply the provisions of this subchapter to the controlled substances listed in the schedules established by section 812 of this title and to any other drug or other substance added to such schedules under this subchapter.
Except as provided in subsections (d) and (e) of this section, the Attorney General may by rule— (1) add to such a schedule or transfer between such schedules any drug or others substance if he— (A) finds that such drug or other substance has a potential for abuse, and (B) makes with respect to such drug or other substance the findings prescribed by subsection (b) of section 812 of this title for the schedule in which such drug is to be placed; or (2) remove any drug or other substance from the schedules if he finds that the drug or other substance does not meet the requirements for inclusion in any schedule. (b) Evaluation of drugs and other substances The Attorney General shall, before initiating proceedings under subsection (a) of this section to control a drug or other substance or to remove a drug or other substance entirely from the schedules, and after gathering the necessary data, request from the Secretary a scientific and medical evaluation, and his recommendations, as to whether such drug or other substance should be so controlled or removed as a controlled substance.
In making such evaluation and recommendations, the Secretary shall consider the factors listed in paragraphs (2), (3), (6), (7), and (8) of subsection (c) of this section and any scientific or medical considerations involved in paragraphs (1), (4), and (5) of such subsection……” (c) Factors determinative of control or removal from schedules In making any finding under subsection (a) of this section or under subsection (b) of section 812 of this title, the Attorney General shall consider the following factors with respect to each drug or other substance proposed to be controlled or removed from the schedules: (1) Its actual or relative potential for abuse. (2) Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known. (3) The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance. (4) Its history and current pattern of abuse. (5) The scope, duration, and significance of abuse. (6) What, if any, risk there is to the public health. (7) Its psychic or physiological dependence liability. (8) Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter.
Unfortunately, this methodical approach would take a while, and even longer than Obama’s remaining 2 years in office. An incoming President could derail the whole thing, especially if they are not a fan of medical marijuana. That would be a bad scenario, and Obama knows it. But, the Attorney General could take immediate action, as an “emergency” action, and reschedule it right now. He could direct the Dept. of Health and Human Services to proceed with a thorough analysis of the drugs scheduling and provide evidence to support the change as required under the act. This, of course, would be a bold and decisive move, and, Obama knows that, as well.
Only Obama and his closest advisers know what they will do, if anything. My guess is that he will do nothing. Since he said he wants Congress to act, he has exposed his intention to do nothing. After all h couldn’t get congress to agree that shit stinks, so it’s an easy excuse to do nothing. Also, it’s not something he wants forever attached to his legacy….”the President that legalized weed”.
My hope is that marijuana legalization becomes a integral plank in a major party candidate’s platform in the upcoming 2016 general election, bringing it to the forefront and finally opening the debate. I know we will finally win the battle if we can begin a truly open debate on marijuana nationally.