In a move that has disappointed many in the cannabis community, President Obama made it clear that he does not plan on working toward any sort of marijuana law reform in his last year as president.
During the House Democratic retreat in Baltimore this past week, Tennessee Representative Steve Cohen asked President Obama whether or not he had any plans to reschedule cannabis, moving it from its current classification as a Schedule 1 controlled substance to something less serious.
Cohen reported that Obama’s answer was “disappointing.”
“On marijuana, he gave the same answer as when I asked him seven years ago: ‘If you get me a bill, and get it on my desk, I’ll probably sign it,'” Cohen said.
This response made it clear that Obama has no intentions of using his presidential authority to initiate the move to reschedule cannabis, instead placing the impetus for making any changes to marijuana law entirely onto Congress.
Obama’s position was reaffirmed yesterday when White House press secretary John Earnest said that any marijuana reform pursued during 2016 would need to come through Congress rather than out of the Oval Office.
“This isn’t the first time President Obama has unnecessarily tried to pass the buck on marijuana rescheduling to Congress,” Tom Angell, Project Oversight and Communications Director at Marijuana Majority, told reporters.
“It’s unacceptable and frankly embarrassing for a president who has so nonchalantly acknowledged his own marijuana use to allow the federal government to continue classifying cannabis in such an inappropriate category.”
The question of whether or not cannabis should be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance has been a longstanding debate.
According to the DEA’s website, Schedule I substances are “the most dangerous drugs . . . with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”
This classification includes things like heroin, while the Schedule II category—presumably reserved for drugs less dangerous than those in Schedule I—includes things like cocaine and meth.
Cannabis activists have long challenged the claim that marijuana is as dangerous as heroin, and last fall DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg told reporters that “heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana.”
Despite the admission, no changes in the scheduling of marijuana appear forthcoming.
(Photo Courtesy of guardianlv.com)