President Obama recently spoke to Rolling Stone about his exit from office. During the interview, he shed light on what he thinks future drug laws should look like. Furthermore, he believes current drug laws are unsupportable. As someone who went from pothead to POTUS, Barack Obama can’t say with integrity that weed should remain illegal. Fortunately, on his way out of the oval office, he’s speaking for drug reform. During the interview, the president suggested treating weed like “cigarettes and alcohol.”
Actions Speak Louder Than Words
In the past, Obama said for pot, that it was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” He also told Bill Maher, “I think we’re going to have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws generally.”
It looks like he made good on that promise during his Rolling Stone interview.
“Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” President Obama claimed. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”
Obama Points the Finger at DEA
If you’re wondering what reason Obama has for not changing federal drug laws himself, he answers that as well. “Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict,” he said, “but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”
As we’ve seen recently, the DEA had a chance to reschedule marijuana and chose not to. Citing reasons such as no “accepted medical use” of cannabis. However, the lack of accepted medical use is due to the current federal laws. So, it’s obvious the DEA isn’t ready to drop it’s cannabis enforcement program, which seized over $27 million of assets in one year of marijuana-related cases alone.
Marijuana Advocates Disappointed
Advocates of marijuana legalization think Obama’s words for Rolling Stone were too little too late. “It would have been very helpful if he had taken more concrete positive action on this issue before it was almost time to vacate the Oval Office,” Tom Angell of the group Marijuana Majority said. “That this president didn’t apply pressure on the DEA to reschedule marijuana this year will likely go down as one of the biggest disappointments of the Obama era.”
Barack Obama wasn’t very vocal about his marijuana stance when the DEA was deciding whether or not to reschedule marijuana. As a result, there are no signs of the DEA rescheduling marijuana soon. Especially with president-elect Trump filling his cabinet with opponents of marijuana legalization.
One thing he has done for legalization efforts is to create a policy allowing states to legalize marijuana. However, legal cannabis companies will continue to get raided as long as marijuana is federally illegal.
Before his presidency, he had a memoir fully detailing his days as a pot-smoking teenager. Being President seems to keep Obama from being as vocal about marijuana as he wants. In fact, in the Rolling Stone interview, Obama said he “will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where” we need to go with the future of marijuana in America.