Obama and Trump: Decriminalization of Marijuana

During an interview with Rolling Stones Magazine-President Barack Obama makes his views on Marijuana decriminalization well known.

Obama states that cannabis, despite all of its benefits should also be treated as a public-health issue, just as are cigarettes and alcohol, I think that most of us agree with this opinion.

This interview really helps send a message to Trump, especially now during a difficult time in the cannabis community.  The nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions for the position of U.S. Attorney General worries all in the community that are for the legalization of marijuana, as it is well known that Jeff Sessions does not agree.

In August 2013, the Obama administration announced that it would not sue to stop Amendment 64, the ballot measure that legalized limited recreational marijuana sales in California. Also there was a memo issued under the name of Deputy Attorney General James Cole announcing that the Justice Department would stay clear, and not hinder the legal cannabis businesses in states with regulated marijuana businesses, such as in Colorado.

Obama on the cover of the latest Rolling Stone edition.

Obama on the cover of the latest Rolling Stone edition.
Courtesy of Rolling Stone

 

“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” he said, noting, “The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”

Obama then went on to explaining, with the drug policies in general “we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem. It’s been counterproductive and it’s been devastating in a lot of minority communities. It represents the possibility of at least unequal application of the law…. The good news is, we’re starting to get some interest among Republications as well as Democrats in reforming the criminal justice system.”

Adding: “There’s just a smarter way of dealing with these issues.”

Here’s that interview:

Another quote from the interview :

“If you survey the American people, including Trump voters, they’re…in favor, in large numbers, of decriminalizing marijuana,” Obama said. “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.”

He then reminded us that as far as the DEA and their tactics, long used against marijuana “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, it is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a twenty-year prison sentence in another. So this is a debate that is now ripe, much in the same way that we ended up making progress on same-sex marriage.”

We need to keep in mind, with prop 64 passing it’s still no time to relax. The new administration’s cabinet creates buzz talk of the possibility of a crackdown on legal marijuana, as seen in Canada a few months ago, in places such as Colorado regardless of Trump’s statements about respecting states’ rights in such situations.

 

A statement from the Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell:

“While President Obama’s comments are correct, and we certainly appreciate how he gave room for states to set their own policies during his administration, 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,” Angell writes to Westword via e-mail. “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.”

Angell continues to say:

“There is still time to help people who are suffering under drug policies that President Obama correctly criticizes. He could, for example, effectuate blanket commutations of sentences for people who are serving time behind bars for nonviolent drug crimes for no good reason whatsoever. Now, more than ever, it’s time for President Obama to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk.”

Right now, we have no idea which way the Marijuana industry may go, with Colorado and California in the spot light, lets all work together to make legalization an obvious positive thing.