Washington, DC: Following the passage on Election Day of citizens' initiatives in Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana use for adults, United States Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske has for the first time acknowledged, "It is clear that we're in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana."
Kerlikowske made his public remarks this week on the White House's citizens' petition website 'We the People' in response to the question: Should the federal government "remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substance Act and allow the states to decide how they want to regulate it." Nearly 84,000 people had expressed their support for the question - making it among the top vote-getters of any petition on the website.
The Drug Czar reaffirmed that "the Justice Department is reviewing the legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington" and that President Obama believes "[W]e're going to need to have a conversation about how ... you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it's legal."
Commenting on Kerlikowske's response, NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri said: "While far from embracing an end to marijuana prohibition, it is telling that America's Drug Czar had the opportunity to spout anti-marijuana rhetoric and declined to do so, while simultaneously stating that our nation is in the midst of a serious national conversation regarding appropriate cannabis policy. We can only hope that when the administration finishes reviewing the laws just approved by resounding margins in Washington and Colorado, they choose to stand with the American people and place themselves on the right side of history. We the people are already there."
For more information, please contact NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre, or NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, at (202) 483-5500.