White House: “We’re in the Midst of a Serious National Conversation on Marijuana”

We the PeopleIn October of 2011, the White House issued an official response to a petition NORML submitted via their We the People outreach program on the topic of marijuana legalization. Despite being one of the most popular petitions at the site’s launch, the answer we received was far from satisfactory. Penned by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, the response featured most of the typical government talking points. He stated that marijuana is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment and that its use is a concern to public health. “We also recognize,” Gil wrote, “that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.”

Well, just over a year later, the White House has responded again to a petition to deschedule marijuana and legalize it. The tone this time is markedly different, despite being penned by the same man.

Addressing the Legalization of Marijuana
By Gil Kerlikowske

Thank you for participating in We the People and speaking out on the legalization of marijuana. Coming out of the recent election, it is clear that we’re in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana.

At President Obama’s request, the Justice Department is reviewing the legalization initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington, given differences between state and federal law. In the meantime, please see a recent interview with Barbara Walters in which President Obama addressed the legalization of marijuana.

Barbara Walters:

Do you think that marijuana should be legalized?

President Obama:

Well, I wouldn’t go that far. But what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you’ve seen the voters speak on this issue. And as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.

…this is a tough problem because Congress has not yet changed the law. I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about how do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal.

When you’re talking about drug kingpins, folks involved with violence, people are who are peddling hard drugs to our kids in our neighborhoods that are devastated, there is no doubt that we need to go after those folks hard… it makes sense for us to look at how we can make sure that our kids are discouraged from using drugs and engaging in substance abuse generally. There is more work we can do on the public health side and the treatment side.

Gil Kerlikowske is Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy

No tirade about protecting our children. No alarmist claims about sky rocketing marijuana potency and devastating addiction potential. Just a few short paragraphs stating we are “in the midst of a serious national conversation about marijuana” and deferring to an interview with the President where he stated arresting marijuana users wasn’t a priority and that the laws were still being reviewed. While far from embracing an end to marijuana prohibition, the simple fact that America’s Drug Czar had the opportunity to spout more anti-marijuana rhetoric and instead declined (while giving credence to the issue by stating it is a serious national conversation) it’s at the very least incredibly refreshing, if not a bit aberrational. 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.

113 thoughts

  1. Even though the U.S. Government is weaseling it’s way around Marijuana laws through taxation, they need to realize that it’s the only thing keeping them from legalizing Marijuana. Just lift the tax, and relax the economy. I dare the President to find a rebuttal!

  2. What does it all mean? I’m sure that the DEA will not back down. There are more unlimited executive orders in the Obama administration to be given out and it won’t be good. Such orders will be granted to vice-president Biden to attack citizens for holding on their constitutional rights. The insanity have already started on more gun control. The Obama administration and the cannabis prohibition affiliates will always fight back.
    After every terrorist attack, the second wave are always prohibitionist.

  3. The times are a changin’. Marijuana legalization is on the minds of the people and politicians, war on drugs may soon be over, and you can actually buy stock in medical marijuana companies. Looking forward to see what 2013 holds.

  4. @ Joel,

    I suppose I’m more hopeful on this matter than you are. Like Erik Altieri says, Kelikowske’s response this year is far different from last year. Perhaps he’s seen the writing on the wall, or perhaps the President is beginning to see the nation’s support changing.

    I cheer any change of attitude in the administration, and hope that it’s sincere.

    BTW, who says gun control is insanity?

  5. We can only hope the governments wisen up and legalize marijuana. From all the research I have read they dont have a leg to stand on. People who drink alcohol dont always have the best ideas and I hate to say it but Obama and Biden both drink alcohol.

  6. I am so lost when it comes to this. People have used it for a long time, and we know our country was founded on it, and 2 states have declaired freedom from the overbearing CSA of the 70’s from a president that was impeached.
    I am guessing that maybe all the politicians are staying at a Holiday Inn maybe these days. All joking aside the Federal had made Economic sanctions against the people for beliefs that dont exsist any longer. We can look backwards and declair as much war as they want but the truth is I believe even the government has forgoten what it’s fighting for.

    Has anyone ever wondered why if its illegal to drink and drive, why is there is a parking lot in front of the bar? lets face it we as humans make mistakes on how thins are regulated , but we fix and learn as we go. The younger generations are the ones willing to educate themselves, leaving behing the fear that what lies beyond the edge of the forest is going to eliminate us. Meaning the older generations were taught differently. My Grandmother past away last year (GRHS) and until the day she died she thought all blacks were the notorious “N” word. This is because whe came from a time when this was and til the day she died this is how she believed. That being said ….this is the kind of situations that still hold back the cannabis population.
    Mitch Hedberg said a guy asked him once if he wanted to see a picture of him when he was younger, he replied aren’t all pictures of you when your younger?
    My point is that were made to believe that certian cannabis is bad for you and will kill you ,…..but arent we all going to die someday?..there is no drug or food or liquid that will make us live forever. but there is medicine like cannabis that will make the time we have here easier for some and ,life saving for some , and with everything available isnt cannabis one of the least harmfullest of them all?
    These are just my opinoin’s , but i feel that they are also alot of Americas as well.
    We can be fearful of a lot of things , Cannabis shouldn’t be one of them.
    Thanks for reading

  7. Alchohol has destroyed my family , weed helps me cope with this fact , my only alternative is to be medicated with benzodiazepans , I don’t want to feel like a criminal for using weed anymore.

  8. *SERiOUS NaTionAl ConVersation AboUt MarIhUana*

    Thats a good sign,a message of hope for all
    of us.Last time Obama was asked about marihuana he just laughed and made jokes of it all.
    Now its serious man.

  9. If the only stipulation about marijuana being legalized was that alcohol and cigarettes were illegal, I’d support it in a heartbeat.

  10. Marijuana should be legal in all 50 states. If you want to get the Cartel, CIA, Drug Dealers, and Gangs out of the marijuana business, marijuana needs to be legalized in all 50 states. No restrictions except that you need to be 21 or older.

  11. Yesterday, in about 10-15 minutes, had been a few big pharm commercials “3”, stating if you take this, side affects are internal bleeding, can’t pee, you might die taking this, might lose a leg, your heart might pop out of your chest, the sun will over cook you, eyes might fall out, loss of hearing, you might go blind, if you experience any of these side effects, please stop taking “blah, blah, blah”. These are for sleeping and depression they say. How in the fucking world is this shit aloud and FUCKING MARIJUANA IS ILLEGAL???????????? I get so fucking upset, this shit should be ended today.

    I am so fucking fed up. BAH

    Wanna ring the necks of these assholes.

  12. Sure, recall the famous phrase from mr. Wolf in pulp fiction, you “lets not start s…” You know the rest. The fascists have one person tell you bullshot while the dea closes three more mmj dispensaries in so cal. And sentences a dispensary owner to ten years in jail. So much for serious conversation.

    Legalize it and tell the Feds to find something else to do, like bust meth labs..

  13. Reading that message, from the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, one of the 20+ prohibition fed agencies created after Nixon and his stoolpigeon A.G. John Mitchell fabricated a invented a scheduling system that is not based on empirical evidence; is not scientific.

    They’re trying to say, to paraphrase, that if the will of the people will not allow the continuation of unnecessary and barbaric public policy regarding cannabis in particular….there will still be a need to control the vultures and peddlers of the other schedule 1 drugs, heroin, meth, etc.

    This is a red herring. Regulate all of the drugs. Stop referring to the bogeyman degenerate who will well crack to 2 year-old hype stories.

    Drug dealers don’t card. Regulate so everything is carded. If people are stupid enough to take the what are potentially dangerous “drugs” and this includes pharma with prescription, then SO BE IT. But regulate so kids can’t have access, just like they can’t walk into a pharmacy and pick up an order of oxycontin, morphine, and a case of beer.

    Keep pretending to chase the bad guys who want to kill all the children. Prohibition creates the bad guys who are desperate for the lucrative profits made from sales of contraband

  14. While the govt is pretty much operating under the idea that the are in complete control and we (the people) have generally been lethargic on responding and typically just pay a little lip service to support the things we are in favor of. Call it sheep, cattle, follow the leader, socialists, communism or any other label and at the end of the day, those things we let go, are still gone. STAND UP for the things YOU as an individual believe in!! AMERICANS WE HAVE LOST a lot of freedoms and ideals this country let’s not let another govt lie like prohibition make it any further!!
    Once you see the terminally I’ll resPonding to a plant not MEDS, the Picture becomes pretty damn clear! We have

  15. While the govt is pretty much operating under the idea that the are in complete control and we (the people) have generally been lethargic on responding and typically just pay a little lip service to support the things we are in favor of. Call it sheep, cattle, follow the leader, socialists, communism or any other label and at the end of the day, those things we let go, are still gone. STAND UP for the things YOU as an individual believe in!! AMERICANS WE HAVE LOST a lot of freedoms and ideals this country let’s not let another govt lie like prohibition make it any further!!
    Once you see the terminally I’ll resPonding to a plant not MEDS, the Picture becomes pretty damn clear! We have But ONE LIFE… Stand up for yourself to make yours the Best you can?? PrOhibition and otherwIse!!!!

  16. I’m with Fool4Songs.
    They same bs comes out of there moths every time. Trying to associate Pot with the other crap that’s out there. Mean while it’s fine to get hammered and driver your car through a living room or smoke cigarettes till you die of lung cancer or emphysema. There is no war on drunks or smokers cause they have that locked down like making guns. Control is there only concern and you can’t control pot and they know it. I would grow my own instead of buying it if I could. There are already Co/Ops in every neighborhood. The war on drugs/Pot is there money maker. They keep funding it and say it creates jobs. Yea for creeps that steal your shit and smoke it them selves. Cops, school bus drivers, air plain pilots and Judges should be tested as well as doctors. Not the kids that work at Target or school kids. Did you know there is financial incentive put on these Establishment (target) to be a drug free environment. For what. You don’t want a stoned kid stocking shelves. It’s stupid! I say legalize it all and let the bodies fall where they may.

  17. The federal government should let the people vote on this matter/legalize or not, instead of wasting so much time and money and building prisons around “the people”. We could use a lot less prisons and police.

  18. Oh it’s “serious” alright. They know they are losing and are preparing for a massive smear campaign. and if that fails (there’s actually a chance it will fail this time) they will try to play it off with “new studies show that…” crap.

    Now is the time to push harder then ever… I hope we don’t fail again..

  19. Did you notice that there wasa a gun troll or two among the commentators?

    Don’t be fooled, read the statistics on gun murders per year. Compared with cannabis zero fatalities (in the case of “suspected cannabis related” traffic accidents, ask, combined with what? If HBOM hot burning overdose monoxide joints and blunts are replaced by 25-mg one-hitter vape tokes, those will disappear).

    Consider this: the root cause of gun violence is America’s favorite disease, DEPRESSION. Kids sitting like “stones” hours in front of a screen– tv, movie or video– vicariously indulging in gun violence are DEPRESSIVES indulging in their favorite false relief, mania.

    The “stoner” myth about cannabis is based on DEPRESSIVES indulging in a carbon monoxide combustion cocktail and sittin’ around telling you the cannabis did it. The crazy talk and munchies is the mania flavoring. If masses of such “consumers’ learn how to use cannabis intelligently (on rising mornings or before Serious National Handwork) interest both in “entertainment” pastimes and in GUNS will shrink, which is what the video merchants and the NRA BOTH DON’T WANT. I looked up prices on some guns– one place selling Glock pistols at $600-$800 each– follow the money. Think how much more $$$ they will get if W. LaPierre has his way and there’s an armed guard in each school. Pack-a-day $igarette addict– $3000-$4000/year depending how much bribe (“tax”) money the governments local, state, federal take.

    Follow the money and you will see who hates cannabis.

  20. Legalize it. All of it. End of conversation.

    We voted for Change, we wanted the anti-Nixon, let’s have it.

  21. This is my response to the identical letter as you printed above:

    LATEST UPDATE: PLEASE PROMOTE WITHOUT DELAY! This petition is over a day old and has 21 signatures, the threshold for this petition to be “publicly searchable” is 150 signatures so the urgency now is to get 129 more signatures to reach that threshold.


    There were 173,185 signatures (combined there may be duplicates) on the three petitions that were responded to from the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The one I signed was to Federally Legalize Marijuana which started 11/8/12 – after the election and specifically mentioned the voter results from the states of Washington and Colorado, that petition received 44,049 signatures before it was closed. Each of those three did indeed require legislative action to accomplish the substance of the petitions.

    What is unique about this current petition is that it lists specific actions that can be taken by the Executive branch WITHOUT legislation.

    Again, please don’t delay to sign ASAP and promote with URGENCY of the deadline of 2/10/13 to have 25,000 signatures!


  22. @ eveningbud
    Well the second amendment of the U.S. Constitution says that gun control is illegal. The ninth amendment says that “these rights must not be construed” or as I see it insanity.

    The legalization of cannabis in Washington and Colorado is just the start. The feds will fight but we must not lose hope for a better future for this country.

  23. For us in Asia, there are so many Hindus not in India who don’t know about their religious right as a Hindu and how sacred ganja is for them. Like in Malaysia, the Hindus there don’t even know what even ‘bhang’ lassy is, and any Hindu or anyone else caught with a substantial amount of ganja faces the death penalty. As a result of this many Hindus are hang. Set Bhang/Ganja Free Pretty Please and visit my site:-http://thetunku.blogspot.com/

  24. The fact that Obama used the term “hard drugs” is encouraging too (and I bet Kerlikowski advised his boss that doing that is a bad idea) because so far, the government has claimed all drugs are bad, period. In fact they are even claiming marijuana as a hard drug with its schedule 1, while cocaine has the absurd beyond belief label as “safer” at schedule 2.

  25. There is absolutely no need for Congress to change the law, as it pertains to hemp being rescheduled or even removed from the Controlled Substance Act of 1970. Whereas, there has always been a provision within the Act that empowers the United States Attorney General (USAG), the Presidents subordinate, as the sole authority to make such decisions; reference, 21 USC Sec. 811 (a) (2).
    It’s about oil and always has been! Industrial hemp is big oil’s arch nemisis and always will be. Our government is corrupt.

  26. The prosecution of Matthew R. Davies by federal attorney Wagner, as discussed in today’s NY Times, appears to be exactly the case that can be used to stir widespread protest against continued federal opposition to state legalization. NORML should start a campaign to send letters to Obama and Wagner on this specific case. I think it could viral on facebook and elsewhere. The NY Times has given you the start, are you going to follow up on it or let it wither?

  27. I’m glad to see that the falsely so-called concern for harmful side effects has been dropped as well. I have always thought that this was a spurious argument given the lists of harmful side effects listed in commercials for prescription drugs during the evening news. Take for instance the statin drugs for treating high cholesterol, most are hepatatoxic (liver damage). Yet, I’ve actually heard doctors say they want all of their patients on them! It boils down to what those in power are convinced are priorities and how those are presented by the pharmaceutical industrial complex. There’s a great deal of money involved and we should be very alert to what transpires on that level. The federal drug schedules are very susceptible to changes occuring at the corporate level. And while I’m not completely convinced that the corporate interests are actively subverting democratic processes, I think we need to be wary.

  28. Chris, Cocaine is a schedule two material. What do you suppose you get when you’re teeth are pulled? Sure it is not called “coke”, but it really any different?

    By law, marijuana is a schedule four material or lower. It does not cause drug abuse which is the only reason it is placed in schedule. A fairy tale that says marijuana somehow, magically turns one into an addict of other drugs.

  29. This is my reply to their response. Please go to this petition, read, sign and promote.

    What is unique about this current petition is that it lists specific actions that can be taken by the Executive branch WITHOUT legislation.

    Again, please don’t delay to sign ASAP and promote with URGENCY of the deadline of 2/10/13 to have 25,000 signatures!


  30. Its no wonder so many are seeing the War on Drugs (people) as a terrible policy. When you arrest 800,000 people a year for decades you’ll reach a saturation point where nearly everyone knows someone effected by these terrible laws.

    Adults should have the right to choose whether they want to smoke marijuana, drink alcohol, smoke cirgarettes, ect… Its about personal freedoms.

    If people suffering from illness have a better quality of life because they can smoke marijuana, more power to them.

    Let America be a shining example of freedom rather than a Country that keeps its citizens down.

  31. Can you believe in this day and age we are still fighting over a Plant….a plant….grows naturally. Yet some Pharm company can go about mixing and matching til their hearts content and it kills people..but that’s good,no problem.

    It should never have been illegal…and it needs to be legal and give the people their choice if they want to smoke it, grow it, or wipe their ass with it….period.

    or maybe we should just make tomatoes , cucumbers, and many various plants illegal.

    Lets see….get caught growing tomatoes….. that’s it 20 yrs to life.

    all I can say is F**ing A..holes need to STOP this BS..

    I think everyone should just sit in their front yard smoking and let them come arrest you until the jails are so full there is nowhere else to put people.

  32. Lets set a certain day as “American Smoke Out Day” where everyone just sits outside smoking and holding a sign that reads….GO F yourself government..we’ve had enough.

  33. The Prez sez that there is a discrepancy between state law and Federal law. The answer is simple. Maintain the ban on Federal property:(T.V.A., Military bases, Federal Offices, etc.)and allow the states to dictate their own legislature within their own jurisdiction. Nuff said.

  34. Just look up the names Harry J. Anslinger,his uncle Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, and newspaper titan William Randolph Hearst on this issue. It will become clear why the law is policy.

  35. The biggest argument used against legalization is that marijuana leads to addiction yo harder drugs. Think about that. The worst problem with this.drug is.that it leads to other drugs, how insane is that. The truth is the only reason this argument exists is because of prohibition. If people didn’t have to meet illegal drug dealers to get their pot, they would not be near as likely to advance to other drugs. the sad thing is all these people that are complaining of government regulations on guns are predominately for prohibition. If republicans were consistent on their beliefs they would win every election held. now we can wait and see if they will learn.

  36. Well, when the hell are you going to ask for a Shafer report like Marijuana, A Signal of Misunderstanding, not the same but more modern? Get the committee to recommend all federal funding for enforcing cannabis prohibition be cut, and it be legalized. The plant’s out of the Schedule altogether, personal cultivation allowed like totally hassle-free same as growin’ tomatoes, melons, corn in a little victory garden, no permit, no other hassles.

    People just got to mellow out. Now we got this thing going on with the guns flyin’ off the shelves. Now there’s more firepower on the streets. Now all the gangs… Move the profit motive above ground and legalize it.

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