The longer the federal government waits to tell Colorado and Washington whether it will allow the states to determine their own marijuana policy after each passed pot-reform measures, the more theories surface about who in the administration might prove to be an impediment. The latest involves Vice President Joe Biden, thought to be a hardliner against weed -- and it's prompted a White House petition asking him to back off. See it and get details below.
The document can be found on We the People, a White House website that allows citizens to create petitions to the Obama administration and promises a response if they collect 25,000 signatures within thirty days. The text is featured later in this post.
Why target Biden? The answer can be found in "Obama's Pot Problem," featured in the current issue of Rolling Stone. The article, which explores the political pressures on Obama to either move to preempt retail provisions in Colorado's Amendment 64 and Washington's Initiative 502 or allow them to move forward, highlights Biden in the following passage:
"There are not many friends to legalization in this administration," says Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida who served the White House as a top adviser on marijuana policy. In fact, the politician who coined the term "drug czar" -- Joe Biden -- continues to guide the administration's hard-line drug policy. "The vice president has a special interest in this issue," Sabet says. "As long as he is vice president, we're very far off from legalization being a reality."
Also prominently featured in the piece is Mason Tvert, one of A64's main proponents and newly minted spokesman for the national Marijuana Policy Project; he's dubbed "Kid Cannabis" because he was just 22 when he launched his successful 2005 campaign to get Denver to remove criminal penalties related to adult use of marijuana. Tvert was troubled enough by the assertions about Biden's views on marijuana (expanded upon in this Huffington Post report) that on Monday, he began pushing the petition, entitled "Tell VP Biden to end his war on marijuana users and to respect the people of Colorado and Washington." At this writing, it's gathered more than 8,500 signatures and has until January 9, 2013, to meet its goal in order to prompt a White House response.
When asked about the rationale behind the petition, Tvert says, "We certainly think Barack Obama should not be steered away from following the will of the voters in Colorado and Washington by our vice president."
Adds Tvert: "If the people in Colorado want to end marijuana prohibition and stop funneling money toward gangs and cartels, then we don't see why our vice president should have a problem with that course of action.
"When it comes to marijuana, Vice President Biden is behind the curve, and behind the cartels, as opposed to getting behind the people of Colorado and Washington."
In Tvert's view, the response to the petition thus far has been strong, and he hopes the rising number of signatures lets Biden know he and the administration "should work with our states to implement these policies. We hope the vice president won't be dictating to the President what the federal response to these initiatives should be."
Here's the complete text of the petition:
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Tell VP Biden to end his war on marijuana users and to respect the people of Colorado and Washington
On November 6, the people of Colorado and Washington state passed ballot measures to make the possession of marijuana legal for all adults and to regulate the sale of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
Sadly, on Dec. 7, the New York Times reported that top level officials in the Obama administration are conspiring to undermine these historic victories.
Worse, an article published on the same day in Rolling Stone magazine indicated that a ringleader for this anti-marijuana activity is Vice President Joe Biden. A former top White House drug policy advisor was quoted in the article saying, "As long as [Biden] is vice president, we're very far off from legalization being a reality."
This is wrong. Mr. Biden should end his war on marijuana users and respect the voters of CO and WA.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: DEA takes nine months to brush off Colorado's reschedule-pot request."