In a recent interview, a senior adviser to Barack Obama said the president plans to do "nothing" in regard to federal marijuana policy during his final two years in office. In the opinion of one prominent cannabis advocate, such inaction is precisely the wrong way to go.
The comments in question came as part of an interview involving the Huffington Post's Sam Stein and Dan Pfeiffer, senior advisor to the president for strategy and communications.
As noted in a Marijuana.com piece by the Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell, Pfeiffer was asked during the conversation if Obama would endorse legalizing cannabis before leaving office.
"He's done two things on this," Pfeiffer replied. "One, the attorney general has dealt with sentencing disparities with focus, and we have given, within the constraints we have, appropriate deference to the states of Washington and Colorado. And we don't have anything additional planned on that.... Nothing."
Angell notes that Mike Liszewski, director of government affairs at Americans for Safe Access, called Pfeiffer's comments "disappointing." Liszewski would like to see Obama "continue the current federal trend toward ending the crackdown on state marijuana laws."
When contacted by Westword, Angell goes further. He specifically references the possibility of the federal government dropping its insistence upon including marijuana in the category of Schedule 1 narcotics -- a designation for substances said to have "no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision and a high potential for abuse" according to the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Diversion Control.
"While it's not surprising that Pfeiffer didn't reveal any plans when asked here," Angell writes, "I do hope that the President will get around to using his executive authority to reschedule marijuana before he leaves office.
"President Obama has already made on-the-record comments about the failure and unfairness of marijuana prohibition enforcement," Angell continues, "and if he really believes what he says, he has a moral imperative to make the law match up with his views, with the science and with what the majority of the American people want."
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.