Marijuana

On His Way Out the Door, Obama Suggests Marijuana Should Be Legal

The president plans to do something about it "as a private citizen."

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White House

In a new interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama comes as close as he ever has to endorsing marijuana legalization, saying, "I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But 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."

Tobacco and alcohol, of course, are not prohibited by state or federal law, so the implication is that marijuana shouldn't be either. But Obama apparently is waiting until he leaves office to say so explicitly:

I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go. But in light of these referenda passing, including in California, I've already said…that 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 20-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. There's something to this whole states being laboratories of democracy and an evolutionary approach. You now have about a fifth of the country where this is legal.

It sounds like Obama plans to push marijuana reform "as a private citizen." It's too bad he did not do more to advance the debate as president.

To his credit, Obama has declined to interfere with legalization, saying "it's important" that states be free to try a different approach. He has conceded that marijuana is less hazardous than alcohol, to the consternation of old-timey drug warriors like the man Donald Trump has chosen to be his attorney general. Last year Obama even allowed that "if enough states end up decriminalizing, Congress may then reschedule marijuana"—a step he described as "progress." But he has resolutely refused to encourage such progress through administrative rescheduling or by urging Congress to accommodate state marijuana laws.

Legislation making the national ban on marijuana inapplicable in states that have legalized it, as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) has proposed, would remove the threat of prosecution and forfeiture that hangs over state-licensed cannabis suppliers, give them unimpeded access to banking, and allow them to take the same tax deductions as any other business. Such legislation has the potential to attract support on the right as well as the left because it embodies the federalism that Republicans claim to revere. While Obama's endorsement would not have guaranteed passage, it would have elevated the issue, encouraged conservative constitutionalists to take a position, and left the cause of marijuana federalism in better shape to prevail under a new president who claims to support it but has chosen an attorney general who is dismayed by the ongoing collapse of pot prohibition.

In Obama's view, he has done all that could reasonably have been expected. When Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner asks why he did not take a stronger position on marijuana legalization, Obama implies that it was not politically feasible:

One of the things that I think it's important for progressives to do when we're in a reflective mode after an election like this is, we can't have it both ways. We can't say, "Why aren't you reaching out to the folks who voted against us? And by the way, why aren't you maximizing getting 100 percent for the things that those of us, you know, who are already progressive and living on the coasts think should be done right away?" The point is that politics in a big, diverse country like this requires us to move the ball forward not in one long Hail Mary to the end zone, but to, you know, systemically make progress.

It is weird to portray marijuana reform as a cause that only "progressives" support when most Americans—60 percent, according to the latest Gallup poll—think marijuana should be legal and an even larger majority—including 70 percent of Republicans, according to a recent CBS News survey—think state decisions to legalize should be respected. Far from a polarizing issue, marijuana federalism has bipartisan support and the potential to unite voters and politicians who agree on little else. Obama could have taken advantage of that agreement to promote an alternative to a situation he describes as "untenable." But although he eventually stopped laughing at questions about marijuana reform, it was never a priority for him.

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101 responses to “On His Way Out the Door, Obama Suggests Marijuana Should Be Legal

  1. “I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go.”

    Oh, I get it: so as soon as Trump is in office, that windbag is going to start whining that the evil, racist president won’t immediately use his authority to get marijuana de-scheduled.

    1. That is the most bizarre sentence…. as if the POTUS doesn’t have the opportunity to describe where he thinks we need to go.

      Maybe this guy was the Manchurian candidate all along.

      1. Obama has devolved so much power to private citizens he will certainly be more effective working as a community organizer than as president. Duh!

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      3. Maybe? 😉 Will Trump go digging for Barry’s birth certificate now?

        “The point is that politics in a big, diverse country like this requires us to move the ball forward not in one long Hail Mary to the end zone,…” Yeah, unless of course he had his phone and pen handy, in which case, Obungler was saying go way long mother fuckers so I can run it myself and spike it on your head in the end zone.

    2. There is also the constant lie that Obama has told that rescheduling is something that Congress does, and not something that the DEA does – an executive agency under the purview of the president. Its right up there w/ the fantasy Ive heard repeated over and over again that Obama “outlawed torture”.

      People thought they were getting a reformer when they voted for Obama. After 8 years I am still not sure who he is, but Im pretty sure Ive got it narrowed down to a diehard socialist whose sole interest is redistributing wealth & industry nationalization and who just doesnt give a fart about civil rights issues other than their value to bolster his approval rating, OR he does care about civil rights and he is such a sniveling coward that, after being invested with the most powerful office in the world, he is too cowed by the consequences of principled action to do anything but carry Team Blue’s must, crusty FDR battleflag while continuing & expanding outrageously awful policies that were put into place by prior administrations (see: the middle east, deportations, et al)

      1. a diehard socialist whose sole interest is redistributing wealth & industry nationalization and who just doesnt give a fart about civil rights issues other than their value to bolster his approval rating, OR AND he does care about civil rights and he is such a sniveling coward

        that he doesn’t accept accountability for anything. Bush’s fault, Republican obstructionism, bad luck, and racists, racists, racists all around.

      2. He’s a slacker grifter.

        Hell, look at his ‘signature’ accomplishments, thin as they are. Over the last eight years he hasn’t done a single bit of heavy lifting on anything.

        An empty suit who still has them largely fooled.

        1. Wait, that’s a good thing, isn’t it? When have libertarians started to criticize Presidents for not getting enough done? The less the better, unless they ate pardoning victimless crime perpetrators, deregulating shit, or pulling troops out of foreign countries.

          1. Yes, libertarians are entirely justified in criticizing any government official when the “not getting enough done” is “equivalent to failing to roll back government excess.” Even more so when that the official clearly describes it as such.

            Otherwise, is having a worthless POS like Obama in office a good thing because it means he won’t get anything done? No, I’d prefer we elect competent effective people who also understand the proper limits of their offices.

            That would be a good thing.

        2. Its not for lack of trying to socialist this place up!

    3. He, and the Democrats, have nothing to lose at this point. He should use his pen and phone to reschedule pot now instead of waiting until he’s powerless.

      1. This assumes that he cares at all about civil rights issues. This is the guy who drones American citizens without trial, wants to strip civil liberties from the people on his no fly aka enemies list, and has the NSA reading your emails. If a policy doesn’t expand the power of the glorious exalted state he isn’t getting behind it.

      2. Democrats care about a big police and nanny state. Drug, smoking and 1st Amendment prohibitions meets these ends.

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  2. won’t be around for morning links, so here’s an example of what “Bias in the Media” looks like. From the NY Times article about Trump’s announcement that Carrier will be keeping that plant in the good ‘ol USA.

    And just as only a confirmed anti-Communist like Richard Nixon could go to China, so only a businessman like Mr. Trump could take on corporate America without being called a Bernie Sanders-style socialist. If Barack Obama had tried the same maneuver, he’d probably have drawn criticism for intervening in the free market.

    And then

    Political symbolism aside, saving 1,000 Carrier jobs doesn’t loom so large in an economy that’s created an average of 181,000 jobs a month this year, noted Jared Bernstein, a liberal economist who served as adviser in the Obama administration from 2009 to 2011.

    Followed by:

    “If I weren’t so scared of the damage a Trump administration might do, I’d find it refreshing to see an administration fighting for factory jobs like this,” he said. “That said, no one should confuse what Trump is doing here with sustainable economic policy.”

    Remember, this is the news article that is telling us that Trump has already made good on his campaign pledge to fight to keep jobs like the Carrier factory from moving out of the US.

    1. You didn’t expect them to suddenly be fair in their assessments did you?

    2. Ok, so they tell about the tweet announcing it, get a quote from one worker and then immediately go to a Liberal Economist to get an anti-trump series of quotes. So who’s next?

      Over the long term, and for less prominent firms, the temptation to move to cheaper locales for manufacturing will stay great, said Robert Reich, a prominent liberal Democrat who served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration.

      Oh, well at least it is a big deal, right?

      While the standoff loomed large in the lives of its employees in Indiana, for United Technologies the forgone savings is tiny ? equivalent to about 2 cents per share in earnings.

      “Every penny counts, but if we step back and I’m looking at earnings of $6.60 per share this year, 2 cents is an easy concession if the president-elect listens to some of the company’s bigger concerns,” said Howard Rubel, a senior equity analyst with Jefferies, an investment banking firm in New York.

      Oh, so even though a couple of guys keep their job, it really didn’t cost Carrier anything and now they’ve bought off the President-elect. Nice take.

      All true, and the POTUS can’t make deals for every factory in the country. But somehow I doubt that the NYT would spend 90% of an article announcing some (D) accomplishment trashing the accomplishment. It is rare that media bias is this blatant, but Trump is a rare bird.

      1. They fail to realize that this kind of nonsense is why trust in the media is at an all time low which is why their profit margins are crashing through the floor. Better get used to it because they just can’t help themselves.

        1. New York Times Crimes

        2. I ended up watching the first couple of episodes of Black Mirror last night. It’s probably not a good sign for anyone that the only positive I saw in the first episode was the part where a journalist got shot.

    3. Expect the libtards and the fake media like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, etc. to keep up the propaganda. If I were Trump I would give white house press credentials to more than these propaganda houses. I would add the “alt-right” media as well as a host of other media like We Are Change and expand the press pool above and beyond the big globalist corporatists. Let them compete with the “alternative” media and let’s see what happens.

  3. So he comes out of the closet when there are no meaningful political repercussions for doing so? Truly a profile in courage. He really is a Goddamn spineless weasel-fuck him!

    1. He didn’t even really come out of the closet. He could deschedule cannabis today if he wanted to.

      1. That he could, with a stroke of a pen.

        1. Much -phemism. So, very, very, Eu-.

          1. As stroke of the pen is sufficient.

            1. Obama should send Malia to rehab. Or think about what would happen to her if she weren’t the POTUS’ daughter.

            2. Yeah, but he wants to buy a bunch of weed stock before he is able to successfully organize a schedule change.

  4. When it came to making law, Obama mostly just goes with the Democratic crowd. Even Obamacare was written by the Democrat Congress and lobbyists and Obama just signed it.

    Of topic but I wonder if Obama talked to Jan Wenner (Rolling Stones) about the evils of “fake news”

    1. Saw what you did there

      1. I would expect so. Your…kind…don’t have eyelids.

        Also, noted songster Bob Dylan’s little tune popped into my head whilst reading the piece WRT Obumbles:

        Ohh you’ve gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely

        But you know you only used to get juiced in it

        Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street

        And now you’re gonna have to get used to it

        You say you never compromise

        With the mystery tramp, but now you realize

        He’s not selling any alibis

        As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes

        And say do you want to make a deal?

        Ohhhhhh how does it feel? How does it feel?

        To be on yer own….no direction home…..

        Like a complete unknown….like a Rollin’ Stone

  5. What’s hilarious that prohibition (along with eugenics) was one of the first things “progressiveness” brought us.

    1. Of course, now they are on to other things to ban. Meat. Football. Christianity.

  6. Does “private citizen” mean President for life?

    1. More like His Pestilency, The Perpetual Royal Pain in Our Arse. Remember, Almighty Jeebs, he was not merely elected, but coronated. A scorching case of herpes will be less ubiquitous (and irritating).

    2. He’ll be like any other private citizen: full secret service detail, government provided office and staff, lifetime salary expense account. Just an ordinary guy.

    3. President Poindexter For Life

  7. 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 20-year prison sentence in another.

    …which is why he supports national reciprocity for public carrying laws, right?

    Why does anyone believe a word this asshole says? He had eight years to deschedule marijuana with his pen and phone; he had eight years to advocate for state control. Now he wants to talk about “laboratories of democracy”? GTFOH

    1. *reschedule

  8. It sounds like Obama plans to push marijuana reform “as a private citizen.”

    It sounds like he’s trying to look better in the eyes of the Rolling Stone reader without actually having to do anything.

    1. Very similar to how you ignore that bellowing prostate of ALL CAPS that frequently erupts, Fist of Comportment, trying to convince both the Dr. and yourself that a prostate the size of a Krispy Kreme is just dandy.

      Very. Similar.

      1. Maybe “a prostate the size of a Krispy Kreme is just dandy” as long as you have a nice fat sausage?

        1. I have it on good authority Fist of Minuscule is more of the Vienna variety. Which make sense since he’s really Austrian anyway. (He figures that ALL CAPPING will make him easier to understand.)

  9. That’s mighty white of him.

    He still has the pen and phone for the next two months right?

    1. He can’t find them, I guess. Unlike when he was deciding if he should bomb various foreign countries and American citizens.

  10. Really, he wants the best for us. If he hadden’t been shackled in the that powerless figurehead position for the last eight years, he’d have done good things for us. Emptied the jails. Ended the war on drugs.

    But remember, he freed the Gays.
    That’s what he’ll be remembered for.

  11. Wired how they always pretend they can do the things they can’t and can’t do the things they can. It’s almost like government is a farce,or something.

    1. *Weird.

  12. “My pen and phone aren’t omnipotent, you know.”

    1. Your pen is impotent, so you’ve said.

    2. These euphemisms are becoming flaccid.

      *Orders Ta-DA!-lafil, STAT!*

  13. So he’s gonna wait until he’s a powerless private citizen to pretend to try to do something he could do today with an executive order?

    The fuck?

  14. Pardon me for the bad language ..

    Fuck you Obama, at least have the decency to reschedule cannabis.

    Rant off.

    President Obama has contended that rescheduling marijuana is a job for Congress, while others rightly argue the administration has the authority to do so unilaterally. It is ironic that the president, who is so often criticized for overreaching his authority, is shrinking from the administrative power that Congress has granted him.

    http://tinyurl.com/gqgfhjq

    1. Other others argue that the Controlled Substances Act is, itself, unconstitutional and should have been struck down by SCOTUS decades ago. It only survives in a world where the Constitution is not viewed as an enumeration of powers.

      1. And viewed as an irrelevancy, as any professor of Constitutional law would.

    2. Suddenly Obama now understands division of powers within the federal government?

      1. Exactly!

        “To his credit, Obama has declined to interfere with legalization, saying “it’s important” that states be free to try a different approach. ”
        Obama has continued to send jack booted thugs to go after anything drug related that does not specifically have the sanction of a state in the Union. When states fight back, it can get messy. Citizens though? Fuck ’em.

  15. So, Obama is really that afraid of being responsible for this. That’s unconscionable. People are going to jail and he could stop it, says he wants to, but I guess he doesn’t like optics.

  16. The president plans to do something about it “as a private citizen.”

    I’m sure he does.

    Choomster in Chief is back in business, baby!

  17. Hey, the president doesn’t have the power to reschedule cannabis.

    That’s a power that’s strictly held by the Attorney Generala, a strictly non-partisan office, and bwa haha, yeah the president could literally use his pen and phone to legalize it if he felt like it. Obama just didn’t feel like it. Suck it Hippies.

  18. What a fucking worm.

    1. You spelled ‘cunt’ wrong.

      It still kills me to hear the proggies in my life worship this guy. This piece of shit who continues to put people in cages over a fucking plant.

      Cunt.

      1. You spelled asshole wrong. Or maybe he’s a taint.

        1. You spelled socialist piece of shit wrong.

  19. I’m looking forward to his newsletters jamming my email/body-area-network for the next 50 years.

  20. And this is why he’s President Not-My-Fault.

    “I refuse to do anything about it when I have the power to do so, but I an content to whine about it when I don’t. Because if I actually did something there might be consequences or responsibilities I might have to face, and I want someone else to take that risk.”

    1. Of course it is. Why change his winning formula now? Since he’ll have the ever-and-always obsequious MSM there to fluff him as needed and burnishing that turd legacy of His Pestilency, he knows that they will badger Troomp in any direction that Tsarbumbles wants.

      Obumbles will get the credit, and none of the scrutiny; and Troomp, if he does anything positive and beneficial WRT this issue, will be hammered in the press if (and likely when) some negative aspects begin appearing.

      It still truly amazes me how Obumbles has managed to retain his Teflon coating all this time. No president before (and I am willing to bet after, also, including Shrill-Bot, if she were elected) has received such kid gloves treatment.

    2. If he wanted to leave a double-decker for Trump, he could declare all weed is legal on January 23nd. Make Trump spend his his first day in office re-criminilazing it.

    3. Obama is the Empty Suit president.

      1. He tried and failed to socialist America up.

        Don’t be fooled, Obama left America worse off than he found it.

  21. I actually had hopes that Obama would do something noteworthy during his presidency. Now those hopes are becoming less likely. He should reschedule pot and let the stupid party and Jeff Sessions deal with it.

  22. The president plans to do something about it “as a private citizen.”

    Go back to Hawaii and get the band choom gang back together?

  23. Oh – this is going to be fun.

  24. those of us, you know, who are already progressive and living on the coasts

    Does he mean the coast of Lake Michigan, or of the DC swamp?

  25. Is this like when Superboy tries to play baseball fairly by not turning on his super-stuff?

  26. Cowards way out, don’t do shit then acquiesce on the way out of office

  27. If only in his current position he had any power to do something about it…

  28. On His Way Out the Door, Obama Suggests Marijuana Should Be Legal

    Fuck you, Barry. I hope Malia gets busted for some dope and does some time. (Not that she will.)

  29. “Suggests” lol, Obama you wasted your first term, had a pen and a phone the second, and lied through both. Feel free to leave the White House through the sewer drain.

  30. Too little, too late. What a wuss!

  31. Who gives a shit what President American-Trudeau intends to do as a private citizen?

  32. Trump seems to be loading up on Anti-MJ zealots, it isn’t looking very promising but I will hold my fire until he actually does something. Through all of this I’m reminded of the JFK quote, “those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable”.

  33. Somebody took his pen?
    Slimy POS….

  34. Somebody took his pen?
    Slimy POS….

  35. Obama: “There’s something to this whole states being laboratories of democracy and an evolutionary approach.”

    Dog whistles: I hear them.

    1. Democrats were all for states rights, Tenth Amendment, federalism, etc back when the GOP held all three branches 2002-06. It’s to be expected that they will be again starting 1/20/17.

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  37. At one point I was actually thinking of Obama as probably a decent guy with whom I happen to disagree, and not a slimy, immoral, disingenuous, self-centered, narcissistic bastard. More fool me.

    How many people–and in honor of #BLM, how many young black men–went to prison and now have a felony following them around for the rest of their lives while this smug fuck chuckled about smoking weed in college? How many people were injured or killed during drug raids? How many people were subjected to civil asset forfeiture or, god forbid, harassed by the IRS because they got involved in the marijuana business after it became legal in their state?

    Fuck him, fuck his little interviews, fuck his childish need for attention, fuck his too-little-too-late pardons.

  38. The cynic in me tells me that he can see the writing on the wall and that there’s money to be made in lobbying. Why deny himself that opportunity now when stalling gives him (or people he likes) an opportunity to milk it for a while?

    1. Dems want to stretch out the legalization timeline to get as many legalizers to vote for Dems for as long as possible. Why else would they include a “pathway” caveat to legalization in their party platform?

  39. If this was in Rolling Stone, what makes anyone believe its true?

  40. “Last year Obama even allowed that “if enough states end up decriminalizing, Congress may then reschedule marijuana” Reschedule? No. Deschedule.

  41. Might be the one thing Obozo could have gotten right during his entire presidency… and he blew it.

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  43. “I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go.”

    Obama has had the authority since 2009Jan20 to reschedule cannabis (not M-word) from wrong, immoral, unconstitutional schedule I to schedule V; or, to deschedule cannabis from the CSA altogether.

    Obama lacks cojones to do the right thing due to his feckless character.

    Obama refuses to reply to 2016Jun09 communication to him at whitehouse.gov/contact asking:

    “Are there any scientific and/or medical purposes for the use of the psychotropic substances tobacco & alcohol? If there are, what are these scientific & medical purposes for the use of tobacco & alcohol?
    What are the legitimate uses of the psychotropic substances, tobacco & alcohol, in this country?
    What is(are) the reason(s) that tobacco & alcohol are exempt from the CSA?

    Do you acknowledge that the CSA violates the Equal Protection Clause?
    Why do you enforce the CSA when it violates the Equal Protection Clause?

    Why haven’t you called for Congress to either:
    1) Repeal the exemptions of tobacco & alcohol and classify tobacco as a schedule I controlled substance and alcohol a schedule II; or
    2) Repeal the entire CSA and abolish the DEA?”

  44. These dirty villains, of both parties, are all the same!
    Remarkably, President Clinton, days before leaving office, after eight years as President, in an interview with this very same magazine, R.S., suggested that the war on marijuana be scaled back, and that he was going to make recommendations to Congress to reduce the disparity in criminality between crack cocaine and powder cocaine!!
    At the end of their selective-drug-prohibition-driving presidencies, they spout this shit! Why even bother!
    The filthy oppressors must all be removed from power!
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