To be clear, the White House did not promise to react favorably to a petition. Rather, it just promised to respond to the petition, and not just ignore it.
A total of eight petition calling for the legalization of marijuana each received more than 5,000 signatures. One, asking for the legalization and regulation of marijuana “in a matter similar to alcohol” received nearly 75,000 signatures, and was at the top of the "We the People" list of petitions. Four others with similar entreaties were in the top 10 of the list. However, perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out that the White House still does not support pot legalization.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, issued the official White House response on marijuana. He said,
"According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health- the world’s largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20′s. Simply put, it is not a benign drug.
"Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.
"As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize 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."
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) responded as follows, "Late Friday night the White House issued a typical evasive rejection of the several marijuana legalization petitions that collected more signatures than any other issue on its "We the People" website. Even though recent polls show that more voters support marijuana legalization than approve of President Obama's job performance, the White House categorically dismissed the notion of reforming any laws, focusing its response on the possible harms of marijuana use instead of addressing the many harms of prohibition detailed in the petitions."
NORML responded by saying, "The Obama White House has released its official response to the “We the People” online petition for marijuana legalization submitted by NORML. The petition, which garnered 74,169 signatures, was by far the most popular petition submitted. The government response (released late on a Friday to avoid news cycles, we’ll note) repeats the same tired lies and classic misdirections. "
Recently, federal authorities have been cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries. A recent lawsuit by Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group based in Oakland, against U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Melinda Haag, the top federal prosecutor in Northern California, accuses them of violating the Constitution's 10th Amendment by using coercive tactics to interfere with powers delegated to the states.
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