At the House Democratic retreat in Baltimore last week, President Obama made it clear that marijuana reform is not on his agenda for the last year of his presidential term. Press secretary Josh Earnest later said that the Congress will have to take the lead in marijuana reform.
U.S. Representative Steve Cohen from Tennessee told The Washington Post that the president repeated his answer of seven years ago to the same question: “If you get me a bill, and get it on my desk, I’ll probably sign it.” Several Democratic legislators want to move marijuana from its listing as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification reserved for the most dangerous drugs, to a Schedule 2 drug where its medical potential can be taken into account.
Marijuana activists were predictably disappointed with the president’s response. A spokesman for the advocacy group Marijuana Majority told the Post:
It’s unacceptable and frankly embarrassing for a president who has so nonchalantly acknowledged his own marijuana use to allow the federal government to continue classifying cannabis in such an inappropriate category.
By maintaining a Schedule 1 classification on marijuana—the same classification as heroin—federal law prohibits research into the medical potential for the plant. Reclassifying cannabis as Schedule 2 drug would not legalize marijuana either from recreational or medical use however.
Here are other important news stories for the week.
7 Ways New York’s Medical Marijuana Program Falls Short
New York’s long-delayed medical marijuana program finally rolled out this month, not with a bang, but with a whimper. What looks to be the country’s tightest medical marijuana program has an extremely limited number of producers and retailers, a tiny number of eligible patients, a dearth of doctors, and forbids both smoking marijuana and using edibles.
For patients and advocates, the very limited arrival of medical marijuana in the Empire State is not the end point they hoped to achieve. Now, instead of resting on their laurels, they will have to continue to fight to make the program one that actually serves the needs of New Yorkers.
“It’s a start,” said the Drug Policy Alliance’s Julie Netherland, until recently the deputy director of the group’s New York Policy Office, where she was deeply involved in massaging the law through the legislature and past a reluctant governor. “It’s the first time New Yorkers can legally purchase medical marijuana, and it’s the result of the hard work of thousands of patients and family members across New York.”
But, she was quick to grant, the program has some serious issues, immediate ones in the way the program has been rolled out and longer-term ones with the statute itself.
Read more at The Daily Chronic.