Lawmakers push Obama to reclassify marijuana
February 13th, 2014
04:57 PM ET
7 months ago

Lawmakers push Obama to reclassify marijuana

(CNN) – A group of lawmakers are pushing President Barack Obama to remove marijuana from its classification as a dangerous narcotic.

The federal government places pot in the same category as heroin and ecstasy as a schedule 1 controlled substance – a drug with high potential for abuse but no accepted medical use.

In a letter, signed on Wednesday by 17 Democrats and one Republican, to the President, lawmakers cite Obama's recent comments that he sees smoking marijuana as no more dangerous than drinking alcohol.

"As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol," Obama recently told The New Yorker.

The lawmakers said marijuana's current classification "makes no sense," pointing to wasted law enforcement resources under "harsh, unrealistic, and unfair marijuana laws."

"You said that you don't believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol: a fully legalized substance, and believe it to be less dangerous 'in terms of impact on the individual consumer.' This is true," the letter says.

"Marijuana, however, remains listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification, along with heroin and LSD. This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances that you gave as examples of harder drugs."

Voters in two states, Colorado and Washington, opted last November through ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana use. Another 18, along with the District of Columbia, allow some legal pot use, primarily for medicinal purposes.

The federal government said it would not challenge state laws legalizing marijuana. The President told The New Yorker it was important for those states' laws to move forward, calling them "experiments," but the White House has said the President remains opposed to a nationwide decriminalization of marijuana.

Attorney General Eric Holder can remove marijuana from its classification after an independent scientific review. But Holder has said that his preference was for Congress to act, underscoring that federal enforcement effort would focus on preventing marijuana use in minors.

"What is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress," Obama said in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper.

Holder also said recently that local business selling marijuana should have access to the American banking system, and that Justice Department is working with the Treasury to come up with rules providing an avenue for banks to handle legal revenue.


Filed under: Congress • Marijuana • President Obama
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Ol' Yeller

    "In a letter, signed on Wednesday by 17 Democrats and one Republican..."

    Let's all talk about which party actually knows what the word Freedom is and how it should be reflected in our laws.
    Quick Quiz:

    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to restrict the rights of ordinary working Americans to vote?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to tell a woman what she can/can't do with her own body?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to have ordinary Americans be required to present 'their papers' to the 'authorities' to 'prove' they have a right to walk down the friggin' street?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to require the insertion of an object into a person's body who has not been charged with or even accused of any crime?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to imprison people indefinitely who have not been charged with a crime, have not had a trial, and are not being allowed due process?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws which are in direct violation of the Geneva Convention?
    Which Party wants to (and does) pass laws to allow a dangerous intoxicant to be sold publicly, but causes a less dangerous intoxicant to be sold on the black market and possession thereof to result in prison sentences (especially for brown and black American citizens)?

    I get so sick of the republicant's putting themselves out as the Party of 'Freedom' when they have no idea what that word even means.

    February 13, 2014 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  2. Bill from GA

    Yeah, Barry, If you hide your head in the sand on this issue, you are just another hypocritical politician. We shouldn't be arresting people in the USA needlessly. How can you turn your back on this issue?

    When fundraising in Atlanta last fall, our President is taking gobs of money from the Hip-Hop community. Wonder how they feel about this. (OK, I Really Don't Care how THEY feel about much of anything. But its the principle.)

    Show some leadership! Free Americans.

    February 13, 2014 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  3. Gurgyl

    -go and ask Colarado.

    February 13, 2014 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  4. Bill from GA

    From the article: " lawmakers said marijuana's current classification "makes no sense," pointing to wasted law enforcement resources"

    How about the issue of FREEDOM??

    How can we call our country "The Land of the Free" (its in our National Anthem, like we sing at the ball games and stuff) when we needlessly arrest 750,000 of our citizens each year?

    How about "The Land of the Lying Hypocrites"? So, it may not have that 'ring' to it, and doesn't fit in the beat. Lotta truth in it,though.

    February 13, 2014 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  5. rosethornne

    Just say no to the war on drugs.

    February 13, 2014 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  6. The REAL Truth...

    It's pretty simple.. if he does, the GOP will pounce on him for being a dictator, king, lord, blah, blah, blah.
    If he DOESN'T, the GOP will pounce on him for being weak, indecisive, lord, blah, blah, blah.
    I'd punt to Congress.

    February 13, 2014 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    "I get so sick of the republicant's putting themselves out as the Party of 'Freedom' when they have no idea what that word even means."

    Great post, Ol 'Yeller.

    Me? I have to laugh at them: Their whining. Their childish rants. Their insecurities. Their need to redefine what others think in a desperate need to "fit in". All posted for the world to see. Strange people, this new breed of GOPers.

    February 13, 2014 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  8. Nicole

    Although which president wants to (and has) authorized the killing of American citizens on foreign soil without their due process and jury of their peers?
    So Ol Yeller, its kinda like the pot calling the kettle black, they are all corrupt, both will say anything to get elected then "do whatever they want" as our esteemed president (also a Democrat... in case you missed that) said the other day

    February 13, 2014 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  9. Rick McDaniel

    Any drug, that is mind altering, is a dangerous drug, especially when the user is out in the public.

    This is simply a lot of B.S.

    February 13, 2014 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  10. Hank

    It's deinitely high time to re-classify pot. I'm not advocating for the free wheeling out in the open use of the stuff, but let's be practical. Pot is pot. Okay? It's nothing like heroin, cocaine or ecstasy, all of which are highly addictive and ruin lives every day. Those are evil bad drugs. Pot, well, I guess I'm going back in time to my Grateful dead days and just remembering the people I saw and hung around with and who we were. Good people, really. Still are today.
    I am much more pro pot than I am pro booze. I've seen what booze can do to a person, to families and children born to alcoholics. Fetal alcohol syndrome is an ugly thing.
    Hopefully the feds will come to a reasonable decision that works for our society.

    February 13, 2014 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  11. Chris-E...al

    Weed isnt n0 worse than spirits an beer .0ne sh0uld be able 2 use it if one desires – If 21 yr 0ld ! But this open up such a HUGH can 0f worms for hireing companys an maintaining emplnyment .Drugtest .liability issues same with ALCOH0L .BUT T.H.c stays in blood for weeks. It will never fly in my state .alabam. ! never.

    February 13, 2014 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  12. asdfasdfa

    Good job Old Yeller!
    ...you couldn't have put it better.

    February 13, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  13. Thomas

    Tax it !

    February 13, 2014 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  14. happy dude

    Same reason I left the Military, too many politics. No communication, its everyone elses job when its in fact that persons. Obama if you are going to allow the use of Marijuana in 2 states and want them to have banking so they don't hold large sums of cash on hand. THEN TAKE ACTION!! America is tired of being lied to about Marijuana. Its not a drug. Its a plant that can be used as a vice, and or a medicine. We don't have coffee as a controlled substance, or cigarettes that have thousands more chemicals in it that are unnatural. Its only addicting if used as a vice, I could go and punch a punching bag when Im mad, happy, or upset and that could be my vice, same with reading or anything else out there you get pleasure out of. Im full on for Legalization. Im also a realist and will say that marijuana isn't for everyone. Some people do become lazy and some are very productive. Lets allow the people to be free. We stand behind the flag that has so much meaning for us VETS and current military. Young men and women die for that flag and what it stands for. Let the American people get what they want.

    February 13, 2014 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. karl from az

    Let's also make it part of the Head Start Program! Get a jump on how to go thru life, 'stoned'!

    February 13, 2014 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  16. Lennahc

    Somebody get this clown out of office before he entirely destroys the fabric of this country.

    February 13, 2014 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  17. Taurus Bulba

    Since it's his last trip through the White House, this president could be the hero to many that smoke because we have to. I have Glaucoma, was supposed to be blind by 25. I'm 58 and just passed another drivers exam. I do IT work for a living and am NO bum or lazy chump. Pot has been a blessing for me allowing me to see. That is what I know. It is NOT in a class anywhere NEAR LSD or Cocaine for sure and should be managed, not demonized. People drink, they should smoke should they feel like it. Those that do will, those that don't won't. Simple.

    February 13, 2014 09:28 pm at 9:28 pm |
  18. geno marcello

    Please take marijuana off this controlled substance list and let the citizens of this country and the states make their own decision on this plant. This will be a small step in the right direction.

    February 13, 2014 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  19. Richard

    That'll be a capper of his presidency. Bankrupt the country and make it much easier for kids to get pot. Pathetic.

    February 13, 2014 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  20. Phillip

    Typical of ol' do nothing Barry. When it comes to speaking off-the-cuff, he says what he's really thinking. But when asked the really important questions, he defers the responsibility to someone else.

    February 13, 2014 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    Yeh, great idea. Colorados law is working so well.... Last week while skiing there three kids on the chair in front of us a smoking away with it going right in the face of my 8 and 10 year old, on the next chair,

    There is not justification for that. The more lax you make it the more lax people will be about smoking it in public.

    February 13, 2014 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  22. Kaiser

    Roll it up, light it up...smoke it

    February 13, 2014 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  23. david boggs

    we should all get to grow are own pot to use for are meds, if we chose to.IF the dem, partey don't free the weed it will hurt them come the next election.I will never vote for no one that don't alow us to grow are med.in EVERY STATE.The people in ky, should get to grow there own meds, just like the other 22 states do for people in ky, are as good of people as any where in the usa for treat the ky, people with reaspcet as the reast of the states.

    February 13, 2014 09:46 pm at 9:46 pm |
  24. Taurus Bulba

    Since it's his last trip through the White House, this president could be the hero to many that smoke because we have to. I have Glaucoma, was supposed to be blind by 25. I'm 58 and just passed another drivers exam. I do IT work for a living and am NO bum or lazy chump. Pot has been a blessing for me allowing me to see. That is what I know. It is NOT in a class anywhere NEAR LSD or Cocaine for sure and should be managed, not demonized. People drink, they should smoke should they feel like it. Those that do will, those that don't won't. Simple.

    February 13, 2014 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  25. thesadpart

    If Obama had been arrested for smoking pot in his life he would have never ended up as POTUS – fact.

    February 13, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
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