Lawmakers push Obama to reclassify marijuana
February 13th, 2014
04:57 PM ET
8 years 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.

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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. Joe Plumber

    Legalize it!

    February 13, 2014 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  2. Mike

    This is an argument that I am surprised does not come up more often in the debate for full legalization; the U.S.Government has a patent involving marijuana (U.S. Patent 6,630,507 – Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants). Since marijuana contains compounds recognized and endorsed by an agency of the USG (The U.S. Health and Human Services), why is it that marijuana remains on the Schedule 1 list of drugs (Schedule 1 are labeled as dangerous and having NO/NO medicinal benefits / use)? The issuance and mere existence of patent 6630507 is an absolute direct contradiction of the government’s own definition for classification of a Schedule 1 / Class 1 narcotic (remember, NO medicinal value?)! This argument alone should void any case the USG would try and bring against any person or business. That is blatant hypocrisy and a slap in the American public's face. Fully legalize with proper regulation, organic production (no additives, chemicals, just natural, etc.), and reasonable taxation.

    February 13, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  3. norm

    I find it hilarious the Republicans and the Tea Baggers are not fully behind personal freedom, if they are Christians then Jesus didn't die because of our sins, he died because he was a selfish hypocritical gun-loving freak who hated freedom.

    February 13, 2014 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  4. bill

    It is currently illegal for many reasons, not only because some people want to enjoy it responsibly. Marijuana (Hemp) has so many other industrial uses that it would threaten industries such as oil and lumber. Nothing is infinitely sustainable, but hemp is...well...a weed, and grows like one. This plant has so many uses that would take money from the global elites that it will never be accepted in mainstream society as long as we are ruled by the 250 richest people on the planet.

    February 13, 2014 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  5. Just say no

    Dont let the government decide for you. Decide not to enslave yourself to this addictive plant. If it wasn't addictive, you would not see such a massive campaign to legalize it. Letting drug cartels win and obtain power through addiction is not the way to win any war. Don't give up folks. Just stay away from it.

    February 13, 2014 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  6. GOP obstructs

    All RED States are already beginning to fight this. (legalization)

    And I find it entertaining that Holder CAN remove the Laws.... BUT states he wants the republicant's to do THEIR job... Good call Mr. Holder, but they will continue to OBSTRUCT and stop progress of this Country... Tea Party is EXACTLY the same.

    February 13, 2014 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  7. Fulkner

    Freedom is the ability to chose. However with every choice we make there comes a consequence whether it be good or bad. I just hope if marijuna is legalized anywhere the consequences brought are good ones, and not degrading in anyway.

    February 13, 2014 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  8. Elucidated1

    This one is a no brainer. Too bad the feds are so far behind the states on this one. But never count on Congress to fix this. And this is not the Presidents job to do it. Legalization is coming. .and Alaska is the next state to legalize.

    February 13, 2014 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  9. I Smoke Pot

    Obama wants us to all get stoned and forget how bad of a politician he is. Then again I might just be paranoid from all the pot I've smoked.

    February 13, 2014 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  10. Skeptic

    If this happens, it won't be until after the 2014 mid-term elections. Too many extremist nutball right-wingers will go nuts if he does this, so he'll wait.

    February 13, 2014 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  11. are122

    Obama's recent comments that he sees smoking marijuana as no more dangerous than drinking alcohol. <~~ According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 32,885 people died in traffic crashes in 2010 in the United States. Marijuana is no more dangerous? That's nice.

    February 13, 2014 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  12. mantirig39

    when they first started drug test people switched to coke so they could pass a drug test in 3 days, that worked out really well.

    February 13, 2014 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  13. stungun

    In CNN's Dr Gupta apology for opposing medical marijuana he cited a poll where 76% of MD's want to prescribe marijuana for their breast cancer patients. Stop the delay President Obama and Congress. People are suffering from this Nixon madness RIGHT NOW.

    February 13, 2014 11:07 pm at 11:07 pm |
  14. cliffintex

    It's time. Decriminalize marijuana – it's gone beyond silly. The stigma is gone and the public no longer cares. There are commercial issues and if they and the tax man get too aggressive, then it'll still be cheaper to buy from the fat man. Holder is right – this is up to the congress to do.

    February 13, 2014 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  15. joe

    Ol' Yeller... the White House has said the President remains opposed to a nationwide decriminalization of marijuana.

    February 13, 2014 11:14 pm at 11:14 pm |
  16. sickandtired

    Do what needs done Obama. Stop this senseless war on marijuana. !!!!

    You will go down in history as a great american hero.
    You have the power to make history!!!!

    Do what needs done Obama. Stop this senseless war on marijuana!!!!

    February 13, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  17. blakenaustin

    The far left's relentless effort to destroy America. Fiscal and moral irresponsiblity are standard operating proceedure. Take your socialist utopian dream somewhere else.

    February 13, 2014 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  18. fedupwithamericanpolitics

    Marijuana Prohibition Benefits The Big Pharma Wall Street Drug Pushers who have everyone in american hooked on Opiated Pain Killers and Psychotropic Anti-Depressants. Not to Mention the Big Wall Street Petrochemical companies who do not want natural hemp to replace their synthetic oil based products. The American Prison State Complex also needs non-violent prisoners to incarcerate to keep their business going. Not to Mention the Law Enforcement Community who would go broke if not for Busting Harmless marijuana smokers. It;s the Evil Greed of American Big Business that Keeps this Harmful and oppressive Prohibition going. In the end Big Weed Money will conquer them!

    February 13, 2014 11:21 pm at 11:21 pm |
  19. srcactus

    More pot, a better introduction into chemical dependency for heroine. More booze would also be helpful in controlling the masses. Stop sober awareness, end responsible behavior. Less safety in the work place and less hours in a work day life can be much easier.

    February 13, 2014 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  20. Brock

    The real driving force behind this is the unreported and extremely explosive Libertarian element in youth society.

    We don't care what you do in your bedrooms.
    We don't care what you do in your free time.
    We don't care what drugs you want to put in your body.
    We don't care what weapons you use to defend your home and family.
    We don't care what the market does–as long as it doesn't monopolize.
    We don't need government intervention to run our lives.

    We are many, we are strong, and we are the future. The two party system is on the way out. Welcome to Millenial America

    February 13, 2014 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  21. Dan

    Now that the Hoffman story is over, they're back to pushing drugs again, that is until another famous addict dies, then they'll slack off for another week or so.

    February 13, 2014 11:40 pm at 11:40 pm |
  22. Hooper

    Thar's money to be made in them thar buds. They're just catching on to the possibilities of increased revenue. As far as your safety, or well being, well that can be figured out in a reasonable time.

    February 13, 2014 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  23. Steven Brown

    It's time to put a stop to the reefer madness madness.

    February 13, 2014 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  24. OldSchool

    It is the right thing to do. We all know the right will demonize you for it, but who cares, you can't run again anyways...

    February 13, 2014 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  25. DC Johnny

    @Ol' Yeller

    You clearly have no idea what you're talking about, and are either cherry-picking and misrepresenting Conservative positions intentionally or are extraordinarily ignorant on what it means to be free.

    Ignoring laws does not make a society free. On the contrary, it is the integrity of existing law that guarantees such freedoms will not be encroached upon.

    But keep up the good fight. I will fight to protect your freedoms either way, because they are inherently tied to mine as well.

    February 13, 2014 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
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