The week began with a landmark opinion piece from The New York Times’ editorial board, which collectively asked for the federal repeal of the ban against marijuana. You can imagine it caused quite the hubbub at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
While the White House placed Press Secretary Josh Earnest on the front lines, taking its respective shots in rapid fire succession, the man in the Oval Office was silent about the whole thing…until now.
To President Obama, upholding the ban isn’t the feeling or decision of the White House, so much as it is simply following the letter of the law.
You knew this statement was coming, and here it is on the White House website. It begins with understanding and an olive branch:
We agree that the criminal justice system is in need of reform and that disproportionality exists throughout the system. However, marijuana legalization is not the silver bullet solution to the issue.
Then begins the finger pointing and implications of ignorance…
In its argument, The New York Times editorial team failed to mention a cascade of public health problems associated with the increased availability of marijuana. While law enforcement will always play an important role in combating violent crime associated with the drug trade, the Obama Administration approaches substance use as a public health issue, not merely a criminal justice problem.
Overall, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) accuses the NYT Op-Ed Board of “[ignoring] the science and [failing] to address public health problems associated with increased marijuana use.”
It’s one of the most anti-scientific, know-nothing provisions in any federal law, but it remains an active imposition on every White House. The “drug czar,” as the director of the drug control policy office is informally known, must “take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance” that’s listed on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and has no “approved” medical use.
In short, this “change” might take a while.