All those kids who once upon a time chanted “Yes, we cannabis!” must be sorely disappointed. Earlier this fall, the White House launched its “We the People” initiative to invite more input from the American people. The project allows anyone to submit a petition for government action — and promises an answer to those whose petition obtains a certain number of signatures. (The threshold changes, though. Right now, it stands at 25,000 signatures within 30 days.)
If my experience on a college campus is any indication, advocates for the legalization of marijuana have always been expert at organizing petitions. (They kinda have to be, given that the issue is mostly a fringe issue. How often have you heard it come up in the GOP debates, for example?) So, not surprisingly, it didn’t take them long to line up the necessary signatures to guarantee a response from the White House. WSJ’s Washington Wire reports:
A petition calling for legalization and regulation of marijuana “in a matter similar to alcohol” quickly vaulted into the top position, receiving nearly 75,000 signatures. Four others making similar requests were in the top 10. A total of eight marijuana-related petitions each received more than 5,000 signatures.
Unfortunately for these enthusiastic petitioners, the White House reiterated its ongoing opposition to the drug’s legalization. Wrote Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy:
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.
Kerlikowske then touted the administration’s “comprehensive” drug control policy, which emphasizes “prevention and treatment.”
That bureaucratically formal answer will do little to increase Obama’s popularity with pragmatic millennial voters, who are among the most liberal on this issue.
Incidentally, as of Oct. 18, more people thought marijuana should be legal than approved of the job the president is doing. As Kerlikowske put it, marijuana is far from benign and increasingly potent. Seems safe to say the American people are similarly disenchanted by the deleterious effect of this administration on the number of jobs in this country.