If Obama announced that he was de-prioritizing the federal government’s war on pot—not even on all drugs, but just marijuana—he would almost certainly be joined by a growing number of libertarian Republicans who think drug policy is a state-level issue. Indeed, if Obama framed the issue explicitly in federalist terms, he could likely count on the support of characters such as Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan.
As important, he wouldn’t need congressional buy-in to get this party started. It’s fully within the president’s power—power that he has happily exceeded when it comes to waging wars overseas and delaying aspects of Obamacare—to start the process to reclassify pot from a Schedule I drug to something more credible (a Schedule I drug is deemed to have a high potential for abuse, no known or accepted use as medicine, and no reliable safe dose). That alone would kickstart a long overdue national conversation about the costs and benefits of prohibition.
If Obama really thinks pot is no more dangerous than alcohol and that the war on pot systematically screws over minorities, why should he have any hesitation in liberalizing the federal policies over which he has control? And using the bully pulpit to push for broader legislative change at the federal and state level? What is he waiting for, a third term?