So, the legalize-marijuana crowd finally got a thoughtful answer from the White House — but not one it wanted.
After being ignored or quickly dismissed on multiple occasions, Americans who want to see marijuana legalized found a way to get the White House to take their question seriously. The White House “We the People” project lets anyone submit a petition requesting government action. If the petition gets enough signatures, the White House promises a policy response.
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. It turns out that the White House still does not support pot legalization.
Other early responses indicate that the White House also does not support removing the phrase “In God We Trust” from the currency” or “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance. It does not support a “fair tax,” which it says would increase taxes for the middle class while cutting them for the wealthy. And it declined to respond to a petition calling for an investigation into the prosecution of Sholom Rubashkin, a former kosher slaughterhouse executive who was sentenced to 27 years in prison on 86 financial fraud charges.
Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, offered the official White House response on marijuana, saying the administration does not support legalization. He said that research finds that marijuana is associated with addiction, respiratory disease and cognitive impairment and that pot is ever more potent, possibly affecting still-developing brains of people in their 20s. He went on to say that the White House drug control strategy is “balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment” and “innovative law enforcement.”
Allen St. Pierre, executive director of NORML, which advocates for marijuana legalization and which organized at least one of these petitions, said he was not surprised by the response but said it’s “hard not to be disappointed that the White House solicits—consistently—the views of the general public about specific policy changes via the Internet, and with the same consistency completely rejects the public’s ever-growing wont to see Cannabis Prohibition end in our lifetimes.”