Is it just me, or are politicians only being honest about marijuana when it suits them? They will campaign for our support, say non-committal positive soundbites such as “I think it should be up to the states” or “I think we need to look into it”, and then simply ignore the majority of Americans who want something done, saying it is “not a top priority” or “we have more important issues”.
“I certainly think it ought to be rescheduled,” Holder says. “You know, we treat marijuana in the same way that we treat heroin now, and that clearly is not appropriate.”
It’s quite a bit stronger than his statements when he was attorney general. While in office in September of 2014, he pawned the question of rescheduling off as:
“…something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”
The two stones that politicians like to hop between in pot politics are Science and Fear. If they want to sound positive, they say that science shows it helps us, and that old fears are unfounded. If they want to avoid the issue, they say more research needs to be done, and we have to take a cautious approach. If they want to sound tough on the issue, they fall back to citing debunked studies that say it is dangerous, and galvanize fear for our children’s safety.
Everyone in politics tries to avoid being transparent on issues, for fear of alienating voters who disagree at least canny politicians, (I am not including Chris Christie or Donald Trump in this generalization). Holder says Congress should act to reschedule marijuana. The truth is that the executive branch (Obama), and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg) both have the power to reschedule without input from Congress. Nevertheless, neither one wants to do so as it would put their name in history as being the originator. Rather, they pass the buck onto Congress, a large body of career politicians who specialize in arguing an issue into non-existence.
“I think that certainly that ought to be a part of the conversation,” Holder said in the PBS Frontline interview. “You know, where do we want to be as a nation? Now, there’s certain drugs I just can’t see. It’s hard for me to imagine ever decriminalizing crack cocaine, drugs like that. But the whole question of should marijuana be decriminalized, I mean, that’s a conversation I think that we should engage in.”
Unfortunately, his candidness is too late, since he is no longer in office. So is it that he has suddenly had a change of heart, or is he feeling guilty about not doing something when he had the chance? Tom Angell, who is chairman of the pro-marijuana advocacy group Marijuana Majority, is quoted in response to Holder’s about-face as saying:
“It’s nice to have Holder’s support for this sensible policy change, but it would have been a lot better if he’d exercised the power to get marijuana rescheduling done while he was still in office,” he says. “We know that Holder and President Obama are good friends, so I hope the former attorney general encourages his former boss and his successor Loretta Lynch to follow through during these final months of the administration and get the job done.”
Getting Obama to listen to his friend in his final year in office will be a long shot. Seven years ago, he was asked about marijuana legalization.
“If you get me a bill, and get it on my desk, I’ll probably sign it,” – Obama
Now he states that it is not a priority which is disappointing, to say the least of a president who was so candid about his use of it while younger. Tom Angell commented on this sad turn of events in an article for the Washington Post.
“This isn’t the first time President Obama has unnecessarily tried to pass the buck on marijuana rescheduling to Congress,” Tom Angell of the pro-marijuana group Marijuana Majority said in an email. “It’s unacceptable and frankly embarrassing for a president who has so nonchalantly acknowledged his own marijuana use to allow the federal government to continue classifying cannabis in such an inappropriate category.”
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