As most of our readers probably know by now, the White House recently decided to give concerned citizens an official online outlet to petition their government. Although the new “We The People” petition site is unlikely to lead to anything beyond some token show of attention, its promise of an official policy review and answer is still intriguing. The rules say that any petition reaching over 5000 signatures in 30 days will receive a reply; predictably, the legalization of marijuana petition started by NORML was the first to pass the threshold, and it did so in just a day.
This marijuana petition keeps thing short and to the point, and focuses on the difficult to deflect alcohol analogy:
Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.
We the people want to know when we can have our “perfectly legitimate” discussion on marijuana legalization. Marijuana prohibition has resulted in the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965, countless lives ruined and hundreds of billions of tax dollars squandered and yet this policy has still failed to achieve its stated goals of lowering use rates, limiting the drug’s access, and creating safer communities.
Isn’t it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol? If not, please explain why you feel that the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?
Currently, the marijuana petition sits at just over 45,000 signatures and cannabis reform advocates eagerly await the Obama administration’s, hopefully for once straight forward, response. Not that anyone is particularly optimistic about the chances that an official marijuana petition will yield any meaningful policy results. In the past, President Obama has treated the marijuana issue as a joke, both when ambushed by the question during a rally and when the video versions of a marijuana petition were the overwhelming favorite issue in his much-touted Youtube Q&A. And that is only the public relations side of things, as the administration has done nothing at all to safeguard the rights of states with medical marijuana and instead has broken promises of reform. WIll things be any different this time around?
It is hard to imagine that the White House would not have expected a marijuana petition to gather the most support in the least amount of time, so one must wonder why they would set themselves up to respond to the issue in such a public manner. Two possibilities come to mind; either the plan is to use this marijuana petition to come out in strong and clear opposition to any reform, and risk the ire of many liberal and young voters; or to use the opportunity to set some policy guidelines marginally more favorable to reform. The reality is that angering key demographics who are already deeply disappointed with the president is probably not a good idea during campaign season.
While hoping for change from Obama has, ironically, largely been futile, the timing and nature of this initiative (and the inevitable marijuana petition) are not very supportive to the status quo. Perhaps the response will make things even worse somehow but there is also a small chance that some steps in the right direction may be taken, if only to appease the restless masses. Either way, this marijuana petition is unlikely to be ignored entirely and so the resulting response can be seen as an important bellwether of the White House’s marijuana law strategy as President Obama seeks re-election.
Disclaimer: These opinions and statements made in these posts are solely the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinion of 420 Petition and its parent company.