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White House Rejects Marijuana Legalization Petition
 
 
  we petition the obama administration to:

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?

link to NORML Response to White House Response:

http://blog.norml.org/2011/10/29/white-house-response-to-normls-we-the-people-marijuana-legalization-petition/

Official White House Response to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.

What We Have to Say About Legalizing Marijuana


Thank you for signing the petition "Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol" We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on WhiteHouse.gov.

By: Gil Kerlikowske

Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President's approach to drug control to learn more.

When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug's effects.

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.

As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

That is why the President's National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities. Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. And, as we've seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer. We're also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.

Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $9 billion on drug related law enforcement in the U.S.

--------------------

White House Rebuffs Marijuana Legalization Petitions

http://stopthedrugwar.org by Phillip Smith, October 29, 2011

As promised, the White House has responded to the online petition to "Legalize and Regulate Alcohol," and seven other similar pot petitions as well, but the response wasn't favorable. That's not particularly surprising, given that the person chosen to deliver the response, Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP -- the drug czar's office) head Gil Kerlikowske, is mandated by law to oppose legalization.

"Isn't it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol?" asked the petition submitted by "Erik A" of Washington, DC. "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?

The threshold for an official response was at least 25,000 signatures by 30 days from October 3. The marijuana legalization petition was by far the most popular, with more than 74,000 signatures as of Friday night. Another seven petitions similarly calling for one form of pot legalization or another, which Kerlikowske also included in his response, carried an additional 76,000 signatures.

The marijuana legalization petitions far exceeded all others. Currently, the other leading contenders are banning puppy mills (30,234), abolishing the TSA (28,515), and two other issues that are closely related to marijuana reform -- allowing for industrial hemp (20,498) and ending the war on drugs (18,614).

The official response from drug czar Kerlikowske is certain to disappoint and infuriate marijuana legalization supporters and drug reformers, but should come as little surprise. Under the 1998 ONDCP Reauthorization Act, the drug czar is required by law not only to not spend any money to study legalization but also to "take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize" a Schedule I substance, a category that under federal law includes marijuana. The drug czar could no more come out for marijuana legalization than the 17th Century Holy Office could endorse a universe without the earth at its center.

That the administration chose the drug czar to respond sends a strong signal that legalization talk will go nowhere in this administration. That it chose to release its response during the late Friday afternoon "news dump," when it will hopefully vanish over the weekend suggests that it realizes it isn't going to win many political points with its position.

"Our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug's effects," Kerlikowske begins before warning that "marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment." He then wheels out marijuana treatment admissions and emergency room visits, reminds that potency has increased, and concludes that "simply put, it is not a benign drug."

Kerlikowske asserts that the administration is "ardently support[ing] ongoing research" into marijuana as a medicine, but scoffs at smoked marijuana as a medicine. Then he actually addresses the petition.

"As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem," the drug czar continued. "We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use."

Instead, Kerlikowske recommends, not surprisingly, his own 2001 National Drug Control Strategy, "emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities." What is needed is not marijuana legalization, but more drug treatment and more drug courts, Kerlikowske concludes.

The legalization petition was drafted in response to the White House's We the People campaign "because we want to hear from you," according to the web page. "If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it is sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response."

The drug czar's recitation of the harms associated with marijuana use is certainly debatable and will doubtlessly be thoroughly criticized in days to come. But as the administration response makes clear, that marijuana is a dangerous drug that Americans cannot be trusted with to use responsibly is the official line, and they're sticking to it.

Washington, DC

United States

-----------------------------

White House Rejects Petition To Legalize Marijuana

huffingtonpost 10/31/11

WASHINGTON -- The White House has rejected several marijuana legalization petitions, one of which called on the federal government to stop interfering with state marijuana legalization efforts.

"As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem," wrote Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in a statement released late on Friday. "We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use."

The statement came in response to a petition submitted by retired Baltimore narcotics officer Neill Franklin as part of the White House's "We The People" project, an effort to allow ordinary Americans to gain the attention of policymakers through an online portal at the White House website. Any petition garnering 5,000 signatures within 30 days of submission is guaranteed a response from the White House; Franklin's petition received more than 17,000.

"It's maddening that the administration wants to continue failed prohibition polices that do nothing to reduce drug use and succeed only in funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of the cartels and gangs that control the illegal market," said Franklin, who serves as executive director of advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, in a statement released Saturday.

Franklin's petition comes as federal prosecutors have escalated enforcement actions against medical marijuana dispensary owners in California, vowing to shutter state-licensed businesses and threatening landlords with property seizures for violating federal drug laws. Franklin has also called on the president to remember his campaign promise not to waste government resources interfering with state-regulated marijuana dispensaries.

The White House's rejection statement was directed at seven other marijuana-related petitions, which together garnered more than 150,000 signatures. One such petition, which called for marijuana to be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol, received almost 75,000 signatures.

"Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses," the White House wrote in its official response. "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."

Read the full response from the White House below:

When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug's effects.

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.

As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

That is why the President's National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities. Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. And, as we've seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer. We're also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.

Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $9 billion on drug related law enforcement in the U.S.

Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President's approach to drug control to learn more.

------------

NY Times:

In November 2010, Californians defeated Proposition 19, a ballot measure that would have legalized possession and growing of marijuana outright, and taxed and regulated its use. California had already reduced its penalty for possession, putting those caught with small amounts of the drug on the same level as those caught speeding on the freeway. Advocates for Proposition 19 had said that if marijuana were legalized, California could raise $1.4 billion in taxes and save precious law enforcement and prison resources.

Attorney General Eric Holder has insisted that the federal government would continue to enforce its laws against marijuana in California even if they conflict with state law. In an illustration of that conflict, in October 2011 federal officials warned dozens of marijuana dispensaries throughout California to shut down or face civil and criminal action. Specifically, four United States attorneys said that they would move against landlords who rent space to storefront operators of medical marijuana dispensaries whom prosecutors suspect of using the law to cover large-scale for-profit drug sales.

Officials said they would also concentrate on properties used to grow marijuana, particularly in the agriculturally rich central part of the state.

-----------------

Forbes Mag 10/28/2011:

Marijuana: Half the Nation Believes It Should Be Legal

In 1969, a Gallup poll found that a whopping 84% of Americans believed that marijuana should be illegal. This year, for the first time, according to its latest poll, the majority sentiment on this issue has changed. 50% of those polled thought that the drug should be legalized, while 46% thought otherwise; not quite "one toke over the line" for proponents, but very close.

Even better news for those who favor legalization is that the slope of the line is growing steeper, meaning that views are shifting much more quickly than they did in the previous century. Just five years ago, 60% were against legalization.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health in 2010, marijuana was the most used illicit drug, with 17.4 million past-month users. Use is on the rise, too, it found; from 2007 to 2010, up from 5.8% to 6.9%. Among youths 12 to 17, the rate has grown from 6.7% in 2007 to 7.4%. The age at which people first turn on has gone up, though, on average from 17 years of age in 2002 to 18.4 years in 2010.

For sake of comparison, 21% of Americans currently smoke tobacco, and the percentage of high school students who smoked cigarettes in the past month, according to the Centers for Disease Control, was 19.5%. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse claims that "those who drank alcohol and smoked cigarettes at least once in the past month are 30 times more likely to smoke marijuana than those who didn't." Talk about gateway drugs!

Last year another Gallup survey found that 70% of respondents felt that doctors should be allowed to use the drug for pain and suffering.

Support for legalization is a function of age, with 18- to 29-year-olds registering 62% approval. Among the greatest generation only 31% agree. More men (55%) than women (46%) favor legalization. Those in the West (55%), Midwest (54%) and East (51%) are pro-legalization; only in the South does a minority (44%) believe it's a good idea.

The BBC recently estimated that 40,000 people have been killed in Mexico due to drug-related violence. Many of these deaths have to be laid at the feet of U.S. citizens' thirst for illicit drugs.

In contrast to the softening in American's attitudes to legalizing marijuana is the U.S. Department of Justice's recent actions to challenge state's rights to allow medical marijuana sales. The battle lines seems drawn in California, after the department sent pot clinics a notice that they have 45 days to shut down.

Is the time right to have a national conversation about legalizing marijuana? I don't see it, despite the Gallup poll trends. Few politicians are willing to get out in front of this issue, and the health industry continues to oppose it. And we've witnessed one battle after another in D.C. during this administration where an evenly-split populace leads to nothing but gridlock.

Give it a few more years and, if the trend lines continue, the absurd financial cost to taxpayers for enforcing marijuana laws will put such pressure on the federal budget that such a discussion will be inevitable. In the meantime, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws will no doubt continue its work to change public opinion, one toke at a time.

 
 
 
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