Obama Opposed to Changing Legal Status of Marijuana “at this Point”

The White House recently confirmed that President Obama continues to oppose the legalization of marijuana, despite growing public support for the idea:

President Barack Obama does not support changes to the legal classification of marijuana, the White House said Wednesday, despite growing evidence of its medical benefits.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked for the second day in a row if CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta’s recent reversal on medical marijuana use and apology for misleading the public had had any bearing on Obama’s position on the issue.

Whereas Earnest declined to answer the question on Tuesday, he confirmed Wednesday that the president does not believe any changes should be made to medical marijuana laws “at this point…”

Although Earnest noted the White House does not believe targeting individual marijuana users is “the best allocation of federal law enforcement resources,” the Obama administration has nonetheless spent considerable funds cracking down on medical marijuana usage, including in states that have legalized the drug.

As the above-quoted Huffington Post article notes, the president’s belief that targeting individual drug users is not “the best allocation of federal law enforcement resources” has not prevented him from presiding over a major increase in federal targeting of medical marijuana, even as compared to the Bush administration.

This announcement is further evidence that the administration is not prepared to significantly roll back the War on Drugs, despite Attorney General Eric Holder’s much-discussed speech last week, which seemed to suggest otherwise but actually resulted in very little real change in policy.

At the same time, public and elite skepticism about the War on Drugs in general is growing, as is public support for marijuana legalization in particular. For that reason, it’s certainly possible that Obama’s and other politicians’ views on these issues will eventually “evolve,” just as they did on gay marriage. Indeed, the White House statement indicates that Obama is not willing to change the legal status of marijuana “at this point,” which suggests that he might potentially change his stance in the future – perhaps when it becomes more politically advantageous to do so.

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