The day after Donald Trump was voted in as President, was the day former President Barack Obama spoke out about his opinions regarding cannabis legalization and where it should be heading. In an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone on the 9th of November to be exact, Obama spoke honestly about his thoughts on the subject:
“Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse. And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it."
Obama, the only president in the United States to actually admit to smoking pot, went on to tell Rolling Stone about the current legal patchwork, “where something that’s legal in one state could get you a 20-year prison sentence in another” is “untenable”. He finished that statement by suggesting that he believes the federal policy cannabis may change much quicker than we think, just as it did with same-sex marriage.
But Does This Statement Mean Anything for the Future of Marijuana?
Don’t get too excited people; I highly doubt that the president would have spent his final weeks re-writing America’s drug laws. We must remember that Obama has made similar comments in the past, such has interview with the New Yorker, where he stated that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of the impact on the individual consumer."
However, if you read the Rolling Stones article and wondered why the president never changed the federal laws himself, you’re not alone, but he explains himself in the interview, where he answers:
“Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict,” he said, “but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”
But marijuana advocates have voiced their own opinions on the presidents’ interview, and the general consensus was his actions were too little too late. We all watched him during his presidency, and we all saw how he wasn’t very vocal on his stance on weed when the DEA were making their decision on whether or not to reschedule cannabis, and now with President Trump in power, it doesn’t look like that will be happening anytime soon.
But we can always hope.