The DEA’s decision to stay steadfastly anti-marijuana legalization, even in the face of growing tolerance and embrace of the plant by state and local authorities, was expected. It didn’t change much, but it did bring the question of national legalization to the forefront.
Politicians all over the country have commented on the decision. Oregon Gov. Kate Brown called the DEA’s decision to slightly ease cannabis research, but leave all other legal aspects as they were, “shortsighted” and said in a statement that it “only went half the distance.” Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said that the federal agency’s move was unexpected, but thought that his state’s university researchers could nonetheless take advantage of the new guidelines.
Meanwhile, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton diplomatically celebrated the expansion of medical marijuana research, while promising that she’ll do more once elected to the big house. “We applaud the steps taken today by the Obama Administration to remove research barriers that have significantly limited the scientific study of marijuana,” Clinton senior policy advisor Maya Harris said in a statement.
“As president, Hillary will build on the important steps announced today by rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance,” Harris continued. “She will also ensure Colorado, and other states that have enacted marijuana laws, can continue to serve as laboratories of democracy.”
So Hillary wants to reschedule weed if/when she becomes President. That is great. The only question then is: can she actually do that? Does the president actually have the right to change the status of a controlled substance?
When trying to answer whether President Obama had that ability, writers at Fusion came upon several hurdles that a Commander in Chief would have to jump in order to legalize marijuana at the federal level. One little problem might be that it would be sort of illegal. The US signed a treaty with the UN back in 1961 agreeing not to make cannabis legit, except for medicinal and scientific uses. The UN doesn’t even like that fact that weed is legal on a state level in the US.
The President could work with congress to alter the Controlled Substances Act, but if the GOP holds onto House in the coming election (which is not unlikely), then we’ll have another one of those dysfunctional president-Congress relationships we had during the Obama presidency that resembled a bitter marriage on its last legs more than a cooperative democratic government.
So, it might be easier for Clinton to drop a nuclear bomb than to legalize weed, regardless of her promises. Bummer.
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