WASHINGTON: With Washington’s top attorney girding his loins for a possible fight over the state’s legal marijuana system and with the state far down the road in implementing I-502 … with national polls completing an about face on marijuana that seems to grow more pronounced with each new poll
Nevertheless, the White House and the nation’s top attorney, Eric Holder, have remained mum about how the federal government, which lists cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic, will act on marijuana or even if it will act at all.
That silence is keeping our state on its toes for sure:
“Obviously I want to avoid a lawsuit if at all possible, but we’ll just see where this goes,” Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson told The Huffington Post. “We have a legal team, and I’ve asked them to prepare for a worst-case scenario, which would be a lawsuit. Again, we want to avoid that. I communicated that to Eric Holder earlier in the year, but we want to prepare for whatever eventuality may come along.”
Now, a video is getting around in which White House press secretary Josh Earnest wouldn’t comment on marijuana at a press briefing in D.C. today, reports Buzzfeed.
The art of evasion:
“… I have to confess I did not see the Sanjay Gupta column that you are referring to so it’s hard for me to comment on it at this point.”
So, we’ve asked a pro-legalization group what would they want the president to say.
Here are the answers we got via email from Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority:
What would you like him to say?
The White House should announce that the president finally intends to follow through on his 2008 campaign pledge to respect state marijuana laws. Doing so would put the administration squarely in line with the 60% of Americans who want the feds to let states set their own marijuana laws without harassment (according to Pew). He’s also got cover from the local officials that comprise the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which recently unanimously passed a resolution urging that states and cities should be able to set marijuana policies that work best for their own communities.
What do you think is politically practical for him to say?
Polls show that legalizing marijuana is now a mainstream issue and that a super-majority of voters want the federal government to refrain from enforcing its prohibitions in states that have opted for a different approach. There are virtually no serious voices clamoring for a continued federal crackdown, so any movement in the pro-reform direction would likely benefit the president politically.
Wouldn’t Obama’s backing polarize the process in Congress?
While there are a few pending marijuana bills in Congress, I’m not sure there’s actually much in the way of ‘process’ to be impeded at this point. I actually think having the president use the bully pulpit on this issue, in part as a demonstration to other elected officials that there’d be widespread praise and very little backlash, could go a long way toward getting more observers to realize that this is now a mainstream issue and that politicians don’t need to fear 1980′s-style ‘soft on crime’ attacks any more. Indeed, there was widespread praise following Eric Holder’s recent speech against mass incarceration. The only critical voices I saw were ones pointing out that the attorney general’s proposed reforms didn’t go nearly far enough.