DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: President Barack Obama isn’t looking to change current federal laws dictating the classification of marijuana, his spokesman explained Wednesday.
Josh Earnest, the deputy press secretary, said Obama “does not, at this point, advocate a change in the law” that places marijuana in the same class of drugs as heroin, ecstasy and psychedelic mushrooms, and which deems cannabis to have no medical use.
Responding to a question from CNN Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin, Earnest described the Obama administration’s position on marijuana as mainly focused on prosecuting drug traffickers rather than individual users.
“The administration’s position on this has been clear and consistent for some time now,” he said. “While the prosecution of drug traffickers remains an important priority, the president and the administration believe that the targeting of individual marijuana users, especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers, is not the best allocation of federal law enforcement resources.”
A day earlier, Earnest said he couldn’t say whether or not the president’s personal views on medical marijuana had changed as he had not seen a column and documentary written by CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, which detailed Gupta’s own shift on the issue.
Obama considered naming Gupta as surgeon general in 2009, but the neurosurgeon later said he withdrew his name so he could maintain his surgical career and continue spending time with his family.
Gupta’s online essay on marijuana, published August 9, was titled “Why I changed my mind on weed.” In it, he described changing his own stance on medical marijuana after researching the topic for his CNN documentary “Weed.”
He also apologized for what he said was his misguided previous stance.