Politics of Pot: President Obama Rides the Fence on Marijuana Legalization while Drug Policy and Prevention Experts Ask for Clarity

January 20, 2014
For Immediate Release
For More Information Contact: Lana Beck (727) 828-0211 or (727) 403-7571

Politics of Pot: President Obama Rides the Fence on Marijuana Legalization while Drug Policy and Prevention Experts Ask for Clarity

 (St. Petersburg, FL) In an article published in The New Yorker by Dan Remnick, President Obama chronicles his time in office, personal experiences and visions of the future.  He also casually discusses with reporter Remnick his firm position on certain social issues but rides the fence on marijuana legalization. His laissez-faire attitude about legalization has drug policy and prevention experts scratching their heads in confusion as to why the President will not give clear guidance on this important issue.     

 “President Obama is surrounded by a myriad of experts who have voiced serious concerns about the harms of marijuana and rejected legalization, so either he is seriously ill-informed about the issue or is completely ignoring warnings from his highly-esteemed advisors,” says Calvina Fay, Executive Director of Drug Free America Foundation and Save Our Society From Drugs. “Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske, has stated on numerous occasions that ‘marijuana legalization is a dangerous social experiment.’ Yet the President said, ‘it’s important for it to go forward,’ meaning the legalization of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), indicates on www.drugabuse.gov that ‘increases in potency may account for the rise in emergency department visits involving marijuana use. For experienced users, it may mean a greater risk for addiction if they are exposing them-selves to high doses on a regular basis.’ According to the National Institutes of Health, one in six kids who try pot before 18 will abuse it or become addicted. Other studies have also shown that regular use of marijuana is robbing our youth of their IQ points, memory and in some cases, their mental health. The American Medical Association (AMA) has come out against the legal sales of marijuana due to public health concerns. Further, the majority of other major health organizations share the AMA’s sentiments. However, President Obama claims it is no more harmful than alcohol. He casually compares pot to alcohol and tobacco as though none of these drugs are public health threats,” continued Fay.

 “The President can oppose the legalization of marijuana and still make thought-provoking changes to drug policies.  Legalization is one extreme that the President should push back against. His lack of a formal position on what he is or is not supporting is an irresponsible move for such a person in the most highly-regarded position in this country.” concluded Fay.

 “It appears that President Obama is ignoring the science, but favoring the politics of pot,” said Dr. Eric Voth, Chair of the Institute on Global Drug Policy. “The President can be concerned about incarceration rates and concerned about the harms of marijuana use at the same time. Marijuana is hiding under a shroud of protection that has been created by the marijuana lobby. It gives the public a mistaken sense of harmlessness, when in fact it is a serious drug of abuse with dangerous medical, psychiatric and social consequences.  The President needs to pay close attention to his own experts at NIDA and across the country that recognize the critical importance of marijuana in relationship to mental health and substance abuse,” concluded Voth.

 If you would like to set up an interview about this issue with Calvina Fay, or other drug policy experts, please contact Lana Beck at (727) 828-0211 or (727) 403-7571.

 Drug Free America Foundation, Inc. is a national and international drug policy organization promoting effective sound drug policies, education and prevention. www.dfaf.org.

 Save Our Society From Drugs (S.O.S.) takes a comprehensive approach to promote sound drug policy that includes education, prevention, abstinence-based treatment, scientific research, and community awareness. www.saveoursociety.org.

 The Institute on Global Drug Policy, an international alliance of physicians, scientists, attorneys, and drug experts, advocates on illicit and licit drug abuse issues. The International Scientific and Medical Forum on Drug Abuse, a brain trust of leading researchers and concerned physicians, helps to dispel misinformation related to current drug issues in the media. www.globaldrugpolicy.org.