barack obama

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D.C.: Obama Backs Vote To Legalize Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Obama supports legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in Washington, D.C., as approved by voters of the District of Columbia last month, a White House spokesman said on Friday.

But the President also reluctantly supports and would sign the "cromnibus" government funding bill including a rider which would block the measure, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, reports Devin Dwyer at ABC News. Republican Congressional negotiations quietly sneaked into the $1.1 trillion spending bill a provision which blocks the district from spending any money to enact marijuana legalization.

"We do not believe that Congress should spend a lot of time interfering with the ability of the citizens of the District of Columbia to make decisions related to how they should govern their community," Earnest told ABC's Jonathan Karl.

But despite those concerns, "the President supports the passage of this compromise proposal and would sign it if it arrives on his desk," Earnest said.

D.C. voters approved a referendum last month by an almost 2-to-1 margin to legalize possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and up to three plants for personal use.

District leaders have denounced the anti-marijuana rider in the spending bill as interference in the democratic process. Residents of D.C. do not have voting representation in Congress.

U.S.: Willie Nelson Says Obama 'May Be Happy' About DC Marijuana Legalization


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

President Obama "may be happy" that D.C. voters legalized marijuana in the nation's capital, according to country music legend and stalwart cannabis supporter Willie Nelson.

Nelson, who performed Thursday night at the White House for veterans, says he once smoked a joint on top of the presidential mansion after an appearance there during President Jimmy Carter's administration, reports Aaron C. Davis at The Washington Post.

The country music icon, a close personal friend of Paul Stanford and the Campaign to Restore and Regulate Hemp (CRRH), has given ringing endorsements to the political initiative work of CRRH.

Nelson said in an interview with CNN that he probably wouldn't bring up the topic of marijuana to Obama on Thursday night, but thinks the President is probably sympathetic to the cause.

"I think I realize how he feels about it and I've read some of his books and things about when he was a kid, how he may have delved into that matter a little bit," Nelson said. "I'm sure he's very understanding of what is going on and he may be happy to see it happening."

Colorado: Man Offers Obama a Toke of Marijuana


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bar patron in Denver Tuesday night offered President Obama a joint, asking, "Do you want to hit this?" The President laughed and smiled, but didn't answer as he shook hands with other patrons.

Matt Anton, the man who offered marijuana to the President, posted footage of Obama on his Instagram account with the caption, "Asked him if he wanted a hit of pot ... he laughed! #legalizeit #inhaled," reports Dave Boyer at The Washington Times.

As the President's motorcade came into Denver from the airport, someone had held up a sign reading, "Free Weed for Obama."

After the President greeted a supporter outside the bar who was wearing a horse's head mask, a Time magazine reporter tweeted a Photoshopped picture of Obama confronting an entire group of people with horse heads, with the caption, "The moment POTUS remembered Maureen Dowd's warning about the Denver cookies."

The President has expressed support for allowing legalization to proceed in Colorado and Washington. "It's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished," Obama told an interviewer in January.

U.S.: Rev. Sharpton's National Action Network Convention To Address Failed Drug War


President Obama, AG Holder, NY Gov. Cuomo, NYC Mayor DeBlasio and DPA’s Art Way to Speak at National Action Network (NAN) Convention April 9-14

Convention to Address Major Civil Rights Issues, Including the Failed Drug War and Mass Incarceration

President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio will all join Reverend Al Sharpton at his National Action Network’s annual national convention being held April 9-12 in New York, NY.

The conference is being billed as the largest civil rights convening of the year bringing the nation’s top activists, political strategists and leading academia together to create an action plan for a civil rights agenda. Participants will address key policy issues such as jobs, voter ID and immigration; which will be key in this midterm election year.

The conference is also focusing on the failed drug war and mass incarceration. A panel called “Up in Smoke: Banning of Menthol, Legalization of Marijuana & Criminalization of African Americans” will address racial justice and the war on drugs.

"We are at a critical point where momentum to end the drug war and mass incarceration is gaining traction,” said Art Way, Senior Policy Manager, Colorado, of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “It's not time to let up, it's time to ramp up."

Texas: Sen. Ted Cruz Says Not Enforcing Federal Marijuana Laws 'Dangerous To Liberty'


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has once again blasted President Obama for not enforcing federal marijuana laws in states which have legalized cannabis.

Sen. Cruz said he supported an "intelligent conversation" about drug policy in a new interview with the libertarian magazine Reason, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story. But Cruz certainly didn't provide any intelligent conversation, himself.

"I will say one thing that's been dismaying about the Obama Administration," Cruz said. "The Obama Administration's approach to drug policy is to simply announce that across the country, it is going to stop enforcing certain drug laws.

"Now, that may or may not be a good policy, but I would suggest that should concern anyone -- it should even concern libertarians who support that policy outcome -- because the idea that the President simply says criminal laws that are on the books, we're going to ignore," Cruz said. "That is a very dangerous precedent."

Cruz claimed Obama overstepped his authority by declining to arrest marijuana users and sellers in Colorado and Washington. Only Congress could enact such a policy, he said.

U.S.: Medical Marijuana Advocates Say President Obama Has Authority Over Classification


Obama Administration and Congress can each reclassify marijuana for medical use

Medical marijuana advocates are telling President Obama he has the power to reclassify marijuana after he said on Friday that it is up to Congress. In an exclusive CNN interview, President Barack Obama responded to a question about the federal government's classification of marijuana by saying that, "what is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress."

"President Obama just told the nation during his State of the Union address that because Congress has been unable to act, he would take executive action where he could on behalf of helping the American people," said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "The president has the authority to reclassify marijuana and could exercise that authority at any time."

In addition to Congress, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the U.S. Attorney General have the authority to reschedule marijuana. Congress in 1970 classified marijuana as a Schedule I substance, meaning it is considered a dangerous drug with a high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical value.

Since then, scientists have discovered the plant has unique therapeutic potential to safely treat a remarkably broad range of serious medical conditions, from multiple sclerosis to cancer.

U.S.: President Obama Says Easing Up On Marijuana Is Congress's Job


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Barack Obama said in a new interview that it's up to Congress to remove marijuana from its listing as a Schedule I controlled substance, implying that he might support such a move.

In an interview with CNN that aired on Friday, Obama was asked about recent remarks he made to The New Yorker that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, reports Zeke J Miller at Time. The President was asked if he would push to remove cannabis from the Drug Enforcement Administration's list of the most dangerous drugs.

"First of all, what is and isn't a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress," Obama replied.

"I stand by my belief, based, I think, on the scientific evidence, that marijuana, for casual users, individual users, is subject to abuse, just like alcohol is and should be treated as a public health problem and challenge," the President said. "But as I said in the interview, my concern is when you end up having very heavy criminal penalties for individual users that have been applied unevenly, and in some cases, with a racial disparity."

A spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) had tweeted on Wednesday that Attorney General Eric Holder could reclassify marijuana after a scientific review, but that it was "not likely given current science."

U.S.: NY Sen. Chuck Schumer and TX Gov. Rick Perry Support Right To Legalize Marijuana


Growing Bi-Partisan Support on Heels of Obama Calling New Laws Legalizing Marijuana in Colorado and Washington ‘Important’

Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) on Monday expressed his support for allowing states to move forward with taxing and regulating marijuana, telling MSNBC that “having the states experiment is a good idea.”

Schumer, the senior U.S. Senator from New York and the third ranking Democrat in the Senate, made the statement just days after similar comments by Texas Governor and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Perry defended the right of Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana and said that Texas had implemented “policies that start us toward a decriminalization.” Perry was speaking on a panel about drug policy along with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, who both spoke out in favor of significant drug policy reform.

While Schumer and Perry do not as yet support legalizing marijuana either in their own states or nationally, both now support the rights of individual states to enact and implement such laws free from federal interference, according to the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA).

U.S.: Senator Ted Cruz Attacks Obama For Not Arresting Marijuana Users In Colorado


By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

GOP Senator Ted Cruz of Texas on Friday said he wants President Barack Obama to lock up people in Colorado who are violating federal law by smoking marijuana.

"A whole lot of folks now are talking about legalizing pot," Senator Cruz said during his keynote speech at the policy orientation session of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, reports Eric W. Dolan at The Raw Story. "And you can make arguments on that issue. You can make reasonable arguments on that issue.

"The President earlier this past year announced the Department of Justice is going to stop prosecuting certain drug crimes," Cruz said. "Didn't change the law."

Obama's Justice Department in August announced that it would not target adults for arrest when they use marijuana in compliance with state laws.

Cruz said the Obama Administration should continue arresting people for cannabis until federal law is changed.

"You can go to Congress, you can get a conversation, you could get Democrats and Republicans who would say, 'We ought to change our drug policy in some way,' and you could have a real conversation, and you could have hearings, you could look at the problem, you could discuss common sense changes that maybe should happen or shouldn't happen," Cruz said.

U.S.: ‘Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users’ Named by Marijuana Policy Project


Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Bill Clinton, Clarence Thomas, and Stephen Colbert top list released Wednesday by Marijuana Policy Project

A list of the “Top 50 Most Influential Marijuana Users” in the United States was released Wednesday by the Marijuana Policy Project.

The MPP's annual list is topped by President Barack Obama, media mogul Oprah Winfrey, former President Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, and television show host Stephen Colbert. They are followed by television show host Jon Stewart, entertainer and entrepreneur Jay-Z, Secretary of State John Kerry, business magnate George Soros, and comedian Bill Maher.

“The goal here is to dispel the myth that marijuana users are ‘losers’ who lack motivation and highlight the fact that they are typically productive and oftentimes quite successful,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “As this list demonstrates, many of our nation’s most successful citizens have used marijuana.”

The list is composed of Americans who have used marijuana at least once during their lifetimes, including some who speak openly about their current marijuana use. They were selected based on their “power to influence cultural and social attitudes, political clout, individual wealth, and … media profile,” which is the criteria used by Out Magazine to select its “Power 50” list of LGBT Americans. The list includes known supporters and opponents of marijuana policy reform.

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