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Fri Dec 14, 2012, 10:58 AM

Obama Doesn’t Need Congress to Change Federal Law Regarding Marijuana

(I love our president, but

When it comes to how he has handled the federal/state conflict regarding medical marijuana and he will handle now that two states have adopted full legalization, President Obama has a habit of lying to try to shift responsibility on to Congress. Once again, in an interview with Barbara Walters that will air this evening, Obama heavily implied that he would need Congress to change marijuana’s legal status. From ABC News:

Obama told Walters he does not – “at this point” – support widespread legalization of marijuana. But he cited shifting public opinion and limited government resources as reasons to find a middle ground on punishing use of the drug.

“This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”

With 99 percent of federal laws this would be the case, but the Controlled Substance Act is fairly unique. The law explicitly gives the executive branch the right to change the legal status of any drug without Congressional involvement. If the administration, after examining the latest scientific research, determines that cannabis shouldn’t be Schedule I it has the power to move it to a lower schedule, which would make medical marijuana legal under federal law, or even unschedule it all together, which would effectively legalize it.



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Reply Obama Doesn’t Need Congress to Change Federal Law Regarding Marijuana (Original post)
kpete Dec 2012 OP
Laelth Dec 2012 #1
struggle4progress Dec 2012 #2

Response to kpete (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 11:02 AM

1. Interesting. Thanks for the info. on the Controlled substance act. n/t


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Response to kpete (Original post)

Fri Dec 14, 2012, 12:54 PM

2. FireDogLake will never miss an opportunity to accuse the President of lying. That's because

FireDogLake is controlled by people like the Reaganite Bruce Fein -- and like Glenn Greenwald, whose agenda for some years now has been to try to split progressives away from the Democrats, in hopes of gathering them into the libertarian camp

I can't find any evidence that Jon Walker has the legal background or skills necessary to provide an informed opinion on (say) the President's actual role in Schedule I classifications or declassifications. The President does have a respectable legal background, and he has easy access to a number of legal experts

It is true that 21 USC § 811 does provides that ... Except as provided in subsections (d) and (e) of this section, the Attorney General may by rule ... (2) remove any drug or other substance from the schedules if he finds that the drug or other substance does not meet the requirements for inclusion in any schedule ... but subsection (d) (for example) contemplates US conformity with international treaties, conventions, or protocols

As Congress itself explicitly listed "Marihuana" in the original Schedule I, it seems possible that expert opinion could be divided on the question, to what extent the Executive may override the original Congressional Schedule I determinations, so that a unilateral Executive attempt to remove a drug from Schedule I might produce a litigable controversy

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