The White House has rejected several marijuana legalization petitions, one of which called on the federal government to stop interfering with state marijuana legalization efforts.
“As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem,” wrote Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in a statement released late on Friday. “We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.”
The statement came in response to a petition submitted by retired Baltimore narcotics officer Neill Franklin as part of the White House’s “We The People” project, an effort to allow ordinary Americans to gain the attention of policymakers through an online portal at the White House website. Any petition garnering 5,000 signatures within 30 days of submission is guaranteed a response from the White House; Franklin’s petition received more than 17,000.
“It’s maddening that the administration wants to continue failed prohibition polices that do nothing to reduce drug use and succeed only in funneling billions of dollars into the pockets of the cartels and gangs that control the illegal market,” said Franklin, who serves as executive director of advocacy group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, in a statement released Saturday.
Franklin’s petition comes as federal prosecutors have escalated enforcement actions against medical marijuana dispensary owners in California, vowing to shutter state-licensed businesses and threatening landlords with property seizures for violating federal drug laws. Franklin has also called on the president to remember his campaign promise not to waste government resources interfering with state-regulated marijuana dispensaries.
The White House’s rejection statement was directed at seven other marijuana-related petitions, which together garnered more than 150,000 signatures. One such petition, which called for marijuana to be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol, received almost 75,000 signatures.
“Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses,” the White House wrote in its official response. “That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.”