The Obama administration does not favor a policy change on legalizing marijana “at this point,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Wednesday. He then predicted his answer would generate a lot of buzz on Twitter.
During the White House press briefing a reporter asked Earnest about recent comments made by CNN medical analyst Dr. Sanjay Gupta – once considered for the post of U.S. Surgeon General by the Obama administration – about legalizing marijuana for its potential medical benefits.
“The administration's position on this has been clear and consistent for some time now, that while the prosecution of drug traffickers remains an important priority, the president and administration believes that targeting the individual marijuana users, especially those with serious illnesses and their caregivers, is not the best allocation of federal law enforcement resources,” Earnest said.
A man shows a cannabis sativa plant in Montevideo on December 7, 2012. The Uruguayan lower chamber on July 31, 2013 will vote the legalization of marijuana. Credit: AFP/Getty Images
Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced the Justice Department is taking a more lenient approach to drug prosecutions and sentencing.
He referenced an interview the president did last year with Barbara Walters.
“The president acknowledged that priority here in terms of the dedication of law enforcement resources should be targeted toward drug kingpins, drug traffickers and others who perpetrate violence in the conduct of the drug trade, that that is the best use of our law enforcement resources,” Earnest said. “At the same time, the president does not at this point advocate a change of policy.”
The reporter followed up on whether the administration is open to researching the medical benefits of marijuana.
“I'm not exactly sure what that would require or what changes could be implemented into the law to have an impact on marijuana research,” Earnest said. “For some reason, I have the sneaking suspicion that this is going to get all kinds of traffic on Twitter. I'm predicting that now.”