In a CNN special to be aired on Sunday, not only will President Barack Obama state his full support of medical marijuana, he’ll also advocate for alternative models of drug abuse treatment which don’t involve incarceration.
The television special, called “Weed 3,” features CNN’s chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon who came to support medical marijuana after reviewing the evidence. This time around, he’ll be delving into the politics of medical marijuana research.
Obama has previously predicted that more states will follow the lead of Washington and Colorado in legalizing recreational marijuana, and confirmed that although marijuana is still illegal on the federal level, the Department of Justice will look the other way.
Gupta and Obama briefly discussed the recent bipartisan bill on the Senate floor introduced by Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, which proposes to reschedule marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2.
Gupta wanted to know directly if Obama supports Booker’s bill. Obama responded:
You know, I think I’d have to take a look at the details, but I’m on record as saying that not only do I think carefully prescribed medical use of marijuana may in fact be appropriate and we should follow the science as opposed to ideology on this issue, but I’m also on record as saying that the more we treat some of these issues related to drug abuse from a public health model and not just from an incarceration model, the better off we’re going to be.
Obama cited the declining usage rates of tobacco in the United States as an instance of how effective public health models can be if taken seriously. All this can be accomplished without jail sentences.
“You know, one of the great victories of this country has been our ability to reduce incidences of smoking, increase the incidences of seat belt use,” Obama told Gupta. “You know, we save tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of lives every single year. We didn’t throw anybody in jail; we just made sure that they were well-informed and if somebody has an addiction, we made sure that we made it easy for them to get help.”
In late February, Obama said that states have the option of discouraging marijuana in the same way public health models have discouraged tobacco – through education as opposed to a heavy-handed approach which locks away non-violent drug offenders.
“If the president means what he says about following science, then there’s no question he should support legislation to move marijuana out of Schedule I, a category that’s supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value,” Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told The Daily Caller News Foundation, adding:
And, since it’s so hard to get anything through Congress these days, he should even do more than that. He should exercise his power under the Controlled Substances Act to administratively reschedule marijuana right away. The only thing stopping him from doing that is his own reluctance to follow through on his stated principle of letting science dictate policy.
This report, by Jonah Bennett, was cross-posted by arrangement with the Daily Caller News Foundation.