Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

House Republicans to Challenge Obama’s Mixed Signals on Marijuana

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Mica scheduled a hearing about the White House’s comments on the use of marijuana. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The same day President Barack Obama suggested to CNN’s Jake Tapper that revising the nation’s marijuana policies is a task for Congress, a House panel announced it would hold a hearing on the White House’s “mixed signals” on the drug.

“The administration’s schizophrenic messaging and enforcement related to the commercial use of marijuana has left the states and law enforcement in a difficult and untenable position,” said Rep. John L. Mica, R-Fla., who is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations. “With the president’s recent remarks, we need to find out where the administration is heading.”

Mica’s hearing, scheduled for Feb. 4, comes as more and more members of Congress are beginning to weigh in on the contentious issue.

In the interview with Tapper that aired Friday, Obama said that it was Congress’ responsibility, not his own, to pave the way for reclassifying marijuana into a lower tier of narcotics — it is currently considered a “Schedule 1,” along with other illegal drugs such as heroin.

He also reiterated comments he had made in a recent New Yorker article about the dangers of legalizing a drug that “for casual, individual users, is subject to abuse, like alcohol is.”

Obama also caveated that current models for prosecuting marijuana users are troubling in that they eat up scarce law enforcement resources and tend to be “applied unevenly and in some cases with racial disparity.

“I do offer a cautionary note. … We’re going to see what happens in the experiments in Colorado and Washington,” Obama continued, noting the two states where certain amounts of marijuana have recently been legalized. “Those who think legalization is a panacea, I think they have to ask themselves some tough questions, too, because if we start having a situation where big corporations with a lot of resources and distribution and marketing arms are suddenly going out there peddling marijuana, then the levels of abuse that might take place are going to be higher.”

Members of Congress, meanwhile, aren’t the only ones noting Obama’s mixed signals on the issue.

“It’s very unfortunate that President Obama appears to want to pass the buck to Congress when it comes to marijuana laws, especially when his State of the Union speech this week focused on actions he can take to move America forward without having to wait for the legislative branch to get its act together,” said Tom Angell, president of Marijuana Majority.

Under Obama, the Justice Department has decided not to enforce the marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington for now, even as his White House website continues to have a fact sheet opposing the legalization of marijuana, including for medical use.

  • Jose

    Someone should first drug test the House Republicans for psychotropics like Prozac and brain clouding blood thinners.

  • A Freedom Fighter

    The GOP tack so far has been a direct copy of Joseph Goebbels propaganda machine in WWII Germany. Propped up though Koch billions corporate finance. Propagandist lies using minority bashing to forward GOP corporate government agendas. Blame it on Obama’s birth certificate, blame it on illegal immigrants, blame it on anyone bu t Walmart, and the other big corps that DELIBERATELY EXPORTED OUR AMERICAN JOBS to China, India, Pakistan, Mexico….slave labor markets. Now as normal Americans we know what it was like for honorable folk in WWII Germany who had to suffer the Nazis. The difference is this time the Nazis are losing and see how they behave. Government shutdowns and more lies than a used car salesman. Like little children throwing temper tantrums.

  • Shepherd Yerusalem

    Well the Only thing dangerous about Marijuana are the cops who shoot people for having it:

    Number of American deaths per year that result directly or primarily from the following selected causes nationwide, according to World Almanacs, Life Insurance Actuarial (death) Rates, and the last 20 years of U.S. Surgeon Generals’ reports.

    TOBACCO – 340,000 to 450,000

    ALCOHOL (Not including 50% of all highway deaths and 65% of all murders) – 150,000+

    ASPIRIN (Including deliberate overdose) – 180 to 1,000+

    CAFFEINE (From stress, ulcers, and triggering irregular heartbeats, etc.) – 1,000 to 10,000

    “LEGAL” DRUG OVERDOSE (Deliberate or accidental) from legal, prescribed or patent medicines and/or mixing with alcohol – e.g. Valium/alcohol – 14,000 to 27,000

    ILLICIT DRUG OVERDOSE – (Deliberate or accidental) from all illegal drugs – 3,800 to 5,200


    (Marijuana users also have the same or lower incidence of murders and highway deaths and accidents than the general non-marijuana using population as a whole. Cancer Study, UCLA; U.S. Funded ($6 million), First & Second Jamaican Studies, 1968 to 1974; Costa Rican Studies, 1980 to 1982; et al. LOWEST TOXICITY 100% of the studies done at dozens of American universities and research facilities show pot toxicity does not exist. Medical history does not record anyone dying from an overdose of marijuana (UCLA, Harvard, Temple, etc.)

  • Mike

    If marijuana is illegal, why is it easier for me to obtain than alcohol? If I need to buy beer, I’ve got to get in my car and drive to a liquor store. If I want to buy weed, I have to walk next door to my neighbors house to get some home grown greens.

    …Of course the above comparison isn’t really fair because I never touch alcohol. That stuff is nasty.

  • thalightguy

    The SUPREME LAW OF THE LAND the United States Constitution demands the
    President be a “natural born Citizen”. Something Obama is not.

    A person born with citizenship to another country may be a citizen of
    the United States if born within the borders of the U.S. and subject to
    the jurisdiction thereof or born outside of its borders to at least one
    citizen Parent, but they are not a “natural born Citizen”. A
    Constitutional “natural born Citizen” is a person who is born with sole
    citizenship to the U.S.

    At adoption the U.S. Constitution did not say who the “citizens of the
    United States” were, it only gave Congress the authority to Establish a
    Uniform Rule of Naturalization.

    After adoption before these rules were established there was only one
    way to become a citizen of the U.S., this was by being born within the
    U.S. to two U.S. citizen parents. These children are the ones who the
    Founders understood to be the “natural born Citizens”.

    Persons born outside of the U.S. to one or two U.S. citizen parents are
    not “natural born Citizens”, if they were Congress would not of needed
    to use the Authority granted to them by the Constitution to establish
    these children as “citizens of the United States”.

    The definition of a “natural born Citizen” is the same today as when it
    was inserted into the Constitution, it has not changed and will not
    change unless the “phrase” is removed by Amendment.

  • Bitter Cold

    While liberty is not democracy, democratic methods can support liberty where they offer us input into the decisions that affect our liberty.

  • firetheliberals

    Harrigan testifies the we should not “confuse science with popular opinion”. WTF, more obfuscation from the DEA. The science is in retards, weed cures many diseases. Maybe we take a phrase from the Vietnam era and call the DEA, babykillers by being prohibitionists.
    No medical value my a $$.

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