A Florida congressman this week called the Obama Administration’s policy on marijuana “schizophrenic,” according to CBS News.
U.S. Representative John Mica, who chairs the House Oversight Committee’s Government Operations subpanel, suggested the president’s recent comments to The New Yorker on marijuana may contribute to the growing use of marijuana among teens. Despite these comments, the administration continues to oppose state-based efforts to legalize marijuana, Michael Botticelli, Deputy Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told Mica’s subpanel on Tuesday.
The administration has been “consistent in its opposition to attempts to legalize marijuana and other drugs,” Botticelli said. Congress classified marijuana as a harmful drug under the Controlled Substances Act, and “the Department of Justice’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged.”
In his interview with the magazine, President Obama said he thought marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” He said he does not think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, and added smoking marijuana is “not something I encourage.”
Mica said, “Given the recent statements… the president may, in fact, be a major contributor now to some of the declines we see in the perception of risk” associated with the drug. “We’re going from ‘Just say no,’ to ‘I didn’t inhale,’ now it’s ‘Just say maybe.’” He added, “We have the most schizophrenic policy I have ever seen.”
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland defended the president’s approach to marijuana. He said he shares Obama’s concern at the disproportionate number of minorities who are arrested and imprisoned for marijuana use. Cummings said, “It’s one thing when you have equal enforcement, but it’s another thing when some people are engaged in purchasing marijuana in the streets and other ones in the suites. You have many African-American young men… spending long sentences sitting in prison while others law enforcement don’t even touch.”