Former First Lady Michelle Obama got candid in her new memoir, “Becoming,” which includes a brief admission that she smoked marijuana as a teen.
In the book, released on Tuesday, Obama reminisces about her youthful transgressions, at one point writing that she and a high school boyfriend named David “fooled around and smoked pot in his car.”
She doesn’t get much further into it than that. Though she does allude to a “looser, more wild” young Barack Obama in another section. As a teen, the future president “smoked pot in the lush volcanic foothills of Oahu,” she wrote.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers came together on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to chat about their shared interest in marijuana reform for about 20 minutes on Tuesday night.
“Medical marijuana is like the Fourth of July,” Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) said. “It is almost universally accepted.”
Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) took the opportunity to announce that he will soon introduce legislation — with the surprising support of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) — that would ease restrictions on cannabis research:
“First, it will increase the number of people who are growing medical-grade cannabis for research purposes.
“Second, it will end the gag rule at the VA that precludes physicians from being able to consult and speak with their patients about the laws in their particular States.
“Third, it will create a safe harbor so that some of the finest medical institutions and universities in this great country will be able to research and partner with private sector entities to determine the potential that medical cannabis can have to improve people’s quality of life.
“And finally, this legislation will end the prohibition from having commercial, for-profit entities working in concert, in collaboration with some of those very universities and medical institutions.”
Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who convened the floor gathering, tore into U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s anti-marijuana moves.
“It is difficult for me to comprehend the logic behind blocking scientific research to analyze the medical applications of cannabis because I believe it is critical for policymakers to possess objective data on the effectiveness of cannabis as an alternative treatment for anxiety, depression, pain, psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder, opioid addiction, and epilepsy. We owe it to American patients to open up the field of research on this,” he said on the floor. “Now, the only logical explanation I can think of is that the Attorney General knows the facts of this field of research won’t support his policies or the witch hunt he and his Department have been conducting on legal State-regulated operators across the country.”
Curbelo argued that Sessions’s rescission of an Obama-era policy protecting state marijuana laws was a gift to drug cartels.
“As I have said before in this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, the best ally that illegal operators like drug cartels and drug traffickers–who do not pay taxes, who target children, who have no safety standards for their products–the best ally they have are the policies that the Attorney General has embraced,” he said. “Because by continuing to hamstring Federal research, over tax, and stoke uncertainty, legally operating businesses that are State regulated, that pay taxes, that are helping patients who are suffering, can no longer compete. And when these businesses can no longer compete, people turn to the black market. So inadvertently, I hope, the Attorney General is actually doing a great favor to the criminals operating outside the law by punishing law-abiding Americans trying to control the substance and make it safer.”
The Florida GOP congressman closed by appealing to fellow Republicans’ professed reverence for individual liberty.
“Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of colleagues in this Chamber who say people should be able to buy whatever health insurance or get whatever kind of health coverage they want, and the government should interfere as little as possible, and I agree,” he said. “But on this issue, there seems to be a hypocrisy, and many colleagues want to impose a Federal view or a Federal perspective on States, on the people of States like Florida, who have already decided explicitly and clearly and overwhelmingly.”
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
The Obama administration was perhaps the closest presidential ally the cannabis community has ever had. But his policies were mostly indifferent towards legalization, despite small steps to reduce the Justice Department and the DEA’s efforts towards marijuana enforcement. At best, the cannabis community could rely on the administration to turn a blind eye.
But it turns out the Office of National Drug Control Policy felt differently. This office serves as the home of the nation’s “drug czar.” Unlike the DEA, which enforces laws regarding drugs, the ONDCP helps the government decide on those laws. former deputy director of the ONDCP, A. Thomas McLellan, who worked during Obama’s first term in office reported,
“ONDCP was in favor of decriminalizing but not legalizing.”
A law passed in 1988 officially launched the ONDCP and stated, “the legalization of illegal drugs is an unconscionable surrender in the war on drugs.” When the office needed to be reauthorized, additional language was added that required those working for the ONDCP to “oppose any attempt to legalize” cannabis, and not use any federal funding to research the scenario of legalization. Because of this directive, those working for the ONDCP under Obama felt they couldn’t openly discuss their views on legalization, despite working in a government office whose directive is to advise and shape drug policy.
“It forced the office to take a policy position that it may or may not agree to,” said Michael Botticelli, former director of the ONDCP. “[It] hamstrings you into a policy position that might be the policy of the day but that might change.”
Those few words directing the ONDCP to disregard cannabis legalization hurt the legitimacy of the office and sent mixed signals to cannabis activists. One former staffer said the language, “makes it look like the office’s primary purpose is to oppose marijuana.”
“The existence of that statute, that prohibition, has been something that our movement has held up to criticize ONDCP. Taking that off the table would be good for us and it would also be good for them. … It makes them look political in ways that their scientists probably don’t want to be.”
An attempt was made to remove language that was stifling the ONDCP, and Botticelli had to work around the language as well as his own stance when fielding questions about the bill. When the bill failed, Botticelli and his office continued to work around the policy itself by supporting drug rehabilitation and awareness regarding drug addiction, a push towards making drug abuse a medical condition rather than a criminal one.
“We can’t arrest and incarcerate addiction out of people,” Botticelli said during a “60 Minutes” interview in 2015.
“Not only do I think it’s really inhumane, but it’s ineffective and it cost us billions upon billions of dollars to keep doing this.”
Botticelli then reinforced this view when the District of Columbia pushed for legalization. He said,
“I might not agree about legalization, but I do agree with our own ability to spend our own money the way that we want to.”
But this is as far as the ONDCP went. Drug legalization is a political issue that’s laced with moral judgement and false data, and the lawmakers responsible for funding his office were also responsible for the failed bill that would have allowed the ONDCP to truly serve their purpose.
Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems to be reactivating old policies that have proven ineffective against substance abuse. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has called upon federal prosecutors to return to a “tough on crime” approach towards sentencing. “It seems like we are moving backwards instead of forward,” said Botticelli. “And to a position that I think doesn’t have a lot of science and evidence. We’ve tried that approach for a very long time, and it doesn’t seem to really have made a significant difference.”
President Barack Obama’s high school and collegiate cannabis use is no secret. Obama discusses his hot-boxing Hawaiian “choom gang” in his memoir and his college toking even got its own Key & Peele skit. The current president even invented the term “roof hits” for his friends.
But aside from democratic comments on marijuana reform, Obama has never even attempted to make light of his youthful foray with marijuana–until last night. Commenting on his suddenly high ratings at the annual Correspondent’s Dinner, Obama made the perfect comparison between his newfound popularity and his college years:
Accompanied by a 50 foot inflatable joint, hundreds of people gathered in Washington D.C. on Saturday April 2 to smoke cannabis in front of the White House for the Reschedule 420 demonstration.
The smoke-in, organized by Adam Eidinger of DCMJ, was reportedly inspired by Bill Maher’s “For the Love of Cannabis” segment on HBO where Maher smoked a joint live on television with his guests and criticized President Obama for ignoring the need for cannabis policy reform in the United States.
50ft inflatable joint at Reschedule 420 demonstration on April 2. (Photo by John Kagia /Whaxy).
Participants at the Reschedule 420 demonstration gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue to urge President Obama to de-schedule cannabis before he leaves office.
No arrests were made and only two people were detained, as hundreds of protesters publicly smoked marijuana, dabbed cannabis concentrates and ate edibles in front of the home of the President of the United States.
A member of the Whaxy Team was also on the scene to share his experience with those who were not able to attend.
“DCPD and the secret service were very restrained. I only saw two people get stopped even though there was a thick cloud of smoke and people dabbing with blowtorches.”
Said Bernie Canter,
“I didn’t think it was possible to be hot-boxed outdoors, but you learn something new everyday.”
Adam Eidinger of DCMJ, the event organizer, can be seen in this photo wearing the red hat and sunglasses to the right of the man in the green hat.
Participants holding up the 50ft. inflatable joint in front of the White House.
There was an abortion protest happening in front of the White House at the same time, so people from the cannabis camp held up black sheets to cover up the gruesome pictures of dismembered fetuses during the Reschedule 420 demonstration to prevent the two from being conflated.