President Obama has no plans to take further actions toward reforming marijuana laws before the end of his term, according to a top White House aide.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Dan Pfeiffer, senior advisor to the president for strategy and communications, was asked if his boss will endorse legalizing marijuana in the next two years.
“He’s done two things on this,” said Pfeiffer. “One, the attorney general has dealt with sentencing disparities with focus, and we have given, within the constraints we have, appropriate deference to the states of Washington and Colorado. And we don’t have anything additional planned on that… Nothing.”
Mike Liszewski, director of government affairs at Americans for Safe Access, called the comments “disappointing” and said there’s more the president can do to “continue the current federal trend toward ending the crackdown on state marijuana laws.” He praised a 2013 Obama Justice Department memo listing guidelines that states with medical marijuana or legalization laws can follow to avoid federal interference, but said “more action needs to be taken by the administration.”
While Pfeiffer’s remarks may disappoint some reform advocates, even if the White House were planning a major move on marijuana policy — such as rescheduling the drug — it is unlikely those intentions would be revealed in an off-the-cuff fashion during an interview with an advisor to the president.
In addition to rescheduling, Liszewski says, “President Obama should grant immediate clemency and full pardons to all of the patients and providers convicted for lawful state medical marijuana conduct.”
The interview is part of a recurring Huffington Post segment called “Drinking & Talking” in which political insiders drink booze and discuss issues of the day. This episode was recorded on December 22 and published Monday night.
Pfeiffer, who didn’t actually touch any of the alcohol on the table in front of him during the interview, nonetheless giggled quite considerably when asked about marijuana.
Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, on the other hand, admitted that he and co-host Jennifer Bendery got “a little drunk” over the course of the conversation. He went on to add that if it were up to HuffPost, legalizing marijuana would be number one or number two on the president’s to-do list before leaving office.
The marijuana comments come about 26 minutes in to the video here.