« Notable USSC compilation of federal guideline departure provisions | Main | Are you ready for some football ... Ponzi scheme sentencing news? »

November 4, 2011

"Presidential candidate to Obama: end drug war & pardon jailed marijuana users"

The title of this post is the headline of this press report on a speech given yesterday by GOP candidate Gary Johnson in California.  Here is how the piece starts:

Citing growing public support for the legalization of marijuana and the costs of enforcing current marijuana laws, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson told a conference of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) Thursday that, as President, he would act immediately to remove cannabis from the classification under the Controlled Substances Act which makes it illegal under federal law. Johnson also pledged to expedite pardons for those convicted of non-violent marijuana offenses.

Speaking to the DPA in Los Angeles Thursday morning, Johnson said, “Polls show that at least half the American people today have come to the same conclusion I came to as Governor of New Mexico: That the prohibition of marijuana in this country makes no more sense than the last Prohibition did. Alcohol Prohibition in the last century accomplished nothing but the creation of Al Capone and amazing profits for organized crime. Today’s continuing prohibition of marijuana is accomplishing nothing but amazing profits for the cartels who are killing people by the thousands along our southern border.

“The President and the Attorney General have it within their power to end this madness by removing cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act and allowing it to be treated like alcohol and tobacco. President Obama has said a lot lately about having to bypass Congress to accomplish his agenda. While I’m not enthused about most of what he is trying to do administratively, I would strongly suggest that reclassifying marijuana to reflect common sense is one executive action the President should take. And if elected, I would direct the Attorney General to immediately commence the process for removing marijuana from Schedule I of the CSA.”

Johnson added, “Obviously, ‘rescheduling’ marijuana would not, with the stroke of a pen, undo 50 sets of state law. It would, however, remove the faulty justification for federal laws which make recreational and medicinal marijuana use criminal. I also recognize that some in Congress might very well try to ‘recriminalize’ marijuana if I changed its classification administratively. Whether they succeeded or not, at least we would finally have the debate we need to have.

“Each year, 700,000 people are arrested for marijuana possession. Those are 700,000 people who now have a record, for whose prosecution we have paid, and whose cases are clogging up our courts and law enforcement agencies – for no logical reason. Since 1970, almost 20 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses, with the vast majority arrested for simple possession. After several decades, can anyone honestly say that our country is a better place as a result of having labeled those 20 million people as criminals? “

November 4, 2011 at 11:02 AM | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Presidential candidate to Obama: end drug war & pardon jailed marijuana users":


Isn't marijuana in Category I by statute? Does the statute allow the Government to reclassify it administratively? This is all very hypothetical, of course. The Obama administration will never recognize the concerns addressed by Governor Johnson.

Posted by: C.A.J. | Nov 4, 2011 11:31:33 AM

Gov. Johnson has said that he believes it would be legal to reschedule cannabis via executive order.

Posted by: mmk | Nov 4, 2011 2:38:24 PM

marijuana is schedule 1 - a category more dangerous than cocaine. This is done by the DEA.

Posted by: beth | Nov 4, 2011 3:38:50 PM

no president will do it, because they don't want their name attached to the admission of wrong-doing, even though they had nothing to do with it..

Posted by: dave | Dec 27, 2011 8:42:12 AM

Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB