The White House just met with Washington DC marijuana activists Adam Eidinger and Nikolas Schiller. The pair presented the case for descheduling cannabis. The meeting with the marijuana minds, previously billed as a “bud summit,” did not live up to the billing.
Activists Eidinger and Schiller are cofounders of DCMJ, the group that played a key role in passing cannabis legalization in Washington DC in the 2014 election. They recently organized a smoke-in at the gates of the White House, featuring a 50 foot inflatable joint reading “OBAMA DESCHEDULE CANNABIS NOW!” Significantly, the stunts seem to have gotten them the meeting, for which many requests had been previously ignored.
What took place, however, was fairly pathetic, as has been most of Barack Obama’s responses to cannabis questions and issues. As reported in the Washington Post, instead of a meeting with the President in the White House, the activist met in an adjacent office building, with two junior staffers from the office of the Drug Czar.
Bizarrely, because the Office Of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) legally cannot discuss marijuana legalization, staffers could only listen and take notes. Eidinger was encouraged by their body language, but the activists were back on the street in just half an hour.
To their credit, the DC activists did focus on descheduling, not rescheduling. Marijuana has languished in the Schedule I category for 45 years. While it is true that removal to any lower category would be helpful for enabling cannabis research and reducing federal penalties, all the other schedules, especially Schedule II, still present significant problems.
The more solid reform goal is descheduling marijuana by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act and treating it as an adult use substance like cigarettes and alcohol. Of course, neither descheduling or even rescheduling is receiving support from the president.
The lack of respect given by the White House to the major criminal justice and health topic of cannabis descheduling continues the pattern he has set for his entire presidency. From his earliest days as president, Barack Obama has treated frequent inquiries about cannabis policies with condescension and scorn. This meeting was more of the same.