If there was ever a president that would reform America's unjust and antiquated cannabis laws, you'd think it would be Barack Obama. He's openly admitted to smoking marijuana in the past, and has been comfortable enough to joke about it in past speeches at White House correspondents' dinners. He also has progressive values, so you'd think he'd recognize the medicinal benefits and the injustice of incarcerating ordinary citizens for the simple act of possession. And yet he resists calls for meaningful reforms. But that doesn't stop activists, and indeed fellow politicians from trying.

A bipartisan group of members of Congress recently sent the President a letter, setting out five things Obama could do before he leaves office next January:

  • Move marijuana to Schedule III or lower of the Controlled Substances Act, or deschedule it altogether
  • License more growers of cannabis for research purposes
  • Allow Department of Veterans Affairs (V.A.) doctors to complete medical marijuana recommendation forms
  • Extend protections for secondary and tertiary businesses that serve the medical marijuana industry
  • Ensure that the Justice Department better respects Congressionally-enacted legislation preventing it from interfering with state medical cannabis laws

The letter was signed by 14 members of Congress, including prominent legalization advocates Earl Blumenauer and Dana Rohrabacher, who last week came out of the closet about his medicinal marijuana use.

They urged Obama to act, as more and more states embrace legalization, while other states continue to punish their residents by upholding the federal and state-level prohibition on both medical and recreational marijuana.

“Some 300 million people live in a state or jurisdiction that allows some form of legal use of marijuana, and that number will likely grow by the end of the year," they wrote.

“Numerous scientists and health care professionals have exposed the absurdity of cannabis being grouped in Schedule I with substances such as LSD and heroin. The status quo is entirely unjustified, and only serves to hurt our communities, waste taxpayer dollars, fuel organized crime, bog down our criminal justice system, and prevent states from making decisions that should be left up to them."

banner image: Shutterstock / Jose Gil