The White House is so out of touch with American society that it has issued a confounding rebuttal to the New York Times' call for an end to federal marijuana prohibition.
At least half of the statement from the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) focuses on underage use. But the Times editorial was clear to address this by recommending a ban for those 21 and under.
The ONDCP admits, however, the Times "may have valid concerns about disproportionality throughout our criminal justice system." The Times wrote: "The result is racist, falling disproportionately on young black men, ruining their lives and creating new generations of career criminals."
The ONDCP refers to a "cascade of public health problems associated with the increased availability of marijuana" and quotes the usual addiction figure of 9%. But everyone knows this figure is well below addiction rates for alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceuticals and other illegal drugs.
They also quote two RAND Institute studies that contend legalization "would not eliminate the black market" and "lowered prices could mean substantially lower potential for states." These two statements are so preposterous they're not even worth addressing.
The ONDCP lectures the Times: 'Any discussion on the issue should be guided by science and evidence, not ideology and wishful thinking... We will continue to focus on genuine drug policy reform - a strategy that rejects extremes.'
Yes, a policy that, as the Times noted, resulted in 658,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012. "The social costs of marijuana laws," the Times opined, "are vast."
We're clearly at a great divide, with a media institution challenging a longstanding federal policy. "It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana," said the Times, "inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol."
The problem with the White House drug policy is that it continues to be run by Republicans, starting with Bush holdover Michele Leonhart at the DEA, who should have been replaced years ago. The mixed message of states rights to legalize marijuana versus continued federal pot prohibition fails to solve the problem. The Times is absolutely right when it writes: "The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana." And the Obama White House is dead wrong in its stubborn opposition to the "legalization of marijuana and other illegal drugs."
Update: In their rebuttal to the White House, the Times writes: "We are simply asking the federal government to get out of the way so that states can decide what marijuana policies would work best for their own people. Rad th full text here.