While delivering his remarks at the 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, comedian Jimmy Kimmel addressed the issue of marijuana legalization.
“What is with the marijuana crackdown? Seriously, what is the concern? We will deplete the nation’s Funyun supply?” Kimmel said. “Pot smokers vote too. Sometimes a week after the election, but they vote.”
Kimmel then posed a challenge to the crowd, which was made up of celebrities like Kim Kardashian and George Clooney.
“I would like everyone in this room to raise your hand if you’ve never smoked pot,” Kimmel said.
Few hands went up.
Noting the crowd’s reaction, Kimmel addressed President Barack Obama directly.
“Marijuana is something that real people care about,” Kimmel said.
Obama, who recently said he doesn’t “mind a debate” about drug legalization, has increased the crackdown on medical marijuana producers across the nation, including a recent high-profile raid on a California training school. He addressed the crackdown and attempted to clarify his 2008 comments that he was “not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws [on medical marijuana]” in a recent interview with Rolling Stone:
Speaking with Rolling Stone, the president tried to explain his original comments, claiming that the recent pressure on dispensaries and providers was in line with his intent.
“What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana,” Obama said. “I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana — and the reason is, because it’s against federal law.”
The president continued: “I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.’ What I can say is, ‘Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.‘ As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.”
Attorney General Eric Holder was a guest of The Huffington Post at the correspondents’ dinner. Before it began, a HuffPost reporter noted to Holder that Obama’s reference to “congressional law” was misleading because the executive branch could simply remove marijuana from its “schedule one” designation, thereby recognizing its medical use.
“That’s right,” Holder said.
After Kimmel’s speech, a Holder deputy told HuffPost that there was no coordinated war on medical marijuana, but that some individual clinics were breaking both state and federal laws.
Section 811. Authority and Criteria for Classification of Substances
(a) Rules and regulations of Attorney General; hearing
The Attorney General shall apply the provisions of this subchapter to the controlled substances listed in the schedules established by section 812 of this title and to any other drug or other substance added to such schedules under this subchapter. Except as provided in subsections (d) and (e) of this section, the Attorney General may by rule–
(1) add to such a schedule or transfer between such schedules any drug or other substance if he–
(A) finds that such drug or other substance has a potential for abuse, and
(B) makes with respect to such drug or other substance the findings prescribed by[[Page 381]]
subsection (b) of section 812 of this title for the schedule in which such drug is to be placed; or
(2) remove any drug or other substance from the schedules if he finds that the drug or other substance does not meet the requirements for inclusion in any schedule.
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