D.C. Special ONDCP Update – July 29, 2014

Special Update: ONDCP Responds to Calls for Marijuana Legalization

July 29, 2014


ONDCP responds to New York Times editorial calling for the legalization of marijuana

The Sunday, July 27th edition of the New York Times included an editorial written by the Times editorial board calling for federal legalization of marijuana for adults aged 21 and older. The editorial primarily cites issues with how the criminal justice treats marijuana possession, as well as racial biases in marijuana arrests and the costs of enforcing marijuana laws. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a response on July 28th saying that “the editorial ignores the science and fails to address public health problems associated with increased marijuana use” (ONDCP). The response goes on to list the current research relating to marijuana use and brain development, the effects of substance use during youth, marijuana addiction, and drugged driving. ONDCP acknowledges that the Times editorial board’s concerns relating to the treatment of marijuana-related crimes in the criminal justice system; however, ONDCP responds that these concerns do not outweigh the importance of the scientific literature around marijuana use and its consequences. ONDCP and the Obama Administration support criminal justice reforms, but argue that discussions about legalization should be “guided by science and evidence, not ideology and wishful thinking” (ONDCP). The response goes on to say that “We will continue to focus on genuine drug policy reform – a strategy that rejects extremes and promotes expanded access to treatment, evidence-based prevention efforts, and alternatives to incarceration” (ONDCP).