A petition that political columnist and KHOW talk-show host David Sirota filed through the Obama administration's "We the People" program on WhiteHouse.gov requesting the president support a federal law to protect marijuana legalization in Colorado, Washington and any other states that decide to pass similar laws in the future has already surpassed its goal of 25,000 signatures in just two days of its creation.
At the time of publishing, the petition had gathered 25,639 signatures.
The petition text reads:
Citizens in Colorado and Washington overwhelmingly voted to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in similar fashion as the more hazardous substance, alcohol, is already legalized, regulated and taxed. We request the president support a federal law requiring the federal government to protect - rather than undermine or overturn - these state laws and similar laws that other states pass in the future. Specifically, we request the president to support a pending congressional proposal that would amend the federal pre-emption section of the Controlled Substances Act (section 903) to exempt from the act any state provisions "relating to marijuana."
Having reached its goal, the Obama administration is now obligated to officially address the issues raised in the petition about marijuana legalization.
Sirota announced the victory via Facebook:
We did it! The White House petition we filed just hit 25,000 signatures, meaning President Obama will now have to publicly declare whether he supports upcoming legislation to defend states' rights to halt the war on marijuana. This is a HUGE victory - but please keep sending the petition around. The more signatures the more pressure will be on the White House to support this upcoming bill.
The congressional proposal that Sirota references is regarding the proposed legislation that Colorado Reps Diana DeGette (CD1), Ed Perlmutter (CD7) and Jared Polis (CD2) are working on independently and together that would exempt states that pass marijuana legalization legislation from the federal Controlled Substances Act, The Colorado Independent reported over the weekend.
Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) announced just today that they are urging President Barack Obama to "respect the wishes of voters in Colorado and Washington" who voted to legalize marijuana.
"We have sponsored legislation at the federal level to remove criminal penalties for the use of marijuana because of our belief in individual freedom," Frank and Paul wrote in a letter to Obama. "We recognize that this has not yet become national policy, but we believe there are many strong reasons for your administration to allow the states of Colorado and Washington to set the policies they believe appropriate in this regard, without the federal government overriding the choices made by the voters of these states."
Both Frank and Paul are ardent supporters of marijuana legalization. In 2011, the two pushed legislation to end the federal ban on marijuana and let the states decide on legalization.
Read the full text of Frank and Paul's letter here.
Sirota, who has frequently reported on the drug war, is also a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization. On recent taping of the Young Turks, Sirota discussed why marijuana legalization is actually a centrist point of view in America, not extremist. “People in Washington would have you believe that those who support legalization are the extremists," Sirota said on the Young Turks (watch that clip below). "When you look at where people are on legalizing marijuana -- full legalization, treat it like alcohol -- Gallup's poll just a few weeks ago found record high support for legalizing marijuana. 50 percent of Americans now say they want to legalize marijuana. If you look at those numbers, what you see is the mainstream, centrist position is to support legalizing marijuana and the extremists are those who say we should continue to fight the drug war.”
How the federal government plans to enforce marijuana law has remained unclear since the passage of measures in Colorado and Washington state last Tuesday.
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, who has been a vocal opponent of Amendment 64 but has since said that he intends to respect the wishes of the voters, did have a phone call with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder last week to discuss how the feds might respond, but the results of that call gave no clue as to whether or not the Department of Justice will sue to block the marijuana measures in Colorado and Washington, according to The Associated Press.
The response to Sirota's petition may give the public the most clear idea of how the Obama administration intends to handle states' legalizing marijuana.