Kevin Sabet, who served as a senior drug policy adviser in the Obama administration, said Sunday that it was unlikely the federal government would allow states to legalize marijuana.
“I think the administration has been very clear and the president has been very clear that he is against legalization,” he said on MSNBC’s Up with Chris Hayes. “From public health grounds, we know with legalization we are going to have a cheaper drug, more people are going to use it, it is just going to be more socially acceptable and according to the NIH [National Institutes of Health] that is a problem for one in six kids — it is not a problem for everybody, but it can be a problem on the roads and for IQ and learning, et cetera.”
Voters in Colorado and Washington state approved ballot initiatives last month to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. However, the drug is still outlawed at the federal level.
“So the administration has been very clear they’re going to be against it,” Sabet continued.
“What the Justice Department does with the very tricky legal questions — because each of these initiatives have like ten different legal things that they’re trying to do — I think is the more interesting question. Federal law is federal law. I can’t imagine the administration is going to say it is going to be OK with retail sales.”
Though allowing outright legalization may be unlikely, Sabet added that the Justice Department could determine that prosecuting those who grow marijuana for personal use was not a good use of its resources.
So far the Justice Department has remained mostly silent, only saying it was reviewing the issue and that federal drug laws remain unchanged.
Watch video, courtesy of MSNBC, below: