Gil Kerlikowske, the director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy, responded Friday to an extremely popular marijuana legalization petition on the White House’s “We the People” site.
He responded to the petition by stating that the legalization of marijuana would not resolve the problems associated with drug use.
"When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics," Kerlikowske said. "So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug's effects."
Studies have found that marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease and cognitive impairment, the drug czar explained. "Simply put, it is not a benign drug."
Kerlikowske added the White House "ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine," but said smoked marijuana did not meet medical guidelines for a safe and effective drug.
The petition was created and promoted by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) almost immediately after the White House launched it's "We the People" site on September 22.
The petition quickly gained more than 10,000 signatures in a single day and ended up with a total of 74,169 signatures, well over the 5,000 signatures required.
It asked: “Isn’t it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol? If not, please explain why you feel that the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?”
On their blog, NORML noted that Kerlikowske's response could be used to justify the prohibition of alcohol and tobacco as well as marijuana.