Obama Urged to Use Executive Powers to Reclassify Marijuana

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Drug reform advocates are calling on President Obama to use his executive authority to reclassify marijuana in line with his own recently stated views. In an interview with The New Yorker magazine last month, Obama said he does not think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol and called for treating it as a problem of public health. On Friday, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Obama if that would lead to a shift in policy.

Jake Tapper: “You said that you thought smoking pot was a bad habit, but you didn’t think it was any worse for a person than drinking. Now, that contradicts the official Obama administration policy, both on the website of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and also the fact that marijuana is considered a Schedule I narcotic, along with heroin and ecstasy. Now, do you think you were maybe talking just a little too casually about it with [David] Remnick in The New Yorker, or are you considering not making marijuana a Schedule I narcotic?”

President Obama: “Well, first of all, what is and isn’t a Schedule I narcotic is a job for Congress.”

Jake Tapper: “I think it’s the DEA that decides that.”

President Obama: “It’s not something by ourselves that we start changing. No, there are laws undergirding those determinations.”

Despite Obama’s claim that marijuana’s status is up to Congress, both the Drug Enforcement Administration and the attorney general have the authority to reclassify. In a statement, the medical marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access said: “President Obama told the nation during his State of the Union address that he would take executive action where he could on behalf of helping the American people. The president has the authority to reclassify marijuana and could exercise that authority at any time.”

Undocumented Attorney Sworn In to California Bar

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An undocumented immigrant who won the right to practice law has been sworn in to the California state bar. California’s Supreme Court ruled Sergio Garcia can practice law last month after a four-year court battle. Garcia was brought to the United States at the age of 17 months. After his swearing-in, Garcia said he hopes his case will open doors in other states.

Sergio Garcia: “I’m super excited that my case inspires across the nation. I think independently of whether you were blessed with being born in this country or not.”

Garcia still cannot be legally hired by an employer, but he says he plans to open his own law firm.

Obama Issues Protections for Long-Term Jobless

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President Obama met with top executives on Friday to promote hiring of the long-term unemployed. The White House says the nation’s unemployment rate has been worsened by discrimination against those who have been without a job for over six months. Obama said he would issue an executive order to enhance protections for those who apply to work for the federal government.

President Obama: “We’ve engaged employers of all sizes, all around the country, including many who are here today, to commit to a set of inclusive hiring policies for making sure recruiting and screening practices don’t disadvantage folks who have been out of work, to establishing an open-door policy that actively encourages all qualified applicants. And, of course, it’s only right that the federal government lead by example. So, today I am directing every federal agency to make sure we are evaluating candidates on the level, without regard to their employment history, because every job applicant deserves a fair shot.”