“No, the President’s position on these matters hasn’t changed” – Jay Carney

During a New Yorker interview President Obama made some very positive statements about marijuana reform but his administration was quick to point out he is not using his power to change federal policy. When asked if Obama’s remarks were meant to set a new drug policy, Press Secretary Jay Carney stated there has been no change. From Wednesday’s daily briefing:

MR. CARNEY:  No, the President’s position on these matters hasn’t changed.  I think he was making a couple of points — one, that we ought to use discretion appropriately in our prosecution prioritization — A.  B, when it comes to marijuana use, he made clear that he sees it as a bad habit and a vice and not something that he would encourage — and this is a quote:  “It’s not something I encourage, and I told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”  [...]

I think the point he was — well, see, I think again that you’re probably not aware of the entire sentence.  “It’s important for the experiment” — which is bracketed — “to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law, and only a select few get punished.”  In other words, he’s talking about the issue of the disparities in our prosecution of our drug laws that an experiment like this may be addressing.  He’s not endorsing any specific move by a state; he’s simply making an observation.  His position on these matters has not changed.

In short Carney is saying this improved rhetoric from the President is just a change in rhetoric. The President is not currently pursuing new actions to advance the issue even though his office is vested with substantial powers over federal marijuana policy.

I hope Obama’s new tone is going to be a precursor to a shift in policy but for now his administration claims they are just words. Actions are what really matter.