Marijuana is a popular topic on the White House’s “We the People” online petition program, The Washington Post reports. Currently the second-most popular petition, with 66,000 signatures, asks President Obama to remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act.
The White House has issued three responses to marijuana petitions so far. All of them have opposed liberalizing production and distribution of the drug.
The issue of marijuana legalization has dominated the social media efforts of the White House for several years, according to the article. In 2009, during a “virtual town hall,” the president was asked many marijuana-related questions. He noted an often-asked online question was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and encourage the creation of jobs.
“I don’t know what this says about the online audience, but I don’t want people to think – this was a fairly popular question and we want to make sure it was answered,” Obama said. “The answer is no, I don’t think that’s a good strategy to grow our economy.”
The pro-legalization group NORML submitted an online petition in September 2011 that asked the White House to regulate marijuana in a similar manner to alcohol. The petition received 74,000 signatures. The White House responded that it supports research into the potential medical benefits of marijuana, but continues to oppose legalizing the drug for recreational use.
Sabrina Fendrick, Outreach Coordinator at NORML, told the newspaper her organization was happy they at least received a response, and had the chance to promote the issue on the White House website. “Historically, it is one of the only ways to get attention for a cause, especially years ago when it was still very taboo,” she said.