President Obama may be taking a less punitive approach in his drug policy.
Jacob Sullum reports in Reason.com that halfway into his last term, the president is apparently reconsidering the aggressive role the federal government has been playing in the war on drugs thus far.
Sullum mentions a number of options, including clemency, that are being reviewed. Yet, he feels that the most noteworthy potential change in policy deals with the balance of power in our country:
If none of those things happens, Obama’s most significant drug policy accomplishment may be letting states go their own way on marijuana legalization. Even if our next president is a Republican drug warrior, he will have a hard time reversing that decision, especially given the GOP’s lip service to federalism.
The possibility of using executive clemency to free thousands or even hundreds of incarcerated drug offenders would certainly create controversy.
I am sure hard-liners would be concerned about a possible weakening of deterrence from drug-related misdeeds. Soft-liners would mention the eased burden on our criminal justice system.
Speaking as a life insurance salesman, I would talk about the potential for more clients!
People in jail find it virtually impossible to get coverage. People out of jail can get great rates. (Whether or not they are on probation or parole would, of course, be a consideration.)
I also think that leniency for drug use at the federal level would result in more lenient underwriting on people that do use recreational drugs. The illegality of marijuana, etc., often poses an obstacle in qualifying for a policy.
Needless to say, any deleterious health impact drug use has would pose additional difficulty.