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Obama on the Marijuana Prohibition: "No"
March 27, 2009 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Obama holds Internet 'town hall' meeting (previously) (previously). What was the #1 issue on the public's mind? Well, the legalization of marijuana set the stage as the #2 question under "Health Care Reform", the #1 and #2 questions under "Green Jobs and Energy", the #1 - #4 questions under "Financial Stability", the #1 and #3 questions under "Jobs", and #1 - #7 under "Budget". Clearly, this is one of the most important issue on the public's mind. What was Obama's response? It was "equivalent to a parent telling a child 'No.' and when asked why? 'Because I said so.'"

Jack Cole, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), said in response:

"Despite the president's flippant comments today, the grievous harms of marijuana prohibition are no laughing matter. Certainly, the 800,000 people arrested last year on marijuana charges find nothing funny about it, nor do the millions of Americans struggling in this sluggish economy. It would be an enormous economic stimulus if we stopped wasting so much money arresting and locking people up for nonviolent drug offenses and instead brought in new tax revenue from legal sales, just as we did when ended alcohol prohibition 75 years ago during the Great Depression."1
posted by tybeet (114 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
...one of the most important issues*
posted by tybeet at 9:09 AM on March 27, 2009


I didn't even hear a "Because I said so." All I heard was "you online people are a bunch of potheads. No."
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 9:09 AM on March 27, 2009 [14 favorites]


I thought his tone was perfect, he should be dismissive to the argument that legalizing marijuana would be good way to generate money. It should be legalized 'caue it's the right thing to do, not as a way to make money.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:11 AM on March 27, 2009 [20 favorites]


Jailing and demonizing potheads is part of the weave of American culture. People actually expect Obama to get on the legalization train? (laughter)
posted by weezy at 9:13 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I desperately want pot legalized, but not under any false pretense. Start the argument where it starts. Don't make it about money, or medical marijuana. Make it about justice, and freedom.
posted by autodidact at 9:13 AM on March 27, 2009 [18 favorites]


That is so weird. I just assumed from the way that he never mentioned being in favor of legalizing marijuana during the campaign, or in any of his writings, and the fact that he has been asked about the issue in the past and said that he wasn't for it, that he would totally be like "Hey good idea! Let's do this shit."

Jesus people. He is not your cool older brother. He is an extremely successful politician who knows what is and is not politically feasible on a nationwide basis. This is something that is going to have to happen on a state by state basis.
posted by ND¢ at 9:14 AM on March 27, 2009 [54 favorites]


This made me really angry for a few seconds, until I forgot what I was angry about.

Then I got angry again, until I remembered I'm not American.

Then I remembered the pipe in my hands, and all was well again.
posted by mannequito at 9:15 AM on March 27, 2009 [14 favorites]


Republicans would absolutely love it if Obama hamstrung his administration by trying to legalize or even decriminalize pot. It'd be like getting the next eight Christmases in one day.
posted by stavrogin at 9:16 AM on March 27, 2009 [29 favorites]


Also, the title of this post makes it sound like he's saying no to prohibition.
posted by mannequito at 9:17 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


he's taken a first major step toward legalization by saying that the DEA won't raid medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they are legal. i don't think it's realistic to think that he would also call for legalization too, especially considering all the pressure he's under just to get a budget passed.

i think we are baby stepping our way towards legalization, and i think it's great.

on preview. i'm alluding to what stavrogin said too.
posted by askmehow at 9:18 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Although I have no personal interest in it, I'm entirely for legalization. Get a lot of people out of jail, cut off the cash flow which funds a great deal of crime, open up a new industry, create a new taxable revenue stream, and enable people to put things in their body which are at least subject to some quality controls. And vindicate the late Carl Sagan, for kicks.

Then I blink twice, remember that I live in the United States of America, have a little giggle, and go back to wondering when if They will completely overturn Roe v. Wade or simply erase it by nipping out one bit after another. Great idea, folks, now we just have to wait for everyone over the age of fifty to die or we elect a President and about sixty senators with political death wishes before it has a shot.
posted by adipocere at 9:19 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's the quote:
THE PRESIDENT: Three point five million people voted. I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy — (laughter) — and job creation. And I don’t know what this says about the online audience — (laughter) — but I just want — I don’t want people to think that — this was a fairly popular question; we want to make sure that it was answered. The answer is, no, I don’t think that is a good strategy — (laughter) — to grow our economy. (Applause.)
Got that? He's against using marijuana as an economic stimulus, which is right, IMO. There's nothing in that statement about being against legalizing pot. However, it should be noted that the Feds are no longer prosecuting medical marijuana.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:19 AM on March 27, 2009 [16 favorites]


I'll be happy if in his second term Obama has time to worry about pot. Right now, there seem to be a few more important issues to deal with.

State by state seems the best way to go.
posted by graventy at 9:19 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Clearly, this is one of the most important issue on the public's mind.

You can't possibly believe that to be true. At best, it's an important issue to the kind of people that were willing to spend the time to vote it up on this site, which is a very poor analog for "The Public".
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:21 AM on March 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


askmehow: "he's taken a first major step toward legalization by saying that the DEA won't raid medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they are legal."

The telecom immunity vote showed what his promises are worth.

Nothing.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:21 AM on March 27, 2009 [8 favorites]


New York Lawmakers Agree to Repeal Rockefeller Drug Laws

"Gov. David A. Paterson and New York legislative leaders have reached an agreement to dismantle much of what remains of the state’s strict 1970s-era drug laws, once among the toughest in the nation."

posted by The Whelk at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've never touched pot, never will. I support legalization. To put it bluntly, you are full of shit if you think that the legalization of marijuana is the number one question on America's mind, or the number two or even in the top 10. Like any other poll on the internet groups of like minded people got together and gamed the system by submitting and voting up questions that mirrored their concerns. NORML gets their followers to skew the results, the medical marijuana folks do the same.

It's no different than attempting to name a space station module Colbert. It doesn't reflect the opinion of the internet any more than it reflects the opinion of America. The people in favour of naming it Colbert stuffed the ballot box.
posted by substrate at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2009 [11 favorites]


Oh, Jesus. No -- children -- legalizing pot is not why we contributed to, volunteered and voted for Obama. No, it is not anywhere near being the most important issue "on the public's mind". Only stupid potheads with nothing better to do than spam Change.gov think it is.

We need jobs, financial reform, economic security. We're still fighting two wars. Decent healthcare -- which is much more than just easy access to medical marijuana -- is still unavailable to 45 million Americans, and certain to bankrupt many millions more who are ostensibly insured. I'm much more concerned about affordable access to drugs for cancer and heart disease than about access to prescription pot -- and you'll find that's true of most people over thirty.

Those of us who don't have our heads stuck up our bings really do have a whole list of things that are much more important to us and to our country.

That a bunch of "pot enthusiasts" took it upon themselves to hijack the President's forum, and make it all about tokin' up, in hopes of embarrassing Obama into some show of support, is frankly selfish and juvenile and shameful when there are so many crises facing us as Americans.

That's my take, and frankly I've supported legalization for years. I can't begin to imagine how much this stunt reinforces the pro-criminalization Drug Warriors' stereotype that potheads are a bunch of whiny kids who only care about themselves, their bongs, and their munchies.

Stupid potheads. Selfish potheads. Stupid, selfish stunt by stupid selfish potheads..
posted by orthogonality at 9:24 AM on March 27, 2009 [35 favorites]


He's against using marijuana as an economic stimulus
Except the question wasn't solely asked in an economic frame. Granted, "Health Care Reform", "Green Jobs and Energy", "Jobs", and "Budget" may figure into the economy, but that's just being evasive.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 9:24 AM on March 27, 2009


FWIW, Nate Silver over at FiveThirtyEight estimates that legalization won't gain more than 60% support until 2022 or 2023.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:27 AM on March 27, 2009


I support legalization as much as the next guy, but legalizing pot in order to fix the economy? Call me crazy, but it seems like legalization will probably cost money at the front end, if only because it'll mean building an infrastructure that can regulate it. I think that's a good thing - we really should do this - but to ask the question as if legalization of pot is the key to fixing the question is disingenuous. It's just using the importance of the economic situation as a soapbox for the issue of legalization, and I'd laugh at that as much as Obama does.

Please note that he didn't laugh at the idea of legalizing pot, or at the many people who suffer because pot is illegal; he laughed at the idea that legalizing pot will fix the economy.
posted by koeselitz at 9:28 AM on March 27, 2009


I support legalization as much as the next guy, but legalizing pot in order to fix the economy?


Well, supporting freer drug laws and keeping people out of jail for minor offensives would save money on burdened states as well as freeing up Police and Legal systems.

But yah, it's not even in the top 10 for Shit That Needs To Get Done.
posted by The Whelk at 9:31 AM on March 27, 2009


I'm not saying this to be funny in any way.

I think any black politician in this country has to be very careful how they approach the topic of marijuana. No matter how sensible legalization may seem (and I don't know how sensible it is. I'm inclined to believe the arguments for legalization that I've heard, but that's really only one side of a debate where the other side doesn't even feel like they need to attend.), the racist stigma in this country regarding blacks and pot use and criminal activity would make the marijuana laws treacherous territory for any black politician.
posted by shmegegge at 9:31 AM on March 27, 2009


To be fair, there are those that see it as a solution to pretty much any problem.
posted by ND¢ at 9:31 AM on March 27, 2009


Three point five million people voted. I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy — (laughter) — and job creation. And I don’t know what this says about the online audience — (laughter) — but I just want — I don’t want people to think that — this was a fairly popular question; we want to make sure that it was answered. The answer is, no, I don’t think that is a good strategy — (laughter) — to grow our economy. (Applause.) (Long inhale, holds breath.)

Seriously-- What the fuck, Barry?

You know who uses the internet? Everybody. Dismissing their legitimate concerns as stoned ramblings is just fucking disgusting. Doing that while laughing at your own "high" and "grow" puns? Well, from here, that looks a bit hypocritical. (See also: Coconut Cream Pie speech.) Just sayin'.

Please don't make me compare you to Napoleon.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:34 AM on March 27, 2009


Well, ya know, legalizing cannabis probably *would* benefit the economy. Hemp is one nice plant, grows very quickly, produces oils and fibers that are useful in all different ways. It takes working people to plant it, nurture it, harvest it, commoditize it and sell it. I'm not really talking about the hemp that gets you high (though I do indeed enjoy that variety), but the more utilitarian low-THC industrial hemp. And if you're trying to stomp down on sensimilla, then spreading low-THC industrial hemp pollen all over the country would help, AND it would create a new source of jobs and industry.

So, on this particular point, I disagree with Obama. There are many other reasons to legalize cannabis, of course, but economics is definitely one reason to do so. It'd also would cut states' costs in terms of prisons, keep the productive pot-smokers paying taxes instead of costing tax dollars in prison, and defang to at least some degree the Mexican drug cartels.

Obama's right about a whole lot of stuff, but on this topic I think he's just flat-out completely wrong.
posted by jamstigator at 9:34 AM on March 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Clearly, this is one of the most important issue on the public's mind.

That's like saying that People Magazine's audience legitimately believed that Hank The Angry Drunken Dwarf was the most beautiful person of 1998.
posted by shmegegge at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


damn, now I'm tempted to create a new Metafilter account just to have the name Zapouch Genitalia: Old Fart Text Poet
posted by mannequito at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2009


(Ever get high and go to the mall? I promise you, you will help the economy.)
posted by Sys Rq at 9:39 AM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


Marijuana is one thing where it is hard to find smart people (who have actually thought about the issue) who think that it should be as illegal as it is. Unfortunately it's easy to find many many people who are not smart or who have not thought about it that think it should be at least as illegal as it is. Until enough of these people are convinced it's unrealistic to expect the person in the highest office in the nation to agree with the smart people. Obama also pretends to be against gay marriage which is even more silly. At the national level it's a choice between having someone who is right on marijuana policy and someone who can win.
posted by I Foody at 9:40 AM on March 27, 2009


The pot folks flooded the place with info so they could stack the deck to make it a question that would be asked.

Pot will become legal as will other things when the money to be made and money taxed becomes more important than "moral" or ingrained beliefs...so too, other "vices." Booze sales considered in places where it is not to be sold on the Sabbath; Nevada to tax prostitutes (legal there); death penalty to be ended (some palces) cause too expensive.ah, $$$$$$$$$$$$$
posted by Postroad at 9:40 AM on March 27, 2009


Boy, we just never learn how to be on guard against the use of wedge issues, do we? The practice of politics really must kind of seem like mechanical engineering to politicians sometimes, given how often the various segments of the electorate seem perfectly willing to behave like so much dumb, inanimate material for them to ply.

As ND¢ pointed out:

This is something that is going to have to happen on a state by state basis.

And guess what? Obama's justice department, in a break with all previous administrations including Clinton's, has already deferred the authority to make policy on marijuana prohibition to the states. Right now, if you can convince your state to make pot legal, the federal government under President Obama's will not enforce any federal laws to the contrary, meaning, effectively, that it is legal.

So get on it. Quit your impotent bitching and whining and convince your state legislature to make it legal. Because even if Obama did immediately repeal federal laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, your state government still has laws on the books making it illegal, so IT WOULD STILL BE ILLEGAL.

And only the supreme court has the authority to declare those state laws unconstitutional (which ain't happening). So get on it. Unless you'd rather just keep being part of the problem, and let the Republicans succeed in using this wedge issue to erode political support for Obama just as he most needs good political cover in order to get massive and politically challenging financial sector, health care and energy policy reforms through the process.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:44 AM on March 27, 2009 [19 favorites]


Joe Beese,the article you linked is about a raid that happened before the AG's announcement.

To your point, I found this blog post: DEA Continues Medical Marijuana Raids One Week After Obama AG Signaled They Were History, dated a week after the announcement. Maybe that one didn't get called off.

Anyway, I know politicians lie, even, but hopefully not so much, our current president. Regardless I believe the statements are important and at the very least help refocus the national conversation.
posted by askmehow at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


I smoke pot to forget about the economy.
posted by gman at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


But yah, it's not even in the top 10 for Shit That Needs To Get Done.

That's all well and good until you realize this country's archaic drug policies have so many terrible unintended consequences? Do our politicians stop to think about this when they make remarks like Secretary Clinton did the other day. Do we stop to think that, maybe, just maybe, there's something wrong with our approach to drug prohibition might possibly be making things like abhorrent violence along the Mexican border all the more profitable? For fuck's sake people, quit acting like this issue isn't tearing society apart.

Not important? Your smoking some shit if you believe that.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Well, ya know, legalizing cannabis probably *would* benefit the economy.

There's a difference between "benefiting the economy" and "solving the economic crisis." Would it yield benefits? I think so. Would those benefits be sufficient to make the systemic problems the crisis has brought to light irrelevant? Nope. Not even close. We've still got to solve those systemic problems first if we want to get our economy back on track.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:47 AM on March 27, 2009


Obama would benefit more from just directly describing decriminalization as "politically unrealistic", no laughter. I'd just avoid even responding to the idea that legalization might help the economy. If he did respond, he could just blow off the issue nicely while still raising awareness.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:53 AM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


IvoShandor: Look, as of right now, the Obama DOJ's official policy is that marijuana policy will be left up to the states. That means they have already taken historically drastic action in the direction of decriminalization/legalization. And though they haven't actually repealed marijuana laws at the federal level, all federal laws are currently undergoing review, with Holder to report on recommended changes to federal law at a future point.

But the federal law doesn't matter since they've ceded jurisdiction on marijuana policy to the states. It's up to the states now. The federal government doesn't have--and has never had--the authority to prevent the states from criminalizing marijuana if they want to, so you'll need to get to learn about how your state government actually works for a change if you want things to happen.

We'd all do better to follow Obama's advice and keep our mouths shut until we know what we're talking about.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:54 AM on March 27, 2009


Jesus, shmegegge, I can't believe I was about to make the same point as you about the exact same People poll. That's... weird.

Though I would argue that an internet poll has at least the potential to be a more accurate representation of "the people" now than it did 11 years ago. That said, John Linnell is absolutely the 9th most beautiful person in the world.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:55 AM on March 27, 2009


Sorry that came out so snarky.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:55 AM on March 27, 2009


Nice to see that Obama knows how internet 'polls' work, and has the appropriate comic touch to deal with ballot stuffing.

You guys, and by implication the rest of the world, have many, many more pressing issues than bloody weed.
posted by jrochest at 9:56 AM on March 27, 2009


From the article:

It’s quite offensive, first off, that the legalization issue is met with laughter throughout, by both Obama and Bernstein.

Stuff White People Like #101: Being Offended
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:58 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Stupid potheads. Selfish potheads. Stupid, selfish stunt by stupid selfish potheads..

if gay marriage advocates had done the same thing, would you still be willing to say that? - or are some negated civil rights more important than others?

last time i checked we had the right to petition our government - and to do so is not a "stunt"
posted by pyramid termite at 10:00 AM on March 27, 2009 [25 favorites]


... Which is to say hasn't the Obama done a tremendous Amount towards decriminalization? Maybe as much as he can?

I'd like to see the marijuana decriminalisation groups do the state by state work to see their ends achieved. I was really happyto see Patterson get rid of the Rockefeller drug laws. If this is the wave of the future, could you guys just get on it and stop harrassing The Pres.?
posted by From Bklyn at 10:02 AM on March 27, 2009


Medical marijuana. From a medical center. MED-I-CAL. Bring your lungs and your guns, baby. (video, NSFW)
posted by stargell at 10:04 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


To be fair, there are those that see it as a solution to pretty much any problem.

I'm totally favor legalization, but marijuana advocates are completely flushing their credibility down the toilet when they portray the old Maui Wowie as some sort of wonder weed that can pay off the deficit, cut global warming in half, fuel up your Prius for 5 cents a gallon, cure the common cold, and substitute for any Jamba Juice supplement.
posted by jonp72 at 10:06 AM on March 27, 2009


That said, John Linnell is absolutely the 9th most beautiful person in the world.

Stupid sexy Flansburgh...
posted by jonp72 at 10:07 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know who uses the internet? Everybody. Dismissing their legitimate concerns as stoned ramblings is just fucking disgusting. Doing that while laughing at your own "high" and "grow" puns? Well, from here, that looks a bit hypocritical. (See also: Coconut Cream Pie speech.) Just sayin'.

That's complete bullshit. Lots of people "use the internet" if you mean "check e-mail, send forwards, play flash games, use facebook". This is not "the internet". As much as my grandma watches news and sends forwards, she does not vote in online government polls.

I'm glad Obama is putting forward a good-faith effort to interact with the people in MY demographic, by doing these internet town hall things. But he's not reaching everyone with these things.
posted by graventy at 10:08 AM on March 27, 2009


Stupid, selfish stunt by stupid selfish potheads..

Hey, not all of us! I'm strongly in favor of legalization on libertarian grounds alone, and strongly support President Obama (it still feels awesome to write that). I actually do think it would result in significant economic benefits, and even more significant social benefit. But it's not my 'number one' issue, not even close. When we get out of our wars, get people back to work, stop torturing prisoners, shore up a liberal majority on the supreme court, get meaningful energy policy reforms, and stop stepping on the global warming gas pedal, then it will be my number one issue.

President Obama is not politically suicidal. Color me unsurprised. Had he committed hari kiri on behalf of his entire, crucially important agenda by saying something stupid yesterday about pot, I'd be furious.

This is going to happen, anyway, eventually. State by state, community by community. In my lifetime. I feel sure of it. In the meantime, I keep practicing civil disobedience with my herb.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


Jesus, Internet, you get the chance to ask Obama some questions. What will you ask about? The financial chaos of our country? How we resolve the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq? What our policy will be to China now that it's clearly becoming the new superpower? Nah, you just want to ask when your weed can be legal.
posted by Nelson at 10:12 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Joe Beese is correct, the DEA raided a California dispensary after Holder's statement.

So, there are a couple explanations for this. Holder and by extension Obama are lying, and they have no intention of ending the previous administration's broken drug policies. Or the DEA is out of control and Obama needs to bring it into line with stated policy. I guess we'll see in the next week which it is. Maybe the DEA was figuring it's too hot politically for Obama to come down hard on them. I don't think the timing with Obama's speech yesterday was a coincidence. I think the DEA is sending a message.

If he doesn't come down on the DEA, this is yet another troubling indicator that this administration's stance on personal and civil liberties isn't much different from the last administration.
posted by formless at 10:27 AM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Hmmm. I think that decriminalising marijuana is a good idea. I have for a long time.

But heavens to Mergatroyd, most legalization activists and organizations like NORML make my brain hurt. I often wonder if it wouldn't be legal already if they didn't pull immature dipshit maneuvers like this and generally make themselves poster children for keeping it illegal. I don't think it would have been out of line to directly call the ballot stuffers a bunch of stoners, because they probably, no, definitely, are.

Not saying that there aren't legitimately good reasons to make it legal, nor am I saying that people should not attempt to change the laws, because they are truly disproportionate and unjust. There are certainly serious, intelligent people working hard to make things right. Unfortunately, the most flamboyant face of such a movement is going to be the one that leaves the most lasting impression in the public mind. The most flamboyant face of this movement really needs to put down the bong.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:30 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't know that I can fault the real people that asked about this. Certainly there was ballot stuffing but it seems like this is an issue a lot of people are concerned with. Should they be more concerned with foreign policy or with Gitmo etc..., I think so, yes. However, these people have their own priorities and it seems like unnecessary blowing off to put it as "nah, you just want to ask when your weed can be legal.".
posted by josher71 at 10:31 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


FUCK THIS GUY I SHOULD HAVE VOTED FOR RON PAUL
posted by Damn That Television at 10:34 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Or the DEA is out of control and Obama needs to bring it into line with stated policy.

Or the operation had already been planned long before the announcement and a decision at the operational level was made to green-light the raid anyway, since resources had already been dedicated to it.

Or in this particular case, the dispensary was known to be working with growers/suppliers outside the state (like, for example, some Mexican grow outfit), and so interstate trafficking laws applied.

As I understand it, the policy doesn't cede authority over controlling interstate trafficking. So that might be another explanation.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:35 AM on March 27, 2009


Joe Beese is correct, the DEA raided a California dispensary after Holder's statement.
Shut up, stupid selfish pothead.
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 10:38 AM on March 27, 2009


"Unfortunately, the most flamboyant face of such a movement is going to be the one that leaves the most lasting impression in the public mind. The most flamboyant face of this movement really needs to put down the bong."

I've heard people say similar things about gay people and gay pride parades.
posted by krinklyfig at 10:40 AM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


I've heard people say similar things about gay people and gay pride parades.

Put down the dong?
posted by uncleozzy at 10:41 AM on March 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


.
posted by davelog at 10:43 AM on March 27, 2009


I don't know that I can fault the real people that asked about this. Certainly there was ballot stuffing but it seems like this is an issue a lot of people are concerned with. Should they be more concerned with foreign policy or with Gitmo etc..., I think so, yes. However, these people have their own priorities and it seems like unnecessary blowing off to put it as "nah, you just want to ask when your weed can be legal."

I voted this question up. I have no idea how representative I am of the voters, but I have no affiliation with any pro-legalization organization, have never smoked pot, and don't even have a strong interest in seeing it legalized. But of all the questions that I saw on the site, the pot legalization one was the only opportunity I saw to positively shape national dialog. Even though I already knew his answer on marijuana legalization, I also knew his answer to every other question. It's not about the answer; it's about the President legitimizing the question.

Unfortunately, the most flamboyant face of such a movement is going to be the one that leaves the most lasting impression in the public mind.

That's not necessarily unfortunate. It all depends on how it's framed. If you lump the extreme ends of a campaign in with the more moderate ends, sure, it makes them all seem extreme, which turns people off. But you can also use the extreme ends to make the moderate ends seem more centrist. See: Overton Window.
posted by scottreynen at 10:48 AM on March 27, 2009 [3 favorites]


The most flamboyant face of this movement really needs to put down the bong.

We've heard similar arguments about every protest movement, and yet the movements that are quiet and wait for their turn never get anywhere.

Ten million Americans are "habitual criminals" because they smoke - millions have already been arrested and an unknown number, but certainly in the hundreds of thousands, have had their lives seriously damaged because of those arrests.

And the fact that Obama and everyone in the audience laughs shows that no one takes it seriously - that no one really thinks of it as a crime. (Imagine if for example the question had been talking about legalizing some other crime, theft or sex with children.) I mean, our last three(*) Presidents have smoked pot.

In short, America is willing to fuck up the lives of large numbers of its citizens and spend untold billions of dollars to uphold a law that no one takes seriously.

So I don't think this is at all unreasonable. Keep asking the question.

(* - I don't think Bush ever admitted to smoking pot - but he did essentially admit to taking cocaine and it's very hard for me to believe that he took cocaine and never smoked pot.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:48 AM on March 27, 2009 [15 favorites]


stargell, what the hell is that video's purpose?

First half is him getting all hyped up about a turkey bag, followed by him getting ridiculously high and rambling -much more quietly- about his future as a musical producer? As near as I can figure it's a bizarre marketing spot for someone named Jordan Tower.
posted by mannequito at 10:49 AM on March 27, 2009


President Obama is not politically suicidal. Color me unsurprised. Had he committed hari kiri on behalf of his entire, crucially important agenda by saying something stupid yesterday about pot, I'd be furious.

Exactly. Which is why I wonder why this is even an issue. Yes, he was unnecessarily dismissive. But to expect even a hint of support for the idea is silly. As everybody in the thread has already pointed out, look to the state governments now. That's where the action will be.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:51 AM on March 27, 2009


It should be legalized 'caue it's the right thing to do, not as a way to make money.

The reverse argument seems to work pretty well on Republicans.
posted by oaf at 10:52 AM on March 27, 2009


I am as pro-legalization as they come. The fact that society at large is too fucking stupid to understand that drug prohibition is an idiotic, harmful response to the realistic social and personal problems that drug use causes infuriates me. But if President Obama's response was equivalent to a parent telling a child 'No' I can only say that it was then entirely appropriate. This political tactic (bombing online question submissions) is childish. It is a meaningless display of a sort of influence that translates in absolutely no respect to actual political influence. It does the cause no good and puts the President in a situation where absolutely the best he can do is to give the question a flat, narrow "no" with an attitude that it being so prevalent in the rankings is a somewhat humorous comment on the online response representing a somewhat skewed demographic rather than giving it some sort of stern "what is the world coming to" finger wag, as many politicians would.

Voting up some question online is easy, riskless, and therefore politically meaningless. How many of the college kids who pushed these questions to the front of the line are going to go home and say "hey, mom and dad, I smoke pot, and it's time to talk about why it should be legal"? The discussion on this seemingly obvious (to anyone who studies the history, science, and scholarship on the it) issue isn't further advanced in society because the majority of people who are functional marijuana users would rather stay in the closet with the minimal risk of legal problems than risk any real consequences by becoming open about it.
posted by nanojath at 10:55 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Brandon Blatcher: However, it should be noted that the Feds are no longer prosecuting medical marijuana."
Yes, it should be, but they are still doing it.

jamstigator: you're missing the point of the original question. The question was about marijuana, not hemp. Others agree with you that hemp would help the economy but these are two different issues that should actually remain separate. IMO, both should be legalized, but I think most people say "hemp" when referring to the industrial crop and "marijuana" when referring to the drug.
posted by knile at 11:04 AM on March 27, 2009


just like the 'bailout of the billionaires,' i'm not smelling a lot of "change" here...
posted by sexyrobot at 11:05 AM on March 27, 2009


I think we can find some ground between

"People that smoke pot are stupid selfish potheads that ruined a townhall meeting through a concerted effort to make this issue center stage"

and

"Pot is the single most important issue on the public's mind".


Somewhere.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:08 AM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


The legalization question is a thorn in the side of some who are charged with prosecuting the crime. My uncle was the most republican of sheriff deputies and he was all for making it legal. Even other drugs. Dealing with it was such a waste of their resources.
posted by mightshould at 11:19 AM on March 27, 2009


orthogonality: " We need jobs, financial reform, economic security. We're still fighting two THREE wars. Decent healthcare -- which is much more than just easy access to medical marijuana -- is still unavailable to 45 million Americans, and certain to bankrupt many millions more who are ostensibly insured. I'm much more concerned about affordable access to drugs for cancer and heart disease than about access to prescription pot -- and you'll find that's true of most people over thirty.

FTFY -- You seem to have forgotten the war on drugs.

Look, just because you think the salvation of the economy lies in bailing out banks, and some stimulus checks doesn't mean there aren't other things that could be part of that arsenal...

I agree that using economic stimulus shouldn't be the main thrust of the argument. That said, this clip of Jeffrey Miron, Harvard Econ Professor discusses the economics of prohibition. He does raise questions, and is pretty balanced. Some details aren't fully given.

The way I see it, economically, the government has dug itself into a corner. The Prison-Industrial complex, Military-Industrial complex both have very powerful interests in keeping the drug war running. How many helicopters are we sending to Mexico now? Keeps the SWAT boys happy, puts more awesome weapons in the hands of cops AND cartels. Money is made hand over fist in this war. So the vested interests have a very powerful motive to keep this game running.

What happens when the (what is it, 1 Million?) non-violent marijuana users are released to the streets again? We have a lot of people locked up, conveniently reduces the unemployment numbers. If we release them, how much of an effect would that have on our unemployed rates?

So, maybe economics would suffer under a legalization regime. But I simply hate how Obama is all "I'm a centrist, I listen to all sides" and then snark at people who deign to bring up something which more and more respectable people (LEAP as previously mentioned, Harvard Econ Profs, The Economist magazine, etc) are recognizing is a serious problem. Because obviously only potheads would *dare* to think that legalization is a good thing, or that it might have a positive economic effect.

Also, that point that someone brought up that the DEA raids are still continuing. I mean, this was something that Holder came out just a week or two ago IIRC, and explicitly stated "no more raids" -- yet here we are. Supposedly, the raid was a taxation issue, according to an anonymous city counselor. IF that is what he was told I call bullshit. You use IRS "jack boot thugs" (that's what right-wingers like to call them, right?) to raid for tax purposes. DEA is not a tax enforcement agency.
posted by symbioid at 11:20 AM on March 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


Republicans would absolutely love it if Obama hamstrung his administration by trying to legalize or even decriminalize pot.

Only Nixon could go to China.
Only Huckabee can go to China Grove?
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:23 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think we can find some ground between

"People that smoke pot are stupid selfish potheads that ruined a townhall meeting through a concerted effort to make this issue center stage"

and

"Pot is the single most important issue on the public's mind".


Somewhere.
I agree. How about maybe:

"The people that ruined a townhall meeting through a concerted effort to make this issue center stage are stupid selfish potheads"

?
posted by Flunkie at 11:28 AM on March 27, 2009


There's a difference between "benefiting the economy" and "solving the economic crisis." Would it yield benefits? I think so. Would those benefits be sufficient to make the systemic problems the crisis has brought to light irrelevant? Nope. Not even close. We've still got to solve those systemic problems first if we want to get our economy back on track.

Recent estimates by one economics professor at Harvard place our spending on drug enforcement at $44 billion, and the amount of potential tax revenue that we're missing out on from marijuana's regulation at $33 billion. The total of which would be $77 billion per year towards fixing our economy. Even if that's a generous figure, and let's say it's really only $50 billion, should we really not be trying to pursue a figure like that?
posted by tybeet at 11:30 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


jrochest: "Nice to see that Obama knows how internet 'polls' work, and has the appropriate comic touch to deal with ballot stuffing.

You guys, and by implication the rest of the world, have many, many more pressing issues than bloody weed.
"

Because we can only deal with one thing at a time. I feel I've heard that argument from Bush for some reason.

And "bloody weed" is tied into a LOT of current issues. Whether taxable income, medical research, reduction in prison population, increasing costs in the border war with Mexican Cartels, etc...

This IS an issue we ARE dealing with, but only by pursuing (generally) the same damn methods we have been doing for the past 30 some years... Oh yes, the *claim* of non-interference with states for medical pot is a minor change, but as pointed out earlier in the thread, even this seems to be reneged upon a mere short while after the big announcement was made.

If the "many, many more pressing issues" preclude us from dealing with other issues, then, maybe we're a bit too big and complex of a system to keep running... If the bureaucracy is so large that the DEA agents didn't get the memo we weren't raiding Cali dispensaries, then we've got a problem.

OK, sorry for my long ramblings, I'm done now, unless someone directly addresses one of my points.
posted by symbioid at 11:30 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Why is the internet stupid?"
posted by Artw at 11:34 AM on March 27, 2009


Well, I cannot help but notice that President Obama did not that go home and say that "hey, mom and dad, I smoke pot, and it's time to talk about why it should be legal," and yet he feels that he is eligible to be President of the United States of America. That in and of itself says to me that there is more to be said about the legalization of marijuana in the United States of America.
posted by mayhap at 11:35 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think dealing with some of the other issues which are not quite as immediately polarising would be a better use of time, but hope that it's a dialogue we can have as a nation before his term is up.
posted by batmonkey at 11:39 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


if gay marriage advocates had done the same thing, would you still be willing to say that? - or are some negated civil rights more important than others?

Uh... "yes"?
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:47 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Radley Balko: The Lethality of Marijuana Prohibition
posted by homunculus at 11:48 AM on March 27, 2009


bombing online question submissions

Is there any evidence that this is the case?

I'd think it much more likely that there are millions of pot smokers and that this is an important issue for a lot of them. If so, they have every right to do this - particularly, as nanojath points out, the risks of speaking out in public include the possibility of being jailed.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:49 AM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Just yesterday on NPR there was a piece about low-risk prisoners getting early release in a number of jurisdictions because they can't afford to keep a bunch of, well, potheads in jail given the crunch nationwide on county and state budgets. I'm the squarest of the squares when it comes to actually wanting to smoke marijuana, I have no real interest in it as a recreational drug (though I do know people who've used it successfully during cancer treatments and the like).

However, I have a supermajormega interest in a. not paying to keep the mandatory-minimum sentencing people in jail on taxpayers' dollars and b. not wasting law enforcement efforts on chasing down every Spicoli on the block. We've got enough to worry about.

If Obama waited til his second term to say ok, suck my lame duck, Republicans! and get something pushed through that would legalize and tax it nationwide, awesome. But meanwhile, I think this'll be something the Republicans can use to hang him out to dry if he does it sooner. So, I think I'd rather have him in office a little while longer. Go the state by state route, in the meantime, oh activists -- but remember we kinda need a president who isn't a Boehner-style buttmonkey in the meantime. Can you not try to make Obama a one-termer, please?
posted by bitter-girl.com at 11:53 AM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Let's say for the sake of argument that the legalization struggle is only about pleasure - as opposed to a socially approved goal like Freedom. [That is the source of the sneering condescension shown towards the issue, is it not?]

I remind those panties are bunched that the founding document of our country's own claim to Freedom identifies the pursuit of happiness as a fundamental human right given us by God.

So mock us with "dude" all you like... but we've got Jefferson and you don't.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:14 PM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


substrate: "Like any other poll on the internet groups of like minded people got together and gamed the system by submitting and voting up questions that mirrored their concerns.."

When it's done to advance a political goal you like, it's "grassroots organzing".

When it's done to advance a political goal you don't like, it's "gaming the system".
posted by Joe Beese at 12:16 PM on March 27, 2009 [10 favorites]


i'm as raging a legalization advocate as anybody, but i'm not so stupid i can't recognize that one sitting president hasn't gotten the legal authority nor the political power--nor quite frankly, the popular support with national support for full legalization still significantly under 50%--to make legalization happen over night.

even if obama aggressively pursued and achieved full legalization at the federal level, nearly every state in the union would still have marijuana prohibition on the books. why aren't you more angry at your local legislators and your state governors for not doing more to address this all-important and timely issue if you really believe it's so crucial to tackle this right now? legalize/decriminalize marijuana in even a plurality of the states, and the pressure on the federal government would be so great even another ass-hat president in the mold of bush would feel compelled to roll back federal marijuana prohibitions.

and as someone who's actually worked within big complex organizations like most governmental entities, i know that institutional change in practice lags behind change in principle or policy, and that just because a new policy is enacted, that doesn't mean the organization is going to turn on a dime and begin operating according to the new rules immediately. so the fact that there may still have been one raid a week after the administration's new statement of policy doesn't bother me. if there are still raids a half a year later, then i might start worrying--unless the raids are legitimate operations related to interstate trafficking of "medical" marijuana produced outside a state that permits medical marijuana dispensaries.

also, if a medical marijuana dispensary isn't complying with the tax laws of the state it operates in and gets raided as a consequence (as was dismissively acknowledged might well have been the case with the incident joe beese cited), then they deserve no fucking sympathy from me or anyone else and it's completely dishonest to characterize the action as an example of how the administration lied about its new position on drug enforcement policy. show me a case in a few weeks in which a dispensary which by all credible accounts is in compliance with applicable state law is raided by the feds and you might have a case that elicits my outrage.

otherwise, just sit down and stop acting like some bratty hyperactive four-year old acting up in the backseat on the way to disney land.

don't let the hype fool you. this issue has got political operative fingerprints all over it. like abortion and gun rights this is just another wedge issue, intentionally being stoked by right wing opponents of the obama administration to divide the electorate and keeps us thinking with our brainstems instead of our forebrains.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:20 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


Damn! And I thought Obama was one of the "cool" dads.
posted by mrducts at 12:21 PM on March 27, 2009


What the fuck, Obama.

I'd like to make a preachy speech now, but other people have already said everything that needs to be said on this side of the issue. I'm just frustrated that this ancient civil rights issue always gets treated with laughter.
posted by tehloki at 12:25 PM on March 27, 2009


saulgoodman, people are not rotting in jail for having an abortion. Sick people are not in pain and misery because assault rifles are illegal in their state. Marijuana prohibition is a bit bigger of a wedge issue than you think it is.
posted by tehloki at 12:28 PM on March 27, 2009 [5 favorites]


"also, if a medical marijuana dispensary isn't complying with the tax laws of the state it operates in and gets raided as a consequence (as was dismissively acknowledged might well have been the case with the incident joe beese cited), then they deserve no fucking sympathy"

Should the DEA be conducting raids based on tax issues?
posted by krinklyfig at 12:42 PM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


I thought his tone was perfect, he should be dismissive to the argument that legalizing marijuana would be good way to generate money. It should be legalized 'caue it's the right thing to do, not as a way to make money.

That's exactly right. Everyone should go watch the question and response so you get the proper context. He wasn't talking about medical marijuana. He was replying to the question about whether legalizing it and thus taxing the sale of marjiuana would be good for the economy. And he commented on the fact that so many people raised this question, which I know to be true because I dialed through the questions on the site the night before. I hate when this happens, when someone, as someone did over on Firedoglake, gets the basic question or idea wrong, presents it incorrectly and gets everyone stirred up. That's not to say the other arguments aren't worth having, it's just that that's not what he was talking about.
posted by etaoin at 12:49 PM on March 27, 2009


techloki: i don't think you understand what a wedge issue is.

the politicians who use wedge issues don't care one way or another about the substance of a wedge issue. they just know that the issue can be used to divide and dilute the political power of constituencies who otherwise share many common political objectives, redirecting their energies into pointless disputes with each other that foster strong partisan feelings.

again, suppose all the outraged sputtering on this topic achieved what you hoped it would. obama announces, you know what? fuck it. let's legalize it.

ah, but then, the states still have to legalize it. so nothing's changed. now what? the next election rolls around. the religious right is in a frenzy, and has been calling for obama's impeachment his entire remaining presidential term, effectively neutralizing his ability to advance any other aspect of his agenda. the "moral majority" crowd is still thirsty for blood, but all the potential obama supporters are bummed because they still can't walk down the street smoking a big fatty like they thought, and though they can't be bothered to learn enough about the american legal or political systems to understand exactly why this is, they feel very deeply in their bones that obama must have somehow betrayed them.

so they sleep in on election day and don't go to the polls. the blame-half-of-america-first crowd, on the other hand, wake up to sharpen their knives before sunup, and turn up at the polls in record numbers to vote against the president who dared try to unleash the reefer madness on america.

so obama loses the election to the steele/palin ticket, which immediately upon assuming office, reverses all of obama's policies and recriminalizes pot with a vengeance, fulfilling the rutherford institute's dream of imposing biblical law in america, by calling for all stoners to literally be stoned.

is that more like the outcome you're hoping for? because unless you know of a way to make reality conform to the will of we idealists who know better, the fools and cynics will always still get their say, right or wrong. that's how democracies work. it's a feature, not a bug.

Well, I cannot help but notice that President Obama did not that go home and say that "hey, mom and dad, I smoke pot, and it's time to talk about why it should be legal," and yet he feels that he is eligible to be President of the United States of America.

Well, his mom may have already been dead at the time, but the grandmother who raised him and put him through school was alive when he released his book "Dreams From My Father," in which Obama wrote that:

"...before entering politics, that he had used marijuana and cocaine ("maybe a little blow"). He said he had not tried heroin because he did not like the pusher who was trying to sell it to him."

Despite what a couple of people up-thread said, Obama has stated for the record that he supports decriminalization, but not legalization. The media has since attempted to spin his more recent statements against immediate legalization as some kind of back-peddling, but in fact, he's never claimed to support full legalization at the federal level--although giving the states more freedom to determine policy in that area could, in effect, lead to the same outcome over time.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:58 PM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


saulgoodman: "Obama has stated for the record that he supports decriminalization...."

January 31, 2008 it says...

Sure, I remember those days. When he was trying to gain traction on the still-considered-invincible Hillary by sewing up the disaffected progressive wing of the party. The "I'm against telecom immunity" Obama.

I loved that guy.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:04 PM on March 27, 2009 [7 favorites]


ooh, burn!
posted by saulgoodman at 1:13 PM on March 27, 2009


I think dealing with some of the other issues which are not quite as immediately polarising would be a better use of time

Other issues such as . . . ?

If you're suggesting that controversial issues should be put on hold, I'm gonna have to completely disagree. When an issue is polarizing, it means people actually give a shit--that it's important to them. If the President ignores what the people care about, he's not doing his job.

What was the most polarizing issue in American history? Think reeeeeally hard.

Got it yet? Now, do you still think the President should put off dealing with polarizing issues?
posted by Sys Rq at 1:18 PM on March 27, 2009


"However, it should be noted that the Feds are no longer prosecuting medical marijuana."
Yes, it should be, but they are still doing it.


In the story I linked to in a previous comment, the first sentence says this:
"U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. said Wednesday that the Justice Department has no plans to prosecute pot dispensaries that are operating legally under state laws in California and a dozen other states"
That wasn't a "You can do whatever you want" statement, that was a "we'll leave you alone if you're following state law"

After that statement, here's the following paragraphs:
In recent months, Obama administration officials have indicated that they planned to take a hands-off approach to such clinics, but Holder's comments -- made at a wide-ranging briefing with reporters -- offered the most detailed explanation to date of the changing priorities toward the controversial prosecutions.

The Bush administration targeted medical marijuana distributors even in states that had passed laws allowing use of the drug for medical purposes by cancer patients, those dealing with chronic pain or other serious ailments. Holder said the priority of the new administration is to go after egregious offenders operating in violation of both federal and state law, such as those being used as fronts for drug dealers.

"Those are the organizations, the people, that we will target," the attorney general said.
Got it, the administration has specifically said they'll go after certain clinics doing certain things and so far it's not known what the exact charges against the dispensary are, only that state and federal laws were supposedly broken, so everyone should chill out before they start proclaiming the Administration is going against previous statements. I'm more than willing to blame and hold them accountable if they start pulling the crap the Bush Administration did, but there's zero evidence of that being done so far.

The self righteous and misleading tone of this post and the quick to damn the administration tactics without any evidence is exactly why Obama was dismissive about the question. Quick jumping up and down and getting hysterical about this shit. Change won't happen in a day, even though it should and I'd personally like it to, but in the meantime try to deal with facts instead of the preprogrammed agenda.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:19 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


He's laughing because the actual #1 question was "Why haven't you Googled RON PAUL"
posted by ALongDecember at 1:36 PM on March 27, 2009


When an issue is polarizing, it means people actually give a shit--that it's important to them.

Well, no. Polarizing issues are precisely the ones we should ignore.

Polarizing doesn't just mean "people care, so we should do something about it."

Polarizing means that people are generally drawn into two or more discrete camps with irreconcilable values, interpretations and differences. Abortion, for example.

If there's no identifiable middle ground to stake out, that would lead most people to prioritize that one a little farther down the list. Otherwise, you're arguing that we should attempt to scale Mount Everest, because that's the only mountain that "counts" because it's the tallest.

There are millions of mountains in the world to climb, and many of them are difficult, and many of them don't require a trip all the way to the Himalayas and back.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 1:39 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


mannequito, I found it . . . curious . . . that this guy (Yukmouth, a grammy-nominated Oakland rapper) refers to the place as a medical center and flashes what apparently is a medical marijuana license as he enthuses about his turkey bags. I've got no experience with medical marijuana; is that a typical dispensary?

And also, holy crap is that a lot of pot.
posted by stargell at 1:51 PM on March 27, 2009


You want to save the economy, folks? Quit smoking pot! You don't need it, it's a recreational high at best-- let's be honest, you don't all have glaucoma-- and the money you save could be put to far, far better use, like saving up for a house, or saving up for retirement, or saving up for anything but that new chrome-plated bong you've been eyeing.
posted by mark242 at 2:05 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


mark242: "You want to save the economy, folks? Quit smoking pot! You don't need it, it's a recreational high at best"

Your favorite high sucks.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:18 PM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Marijuana Legalization and Health Care Reform will never happen any time soon, because as soon as we do it, too many people are going to say, "Why didn't we do this before?" and then start wondering if there's other stupid crap we keep doing just because either "it's always been that way" or some deep-pocket interest fears its profits.
posted by Legomancer at 2:52 PM on March 27, 2009


Well, no. Polarizing issues are precisely the ones we should ignore.

Polarizing doesn't just mean "people care, so we should do something about it."

Polarizing means that people are generally drawn into two or more discrete camps with irreconcilable values, interpretations and differences.


That's precisely why I was suggesting an executive order and not a referendum.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:02 PM on March 27, 2009


So...legislature still about writing/repealing/modifying laws....executive branch still about enforcement?
Ok, just checking.
So, Bush is a prick if he tells congress 'up yours I'm going to deal with this law however I want.' Obama on the other hand, he'd big hero.
I'm pro-legalization, but I'm not willing to cut another hunk out of the already pretty weary Republic to do it.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:47 PM on March 27, 2009


I voted for the man, but this is yet another strike against him, a big one. I hope he's around 8 years from now, and if he is, I suspect there will be considerable pressure by then for him to take this seriously.
posted by zardoz at 6:20 PM on March 27, 2009


chrome-plated bong you've been eyeing

Okay. See. This is how we know you're a huge square. A chrome plated bong would not only make the vapor taste like shit it would be impossible to clean and probably conduct heat and burn your lips.

Kids these days. Whatchagonnado.
posted by tkchrist at 6:32 PM on March 27, 2009 [4 favorites]


Polarizing means that people are generally drawn into two or more discrete camps with irreconcilable values, interpretations and differences. Abortion, for example.

Or slavery?

This is a huge issue, literally a civil war waged on US citizens on US soil. People die over this plant every day. Lives are ruined by by the paramilitary efforts to stamp it out. It's simply baffling to see this issue to be treated as if the worst problems it caused were harold & kumar movies.
posted by anti social order at 6:34 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


I voted for the man, but this is yet another strike against him, a big one.

It's a big strike against him that he's the only president in decades to take any steps at all toward legalization? Yeah. That's definitely what I hate to get out of the leaders I support. Actual progress toward achieving the long-term policies I'd like to see when the only practical alternative is no progress at all.

Oh, I see--this is a now or never kind of moment, huh? Okay, well then, I guess it's never, so we can all just shut up about it now.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:35 PM on March 27, 2009 [1 favorite]


again, suppose all the outraged sputtering on this topic achieved what you hoped it would. obama announces, you know what? fuck it. let's legalize it.

ah, but then, the states still have to legalize it.


it would be very easy for the federal government to make them - all they would have to do is say that states that refused would not get funding for police forces

it's worked with the legal drinking age laws, where the feds said they wouldn't give highway funds to states that didn't raise the age to 21 - it's worked on some other kinds of laws

there's no reason it couldn't work on marijuana laws, too - not that it's a real likely thing to happen, but the federal government DOES have the power to persuade the states to legalize
posted by pyramid termite at 9:54 PM on March 27, 2009 [2 favorites]


Seems like everyone forgot about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
posted by Allan Gordon at 10:41 PM on March 27, 2009


yes, but that would be a drastic overreach of executive authority, not even worthy of a penny ante would-be dictator like our last president. and for obama to withhold funding state police forces to ram his legalization policies issued by decree down the throats of every state in america would be a damn sure way to guarantee we wouldn't see another politician with even an inkling of sympathy for causes like legalization elected again in our lifetimes. hell, i might not even vote for him again because i really don't believe it's a good idea for any president to be throwing the weight of the executive branch around that much.

and in fact, states could still opt to cover their state police services exclusively out of their own budgets. the federal government doesn't provide the majority of funding for law enforcement in most states. there would be big cuts in services, but they could reallocate budget from elsewhere out of state revenues (in other words, there'd be more education cuts). it would put huge revenue strains on the states, most of which are already severely strained, and those states could then plausibly blame their budget woes on obama. they might even file suit against the administration, arguing that punitively withholding funding for basic services amount to an unconstitutional infringement on the states' rights to self-determination, and the supreme court, loaded as it is with conservatives, might even rule in their favor.

this whole premise strikes me as really way off in crazy-talk territory.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:00 PM on March 27, 2009


Fine. Can we at least get it moved to Schedule IV and maybe fund a little research?
posted by ryanrs at 11:35 PM on March 27, 2009


yes, but that would be a drastic overreach of executive authority

well, no - i'm talking about a mechanism that has been used in several bills passed by congress over the last few years to bully states into doing things they might not otherwise do

they might even file suit against the administration, arguing that punitively withholding funding for basic services amount to an unconstitutional infringement on the states' rights to self-determination, and the supreme court, loaded as it is with conservatives, might even rule in their favor.

it's already been tried

it's politically unlikely to happen, but it could actually be done
posted by pyramid termite at 5:40 AM on March 28, 2009


Seems like everyone forgot about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

You mean because that too was a baby-step in the right direction? Please.

Understand that it was also a load of horseshit. It had nothing to do with gay rights and everything to do with expanding the pool of potential military recruits, all served with a side of this oughta shut 'em up (in more ways than one). Then, finally, the government could get back to ignoring the problem.

Under DADT, let's say a soldier is being harrassed--or worse--because his colleagues have found out he's gay. What does he do if telling his commanding officer gets him in trouble? What if a gay soldier is afraid of being outed? Maybe he overcompensates by being the fag-bashingest one in the bunch. Gee, thanks, Clinton!

And they're fighting for what again? "All men are created equal"? "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"?

Huh.

Just rip off the Band-Aid already. This one-hair-at-a-time technique just prolongs the agony. Quit wasting time, quit wasting money, quit wasting lives, and just do the right thing.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:38 AM on March 28, 2009


"the money you save could be put to far, far better use, like saving up for a house, or saving up for retirement, or saving up for anything but that new chrome-plated bong you've been eyeing."

A house? In this market? Yeah, right. An investment that's likely to lose me thousands of dollars.

Saving up for retirement? And lose all my money in the stock market?

A chrome-plated bong is patently ridiculous, but it's much cheaper and less risky than any of that responsible financial crap.

Hell, it takes me about 50 times longer to go through a given amount of weed than it would to go through the amount of, say, cigarettes or liquor costing the same amount. Weed is heck of cheap.
posted by tehloki at 8:25 PM on March 29, 2009


Nate Silver: Why Marijuana Legalization is Gaining Momentum
posted by homunculus at 5:14 PM on April 6, 2009


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