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Mar-28-2009 14:17printcomments

President Obama -- Out of Touch, or A Hypocrite?

When I think about the vast numbers of people who are serving time for nothing more than marijuana possession, and the havoc incarceration wreaks on them, their families, and everyone they will meet in the future, I'm very sad.

Barack Obama

(SALEM, Ore.) - On Thursday, March 26th, President Obama hosted an Internet town hall meeting, inviting the public to submit and vote on questions to be asked about the economy.

It was exciting to see that several of the most popular submissions were questioning the economic wisdom of continuing the drug war, and specifically the war on marijuana consumers, in these tough economic times.

Unfortunately, while the President clearly got the message that there's tremendous public interest in this issue, he seemed to be out of touch with the realities of today's drug war.

His only response was to joke, "There was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation, (and I don't know what this says about the online audience).

The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy."

Although there were many questions asked about cannabis, most had little if anything to do with legalizing it to "grow our economy."

People were asking very serious questions related to the massacres south of our border, and whether bringing the drug profits funding them into a legal, taxed, and regulated market might help turn the tide. They were asking our President if he believes that chasing down cannabis consumers is really a wise use of our scarce resources in these difficult economic times. But he turned this important discussion into a tasteless, offensive joke, disparaging the citizens he had asked to submit questions in the first place.

Considering our tax dollars are spent to incarcerate more of our citizens per capita than any other nation, not to mention the societal costs of having 1 in 31 adult Americans behind bars or on parole or probation, this seems to me to be a serious issue.

Adding in the cost of all of the lives lost and families torn apart in an ideological and hypocritical pursuit of a "drug free America," (brought to you by Merck and Pfizer, of course), I don't understand what President Obama found so funny.

When I think about the vast numbers of people who are serving time for nothing more than marijuana possession, and the havoc incarceration wreaks on them, their families, and everyone they will meet in the future, I'm very sad. In addition to being punished through the loss of their freedom, there's also the enormous risk of prison rape. People who've ever been incarcerated more than 72 hours are not allowed to donate plasma because the doctors assume they've been raped and may have contracted a blood-borne disease. There's nothing funny about that.

Again, I don't understand what President Obama finds funny about any of this. Maybe it's only funny if you got away with using cannabis and became President, and you never again have to worry about being arrested, incarcerated, raped, and stigmatized for life.


Erin Hildebrandt wears many hats. She's wife to Bill Hildebrandt, mom to five beautiful kids, activist, artist, legally registered Oregon medical marijuana patient, public speaker, and an internationally published writer. She co-founded Parents Ending Prohibition, and her writing has been printed in Mothering Magazine, New York's Newsday, and Canada's National Post, among many others. Erin has been interviewed for a front page story in USA Today, and she has been published in the American Bar Association Journal. Speaking as a survivor of child sexual abuse, Erin also appeared on the Geraldo Rivera show. She has also testified before Oregon Senate and House committees, and Maryland Senate and House committees. We are very pleased to feature the work of Erin Hildebrandt on

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Audacity April 30, 2009 12:04 pm (Pacific time)

Good points...a little biased, but what isnt. Spell check is crucial! reeks...not wreaks...

Daniel April 2, 2009 12:59 pm (Pacific time)

Mark Bryan the documents you list were drafted on hemp the finals were on animal parchment . Ford experimented with hemp and made experimental body parts , a hemp car was never put into production . Hemp in house manufacturing is the way of the future . Currently China produces the vast majority of hemp . I also recommend everyone should read Jacks book , a great source of information . I also recommend the opposition to oregon HB 3274 , it takes medical marijuana production from the patient and gives it to the state to tax and limit the thc !

James Raider April 1, 2009 3:58 pm (Pacific time)

THE WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON OUR OWN SOCIETY Prohibition strains the Constitution and The War on Drugs has been a misguided failure. END IT. Time to regain control of our streets and our sanity.

Anonymous April 1, 2009 11:25 am (Pacific time)

Well let's see. He made fun of the 'internet crowd', which is the same crowd he made his case for being President to. I believe if the 'internet crowd' had voted for McCain en masse instead of him he wouldn't be President. He should listen to the 'internet crowd' we elected him, but now we are a joke to him... What he ought to do is to simply let States make their own laws, but that won't happen. It used to be legal to have a certain amount for personal use in Alaska. I think it was the early 90's when that changed and it was the Federal government that said "hey, no more Federal Funds for roads and schools unless you change your laws". He was able to make fast decisions on spending us another 30% into debt than we already were, but he is a two faced monster with no spine with it comes to marijuana. I guess he is happy with gun toting drug lords having their piece of the pie.

Mark Bryan April 1, 2009 11:09 am (Pacific time)

MY issue for legalizin' cannabis has more to do with hemp! The Declaration of Independence,Bill of Rights and Constitution were all written on hemp paper,Henry Ford made cars from it back in'41 and you can build houses from it! You can find that and more here!

Michael March 29, 2009 10:57 am (Pacific time)

Exactly what I wanted to say! Thank you for writing!

Loretta Nall March 29, 2009 7:45 am (Pacific time)

Spectacular piece Erin!! And you look fabulous by the way. How are Bill and the kids? Love you, Loretta

ThereGoesHisStreetCred March 28, 2009 10:39 pm (Pacific time)

He seems to have plenty of time to call dissident bloggers into the white house for fatherly lectures. This is just weird. WND Exclusive MEDIA MATTERS YouTube star summoned to White House? Promises radio talk show first interview afterwards--The man who created two phenomenally successful "We The People" YouTube videos urging Americans to stand up against Congress and reclaim their republic now – or perhaps lose it forever – reportedly has been summoned to the White House by President Obama to discuss the subject matter of the short films. Bob Basso, who posts videos under the name funbobbasso on YouTube, has created videos in which he portrays Thomas Paine, author of the "Common Sense" pamphlet that made the case for independence during the American Revolution...

chris johnson March 28, 2009 8:50 pm (Pacific time)

Yeah it's a hot stove-- and we're inside the pot with the water incrementally heating up.

Henry Ruark March 28, 2009 8:42 pm (Pacific time)

To all: See Comment re patience name of game, under Erickson story above. Reality in D.C. demands not so much strength as sagacity, common sense, probing exam of opponents, potent pressures on vulnerabilities --and TIME ! He KNOWS both truth-needed and necessities to win one more, with huge, heavy, horrid healthcare, economy, wasting wars, and more all at stake, all at once. Patience, kids ! Tantrums and screaming impatience can truly spill the stew cookin' on that very hot stove...he has real enemies selling any way to smash-and-burn early.

Daniel March 28, 2009 5:37 pm (Pacific time)

Henry i was going to post a response similar to yours but you beat me to it . Your post if far more articulate than mine so i will not be redundant . The President is not a dictator , altho Bush tried , and has to compromise in a dire economic time . Much of what he has proposed and actualized i support . I am disappointed in his current position on decriminalization but understand and hope he will change .

Anonymous March 28, 2009 5:32 pm (Pacific time)

Well Henry, as a President Obama should be able to cope under pressure. His actions however shows me that he is not fit to be the President of the United States. Obama is suppose to make quick decisions and he is not able to do that. I think it's the best for this man to step down and let a real leader take care of the problem. Obama might be good enough to be a College President or a community leader, but not the President of our great Country.

<b>Editor: But you sound so demeaning; you lose any hint of credibility in making your point.  I heard someone say today that the biggest problem Obama has had has been so damned much pressure.  He had a one day honeymoon.  I am very unhappy with some of his decisions includin this one, but I totally disagree with your description of the situation.</b>  

Henry Ruark March 28, 2009 3:17 pm (Pacific time)

Erin et al: With reverent regard for all you have done, have become and ARE --example to many, many now in this very complex life we must live together-- please allow me to suggest that President O is simply so deep into so many issues, pressed every moment for significant words, and sometimes surely caught short on what's been done, needs doing, and MUST be done NEXT and NOW, that he is humanly, sometimes, not "quick on the moment" for everything, everyone, and every policy. It has been my unhappy fate to be part of group caught in very closely similar public view, preparing prominent speaker for similar grilling, only to find him trapped by momentary lapse, forced to retreat into joking response, with same impact as you now so rightly resent. I agree it was poorly done, must be remedied by action soon; am informed it is "on the way". Our man was NOT of O-caliber nor was situation so fraught with negatives as his ongoing every-moment now surely is. Given horrendous situation you have so long and well worked to remedy --action I surely agree with, as notes and content sent to Bon have proven-- keep right on with information and actions, and await near-future turn-around, when he's had time to snatch away heavy-pressure perps at work, as you well know.

Jim Dandy March 28, 2009 2:53 pm (Pacific time)

The other night on Jay Leno Pres. Obama made a joke about the Special Olympics and when he did I thought how sad. I felt the same way when Pres. Obama had his lil chuckle at the expense of thousand of medical marijuana patients. Their disabilities and suffering deserve just as much respect as any American. He has always asked the public to hold his feet to the fire, to call him on his promises. During his run for Pres. he made statements about medical marijuana that have yet to come true and every day he drags his feet the lives of families are badly damaged with busts, trials, legal costs,a record, plus the jail time. All of that for following state laws in many cases. The question on marijuana were asked in a serious way and deserved to be thought about and answered in a respectful way.

Anonymous March 28, 2009 2:38 pm (Pacific time)

We have a President who don't give a darn about the American people, don't give a darn about the Constitution. Obama is working on becoming a Dictator. Government owned businesses and spending big $$ on the groups who got him elected. Obama made fun off our handicapped people and while our economy is going down the drain, people losing their jobs, he is sitting on a National show laughing abut it. So, what do you expect from your President? Totally out of touch with the American People.

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