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Mar-28-2009 16:08TweetFollow @OregonNews
President Used Marijuana but Mocks & Dismisses LegalizationPolitical Perspective by Allan Erickson Salem-News.com
A former marijuana user; Obama says there will be no quarter for the herb under his reign.
(EUGENE, Ore.) - So... Mr. Obama doesn't think that legalizing cannabis (marijuana) is a good idea and we aren't going to go there? Huh. I can't say as I'm shocked. I will say that I am disappointed.
In an online "townhall" Thursday, March 26, the President responded to an online query about legalization: "With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?"
The reason he tackled this question is because the online community keeps asking it. Mr. Obama's answer to the question was only mockish and dismissive: "There was one question that voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation," he said. "And I don't know what this says about the online audience, but ... this was a popular question. We want to make sure it's answered. The answer is no, I don't think that's a good strategy to grow our economy. All right."
But, as any student of drug policy knows, pot's Prohibition is based solely on racist fantasies and never has science or social sense been a factor. The banning of cannabis actually is codified racism and xenophobia, which of course makes it very much a civil rights issue. Pete Guither over at Drug War Rant has an excellent primer, Why is Marijuana Illegal?
I advise anyone under-educated on the subject read it. I'm not sure if the President realizes that he is now engaged -- whether he likes it or not -- in the discussion about legalizing cannabis and that his dismissal will not go unchallenged. And well it should be challenged.
Just recently the President made this declaration: "Promoting science isn't just about providing resources, it is also about protecting free and open inquiry," Obama said. "It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient especially when it's inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."
OK. And what if we apply that statement to the question of legalizing cannabis? If we applied the truth today, pot would be legal by Monday. Virtually every study done by our government -- including Richard Nixon's Schaeffer Commission -- has called for no less than the decriminalization of cannabis.
From the late 19th century India Hemp Commission, to the LaGuardia Report from the '40s to the end of the 20th century's report from the Drug Enforcement Administration's chief administrative law judge Francis Young (who called cannabis "one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man"), the legacy of pot studies demands legalization.
As a former pot smoker himself, the President should realize that while his pot smoking didn't disqualify him as a candidate for the highest office in the land, a conviction surely would have.
Every day in the United States 99 people an hour are arrested for pot. Nearly a million people a year. Now that is a lot of police time, court time and sometimes jail time that we pay for.
And what is the goal of this prohibition again? Do we believe Prohibition II has stopped anyone from trying pot?
When Mr. Obama said, "It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology" does he realize that is exactly what IS happening with cannabis? Does he know that the government has known since 1974 that pot has great potential as a cancer fighter and that the National Institute of Health report from that study was buried until the end of the 1990s?
Is he aware that in federal marijuana cases defendants are denied the right to mention their medical use, because the federal government says "there is no medical use."
A policy, Mr. President, that cost Peter McWilliams his life.
A policy, Mr President, that exists in spite of the fact the US Government is the sole legal supplier of medical cannabis in the US and that they distribute this medical cannabis to the 4 remaining patients enrolled in the Compassionate Investigational New Drug program.
A policy that exists in spite of the fact that our government holds US Patent 6630507, "Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants." If you are going to acknowledge your own pot use Mr. President you have to realize that the myth of the lazy stoner (and just for good measure let's add Michael Phelps and Carl Sagan to the equation) is now decimated - literally blown out of the water.
The cat is out the bag sir. Pot Prohibition is a lie, the Controlled Substances Act is a lie and the war on pot has absolutely, undeniably failed. And if you don't believe me? Ask one of the many former or current criminal justice professionals who comprise the core of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).
If a Seattle Police Chief is qualified to be the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, certainly some of those former police chiefs, narcotics officers, prosecutors and judges who are the driving force behind LEAP deserve to join the drug policy discussion as equals to those representatives of anti-drug organizations who (up until now) hold a inequitably dominant share at the drug policy table.
You can find more of Allan Erickson's work at: http://morningdonut.blogspot.com/
Here is a video clip from CNN of Obama's remarks:
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