First, let me be clear: I am fully aware that Barack Obama is a sitting President, a job in itself that calls for calm, measured responses. No one expected the President to hear the question during his Youtube interview about drug legalization, jump out of his chair, scream “hellz yes!” and pull a blunt from his suit jacket pocket.
The response we did get (video below) is about what could have been expected. Obama decided to forgo the strategies of laughing at cannabis users and ignoring them, and went to the time-honored tradition of pleasantries combined with a falsehood or two.
Let me be clear about something else: while a lot of the submitted questions were about drug legalization, cannabis users are the ones who fuel the debate. Any discussion about drug legalization begins with marijuana, and that’s where all policy would start. The success of cannabis legalization would dictate the laws for all other illicit drugs. So while the top question was about drug legalization, it’s really about cannabis since that’s where it would all begin.
Obama said legalization is a topic “worthy of debate,” but made it clear he is against it. While that’s a perfectly valid point of view, the problem arises when the President discussed his feeling that drug abuse is a public health issue and that resources should be shifted from law enforcement to treatment. This talk is contrary to his latest budget, which allocates $15.5 billion to drug law enforcement, 2/3rd’s of the entire drug budget.
It would seem that if the President wants more resources shifted to treatment, he would include that in his budget. While the words sound nice, actions are what we are looking for Mr. President. Your actions belie your words.