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.

- Joe Klare

About The Author

Joe Klare has been writing about marijuana issues for the past 5 years online, in print and on air.

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  • daniel_7322

    Waiting for change? Time’s up! High time to support cannabis friendly politicians whenever possible. Time also to pass up another puppet and hope for someone better. And please, make no mistake that this is a major issue!!! With 5% of the population and 25% of the worlds prisoners America does have a MAJOR ISSUE on it’s hands with the current drug policy and cannabis prohibition and it should not be downplayed by a smirking president (speaks volumes about his real intentions) and double talk. He did say he’s against legalization. What else do you need to know?

  • http://jimisviewfromthestands.blogspot.com Jimi Burleigh

    The legalization of “all drugs” is a long, long way from the sensible steps that can be taken to vastly improve America’s drug policy. One such sensible step in this direction would be for President Obama to direct the DEA to reschedule marijuana.

    The removal of this “Sword of Damocles” that looms over the entire medical cannabis community across all 15 states and the District of Columbia where the people have, in almost every case, voted by overwhelming majorities to allow the use of – and safe access to – medicinal cannabis.

    The will of the people should not be usurped by the government! Oh, wait,isn’t that the neo-conservative, T.E.A. Party – and new GOP leadership – mantra? So all those so-called “tenther’s” out there should be in full-throated support of the individual states rights to govern themselves without federal over-reach.

    The issue for the President isn’t whether all drugs ought to be legal, that ain’t happening anytime soon – and personally I don’t think it should ever happen. Legalization of Heroin is as stupid an idea as putting marijuana on the same level as Heroin in the war on drugs. There is just no comparison in the physical damage that Heroin does to the human body, in the social & economic damage that Heroin does to communities, or in the effect that Heroin has on crime in American society. The issue needs to be laser focused on the laws surrounding marijuana and the medical use of cannabis.

    I am heartened that President Obama is at least willing to accept that a discussion of America’s drug policy is worthy and, indeed, necessary. Once we get the DEA and federal government out of the picture with respect to the control of cannabis, two things will happen:

    1) States can regulate and tax the cannabis industry. Once this is a reality the cannabis industry will become a “cash-cow” in terms of state and local jurisdiction revenue. As soon as the 35 states that do not have medical cannabis laws see the revenue potential in the cannabis industry they will have medical cannabis laws faster than you can say “Jack Herer”.

    2) Marijuana smuggling pretty much goes away. Seriously, when was the last time you heard of an illegal Scotch Whiskey smuggling cartel being busted? Nineteen thirty-something, I think. Take just that one product out of the war on drugs and that would allow for a more effective policy on the drugs that really are damaging to the nation. Like Heroin, and alcohol.

    That marijuana will become legal is not really in doubt. It is only a matter of when and how it becomes legal that is in question. By the time my 21 year old son is my age (I’m 52) this will be done. His 20ish kid will wonder that marijuana was illegal just as people wonder that alcohol was actually outlawed at one time in America. It is my belief that we, who have the opportunity to help craft cannabis legislation, wither as citizen activist or as an elected representative of the people, that works for all members of the medical cannabis community. It isn’t going to be easy and it won’t happen immediately. But it will be worth the effort, of that I am sure. Someone once said, “Decisions get made by those that show-up”. Let’s be the ones that show-up.

    Peace and long life!

  • wakker

    Public health issue: sounds nice, but as a voluntary and health concious marijuana user, using a vaporizer to reduce damage, I don’t feel like needing support for health reasons.

    Just like with alcohol, it can become a health issue for some that can’t control themselves. But reducing all drugs use to a health issue is nonsensical. For many it is harmless and pleasant, for some it can even be beneficial. And yes, for some it may become an addiction and thus a health issue.

  • TonyDFixer

    Our government is of the People by the People & for the People…. If this is working correctly Cannabis will be legalized. I hope to see it happen in my lifetime,[ IT IS ON MY BUCKET LIST ] GOD BLESS AMERICA & AMERICANS & ALL CITIZENS OF THE WORLD…

  • Change Is So Awesome

    I am horrified by President Obama’s negligence on this issue. I smoke marijuana, not tobacco, and not for medical purposes either, and I am proud of it. This law is unjust and I refuse to be referred to as a criminal for my use of recreational marijuana.

  • I AM NOT A CRIMINAL

    Obama sucks. I am not voting for him again. As someone who brags openly about his use of marijuana in his youth, he is a hypocrite. Weed must be really terrible for you if all of our recent presidents have admitted to using it, and still became president LOL! Time to legalize. We are not criminals. It is not the same as drugs like Heroin or Cocaine. Stop treating it like it is. GARY JOHNSON for PRESIDENT in 2012!!!!

  • craig

    A policy that aids terrorist organizations while depriving cancer sufferers the opportunity to use a substance, which has been proven to work as an effective treatment for the nausea brought about by chemotherapy, which is an excellent pain relief and which increases the appetite of such sufferers – thereby aiding a return to full health – is evil. I am from the UK, Mr. president. Like so many the world over, when you were running for president, I looked upon a man who embodied a heroism, someone who strode the political landscape with an authoritative elegance. Seeing you the other day, however, pander to an idiotic minority, who had the gall to laugh when the question of legalization was raised, made you look very small.

  • http://calpotnews.com Bud Green

    Politics is a game of words, first and foremost, and it’s possible that Obama focused on the public health angle to start laying the groundwork for additional funding down the road. It’s not going to happen today, not with the recession, and probably not tomorrow either. But if the president can start couching the issue in terms of public health, that makes it easier for other to do so inside and outside the halls of government. As Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance noted at the recent CalNORML conference in Berkeley, Obama has made it impossible for drug czar Gil Kerlikowske to say that cannabis law reform isn’t worthy of debate. It is, and the sooner that debate begins, the better.