Barack Obama is lame. Honestly, dude is too smooth for himself. The awful choreographed “Internet Town Hall” meeting finally brought up the serious question of ending the prohibition on marijuana. Obama made sure the question was raised so he could dismiss it. The fact that he has to dismiss it is some measure of how serious the question really has become.
Many hundreds of thousands of lives are ruined by the drug war in this country. Over 800,000 people were arrested on marijuana charges last year, the vast majority for possession. That means no student loans, no food stamps, no housing assistance, no public housing, etc. not to mention the legal and financial penalties as well as the real time people are doing. The so-called Drug War funnels billions of public dollars in a totally vain criminalization policy aimed at the poor, immigrants and black people. The criminalization of drugs is the chief cause of drug violence. This is a serious question.
Obama uber-coolly made a point to let this generation know that he smoked weed. Everyone smokes weed. There is nothing counter-cultural about it any more. It’s mainstream. Now that the first warm days of spring have arrived my neighborhood smells like the Monterey Pop Festival. And my neighborhood is better for it.
Obama’s flip response to the question is a slap in the face of everyone going through the system for doing what he did. Should he have been arrested? Should he have gone to jail? Should his buddy who packed the bowl?
But more importantly than his hypocrisy his position on the War on Drugs is telling. If there ever was a failed strategy; and every single piece of data will prove the failure of the criminalization of drugs to stop drug use or production, than the War on Drugs is one.
Given the reason that people do drugs for reasons that have nothing to do with their legal status. Given that it has overwhelmingly targeted black people, poor people and the most vulnerable in our society, given that it is a monumental waste of resources and creates the crime it states its aim is to prevent. Given the harm done to individuals, families and communities whose members languish in jail for possession or don’t get treatment for real problems because of the stigma of illegality. Given all that, how would any logical, let alone “progressive”, person respond to such a failed strategy (it makes Iraq seem small by comparison)? With a flip dismissal of change, of course. Just like the “change” brought by his financial team, it’s only more of the same.
Readers of this blog don’t need to be told the benefits of ending the War on Drugs. I am for the legalization of all drugs. This is a public health issue at most. I am also for people to do what they will with their own bodies. If that means a two month peyote binge, who I am to say no? Of course some drugs are wicked, evil shit. Booze has destroyed lots of lives. Far, far more than smoking weed has. It has also been a central feature in a thousand million beautiful moments in the lives of others.
I saw Obama in another uber-cool photo-op at a Bulls game sipping a tall cold one. There was a time when that was illegal too. No one would suggest banning it any more. Not after the insanity of false morality, crime, bureaucracy and waste of 1930’s prohibition, surely? And, I for one, would much rather have my neighborhood smelling the sweet summer smell of Monterey rather than the sweaty beer-soaked odor of Altamont.
Activists in the decriminalization movement are rightly pissed at Obama’s indifference and hypocrisy. Beyond that movement other things are happening. There is respectable money now apart of the many billions of dollar marijuana industry and they are one part of the economy that is not tanking right now. The calls for decriminalization are coming from many corners. Conservatives and libertarians are also raising it. Especially as budget cuts make the bloated prison industrial complex with associated law enforcement agencies at risk of target.
A Zogby poll just released says a majority of people in the West now support legalization. Other parts of the country are well above 40%. California and Massachusetts are both to vote soon on bills decriminalizing and regulating marijuana. Not decriminalisation, not “medical marijuana”, but legalization. Now is the time to strike on this issue. We need folks in the street saying the War on Drugs must end. If we win with marijuana it will be so much easier to argue against the rest of the War on Drugs.
Heads are another constituency Obama has disappointed and we are only months in! Here’s a funny video put up by some irate heads. Clearly, Obama has chosen to not respond to appeals on the question. We need action.