Obama's Curious, Curt Response to a Torrent of Pot Legalization Questions

“The war on drugs has been an utter failure. (W)e need to rethink and decriminalize our (nation's) marijuana laws."


-Barack Obama, January 2004 (Watch the video here.)

"I inhaled frequently, that was the point."

-Barack Obama, November 2006 (Watch the video here.)

Q: "Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?"

A: "President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana."

-Statement from Change.gov, the official website of President-Elect Obama, December 15, 2008

Okay, count me among those disappointed, but hardly surprised to see that Change.gov -- the official website of the incoming Obama administration -- answered the above question, which finished first out of over 7,000 public policy questions submitted to the website, in the most curt and dismissive way possible.

That said, as StoptheDrugWar.org's Scott Morgan writes, Obama's brevity is, in fact, quite telling.

As frustrating and insulting as it is to witness an important matter brushed casually to the side without explanation, Obama's answer actually says a lot. It says that he couldn't think of even one sentence to explain his position. Within the vast framework of totally paranoid anti-pot propaganda, Obama couldn't find a single argument he wanted to associate himself with. That's why he simply said "No. Next question."

All of this highlights the well-known fact that Obama agrees that our marijuana laws are deeply flawed. He's said so, and has back-pedaled recently for purely political reasons. If Obama's transition team tried to give an accurate description of his position on marijuana reform it would look like this:

Q: "Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?" S. Man, Denton

A: President-elect Obama will not use his political capital to advance the legalization of marijuana. While he agrees that arresting adults for marijuana possession is a poor use of law enforcement resources, he believes that the issue remains too controversial to do anything about it.

In fact, Obama essentially said as much earlier this year when asked about the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

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