'Legalize Marijuana' Petition Leads in Votes on White House's New 'We The People' Site - Will Obama Listen?

With the White House's new "We The People" petition website, citizens can directly petition government to address whatever issues they please.  That these petitions will actually influence policy is doubtful, but they may help to provide some important communication. Any issue receiving 5,000 signatures within 30 days will be evaluated by the White House. 

The petition to "legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol"  received almost twenty thousand signatures - five times the amount required for a response - in just two days, making it the most popular petition on the site.  But the petition asks for more than the legalization of marijuana, and its second request may be even more important: The petition asks the White House to explain how continued criminalization will be successful after decades of failure, thus cleverly forcing the Obama administration to back up a policy based on the denial of fact. 

The petition says:

We the people want to know when we can have our "perfectly legitimate" discussion on marijuana legalization. Marijuana prohibition has resulted in the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965, countless lives ruined and hundreds of billions of tax dollars squandered and yet this policy has still failed to achieve its stated goals of lowering use rates, limiting the drug's access, and creating safer communities.

Isn't it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol? If not, please explain why you feel that the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?

The administration's refusal to acknowledge the reality of prohibition and the science behind marijuana has been an alarming recurrence of late.  In fact, the problem is so bad that a federal lawsuitis challenging the Drug Enforcement Agency's monopoly on marijuana research.  The DEA, the case shows, allows only  the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) to  supply marijuana for Food and Drug Administration -approved marijuana research.  Scientists are thereby denied the very materials necessary to analyze the medical benefits of marijuana, and the DEA conveniently blocks  information that would expose the ills of our current marijuana policy. 

But this petition will force the Obama Administration to face its faulty logic. 

The website says,

 “If a petition gets enough support, White House staff will review it, ensure it’s sent to the appropriate policy experts, and issue an official response.”

While the "proper policy experts" will most likely to be the consistently anti-marijuana DEA and NIDA, holding Obama responsible for the mass incarceration of peaceful pot smokers is an urgent demand.  An estimated 46 percent of all drug arrests are for offenses related to marijuana possession, despite the fact that marijuana is medically beneficial and legal for such use in sixteen states and the District of Columbia.  

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at September 23, 2011, 10:45am

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