So apparently, President Obama ruled out the possibility of legalizing marijuana as a means of job creation in his online “town hall” meeting earlier today, as noted here.
“This was a fairly popular question — we want to make sure it was answered. The answer is no. I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy,” he said to laughter and applause from the live East Room audience of union members, teachers, business leaders and others.
It seems part of the popularity of marijuana questions was fueled by NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, which urged people to vote for questions supporting the legalization of cannabis in a posting on its Web site.
“Rather than rebuff the public’s calls for taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol, the new administration ought to be embracing it,” Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML, said in an e-mail. “According to two recent polls — one by Zogby and a separate California field poll — a majority of west coast voters support regulating cannabis like alcohol. This is not a ‘laughing’ matter.”
First of all, Zogby polls aren’t really reliable (I’ll defer to Markos Moulitsas of The Daily Kos who can give a much more substantive explanation on this than I could). Second, this would concern me if the Obama Administration were inclined to try and overrule how states such as Oregon regulate the availability of cannabis as a means of medical therapy for cancer patients; this isn’t going to happen because he has already said the federal government won’t interfere (though that didn’t stop “the party of states’ rights” under Bushco from wreaking pointless havoc on this question).
Third, can you imagine the field day Drudge, Fix Noise and their brethren would have if Obama gave even the slightest hint that he was promoting pot? And I’m not saying that should be the barometer for every decision, but that battle, if Obama ever chooses to fight it (and I don’t think he does), is one for another time and place.
As I read about Obama’s response and the attendant media dustup, however, it seems that the question of legalizing pot versus decriminalizing it is getting blurred.
With this is mind, this tells us about a bill introduced by Barney Frank and Ron Paul that would have eliminated federal penalties for the personal use of about 100 grams or less of pot (about 3.5 ounces) that died in the 110th Congress (a good idea, I think – pointless to waste precious law enforcement resources trying to prosecute someone “taking a toke” – as noted here, it would have led to the decriminalization of marijuana as opposed to the legalization, which is where your humble narrator stands on the subject). Also, this story provides background on the whole question of whether pot is a “gateway” to harder drugs, a “chicken versus the egg” conundrum that I don’t think will ever really be solved.
And in other news involving potentially addictive substances, this bobcat walks into a bar…no, really.
Update: I thought this was a good clarification.
Update 3/31/09: I’ve never favored the legalization of drugs, but I have to give Jack Cafferty credit here for holding up our failed drug policies before “the cold light of day” – definitely something to think about.