Stoned or Just Plain Stupid?

I see there was a lot of pearl clutching and plaintive wails about Obama murdering someone’s unicorn regarding Obama’s response to marijuana the other day, and I would like to note a few things. First, though, his response:

“…we took votes about which questions were going to be asked, and I think 3 million people voted or 3.5 million people voted,” he said. “I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation.”

The president then joked that “I don’t know what this says about the online audience,” prompting laughter from the roughly 100 people gathered in the White House East Room for the event.

“…but I just want — I don’t want people to think that — this was a fairly popular question,” he continued. “We want to make sure that it was answered.”

Some thoughts.

First, and this is directed right at the drama queens at Reason, who have turned into the most tedious online presence since the PUMA crowd (“Obama on Pot: Har Har Har, The Joke’s On You!”), Obama has never supported legalization. It was never a position he took during the campaign, it was never a promise he made, and the farthest I believe he ever went was to support some level of decriminalization, re-thinking rehabilitation, changing the way we deal with medical marijuana, and shifting many of these decisions back to the state.

Second, I don’t know of anyone who is suggesting that marijuana legalization is the key to economic recovery. I hear people throw out the “legalize it and tax it” stuff, but I don’t know of any studies that break the numbers down (if there are some, I would love to see them). For all we know, it might be a push economically. Considering all of the social costs of alcohol use and abuse, that is not unrealistic to think that perhaps marijuana might be the same. Personally, I would bet that there would be modest economic benefit to marijuana decriminalization and legalization, but an even greater societal benefit (in both cost and in other variables) to decriminalization and legalization. Regardless, anyone who thinks that in a $14 trillion GDP that marijuana will be a meaningful and substantive force to economic recovery probably has other reasons they want marijuana legalized.

Third, I would argue this is more a reaction to the folks “freeping” the online town hall with marijuana legalization questions than it is a deep insight into what Obama and the administration thinks. They have already made moves regarding DEA raids of medical marijuana shops, and we need to make sure they keep to that promise.

Fourth, when did it become unacceptable to make stoner jokes? Has anyone told Hollywood? Has anyone told Seth Rogan?

Finally, I would like to note that Obama is, to a fault, a cautious politician. All these notions of him being a reckless radical lefty are creations of the brain-dead right, and there is simply nothing out there to suggest he is going to move quickly or radically regarding marijuana laws. It really does seem that a lot of people bought into the right-wing bullshit about this guy. He isn’t a socialist. He isn’t a radical Muslim. He doesn’t hate capitalism. He doesn’t hate Wall Street. He has gotten where he is by moving slowly, calculating, and being non-threatening. As we also discovered regarding gay rights, he doesn’t think there is any point to rapid change that will be overturned, and instead prefers slow, sustainable change.

I honestly don’t remember a time when people of both sides of the aisle projected their own beliefs so heavily on a guy and then felt betrayed or surprised when he didn’t behave according to those beliefs. The reaction yesterday among the right to his Afghanistan plan was just more of the same. They were actually surprised when he proposed a serious plan, with benchmarks and an actual commitment to defeating Al Qaeda and the Taliban and a pledge to increase troops and material support to the region. Where have you been for the last three years when Obama was stating his position on Afghanistan over and over again?

Long story short, there is nothing in Obama’s past to suggest he would suddenly support legalization of marijuana. There is no evidence that I am aware of that legalizing marijuana would be a significant measure for economic recovery. There was nothing in his response that showed any deviation from what he has always said. There is no reason for anyone who supports legalization to feel betrayed. You may not like his position, may not think it is right, but if you thought he ran on a platform of marijuana legalization you are either stoned or just plain stupid.






213 replies
  1. 1
    Karmakin says:

    Actually, what’s missing from that quip is that Obama was chuckling at the "grow the economy" pun that he made. The guy has a weird sense of humor. Actually, the way I’d put it is this.

    Obama….he’s just dis guy..za know?

  2. 2
    El Cid says:

    I am entirely opposed to President Obama’s plan to have Bill Ayers be in charge of growing Kenyan marijuana which will then be forcibly administered at taxpayer expense to the Tea Party detainees in the Fannie and Freddie detention centers built by illegal gay Mexican Muslims.

  3. 3
    Lilly von Schtupp says:

    Did anyone watch Bill Maher last night? He was particularly offended by Obama’s answer to this question. Mos Def was very funny though. Ha Ha.

  4. 4
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    Obama to stoners: Drop dead.

    Whatever.

    I am in favor of legalization simply because criminalization of pot makes no sense to me. It’s the equivalent of criminalizing White Zinfandel.

    But as the top post points out, nobody voted for Obama because they thought he would legalize pot. So let the stoners bang the trash can lids all they want, I don’t care.

    Sooner or later pot will be legal. In the next four years, though, it’s not at the top of any sane list of things that need to be done.

  5. 5
    Comrade Stuck says:

    This is people who oppose Obama on issues for a variety of reasons, and Obama driving them crazy as bedbugs. They are focused in like so many circling buzzards, parsing every move and word while looking for any shred of weakness to feed upon.

    If you step back and do a little pop Freudian analysis, it wreaks of desperation and frustration. And each day brings a new meme to sling against the wall hoping for stick, and each day these people look sillier.

    Another on the meme watch is criticizing Obama’s leadership Style, whatever that means. You can read about it in the Economist and any number of wingnut blogs, unfortunately to include Mr. Joyner of OTB. A bunch of nattering nags who don’t like Obama’s policies and can’t really slam them because they are exactly what he promised as a candidate.

    The spending and debt is a legitimate worry that even many of Obama’s supporters are squeamish about, especially the bailouts. But none of them can offer any viable alternative, and since they are out of power, they don’t have to. So it goes.

    Next up. Is Obama overexposed?. Oh wait, that was done last week.

  6. 6
    Svensker says:

    Look, John, I voted for a pony and I. Want. The. Pony. Now. Okey dokey?

  7. 7
    Comrade Stuck says:

    My comment went to spam filter, I think. Too many links maybe. Please retrieve, if possible.

  8. 8
    Xecklothxayyquou Gilchrist says:

    Considering all of the social costs of alcohol use and abuse, that is not unrealistic to think that perhaps marijuana might be the same.

    I have a hard time believing that pot would be anywhere near as socially disruptive as alcohol. Consider the fact that a (probably large) fraction of the people who would smoke legal pot are already smoking pot, for one.

    I wouldn’t say there would be no trouble – stoned drivers would be a problem, for instance. But the random belligerence and abusiveness for which alcohol is justly famous aren’t a big problem with pot.

  9. 9
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Sooner or later pot will be legal. In the next four years, though, it’s not at the top of any sane list of things that need to be done.

    There’s an old Italian routine, with popes and change. Pope #1 says "It’ll never happen. It’s impossible. It’s contrary to the laws of Nature." Pope #2 says "It’ll never happen while I’m alive." Pope 3 does it, and gets canonized for it. And the only one of them who actually believed in it was Pope #1.

  10. 10
    JWC says:

    I laugh. Projection, you bet. He is basically doing what he said he would try to do. And folks are "surprised"?

    I’m particularly dissapointed in the reaction from the liberal left. Actually started coming here (I have a daily blog list I hit) since I stopped going to FDL and Open Left.

    I figured he was centrist that was left leaning last February when I realized the Edwards was not going to win the primary and switched my support to Obama.

  11. 11
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @TheOfficialHatOnMyCat: I was once a "trash can lid banger," but legalization dropped to the bottom of my priority pile back in 2001/2002. What with two wars and a Lesser Depression, it still ain’t nowhere near the top of the list.

    That it’s illegal is a damn shame, as any rational person would agree– but ain’t we got bigger fish to fry right now?

  12. 12
    valdivia says:

    Thanks John. I truly did not get the outrage at the answer, the outrage at his saying he would not legalize it–and the idea that this is what would save our economy. Huh?

  13. 13
    orogeny says:

    I don’t understand the decriminalization argument. What would decriminalization really mean? Would marijuana remain illegal, but police just wouldn’t enforce the law…or would they enforce it selectively? Would possession be legal, but sale would be prosecuted? How do people possess something without having a source from which to purchase? Will all the pot smokers have to grow their own?

  14. 14
    Will says:

    I do think there’s an inherent – and longstanding – issue of serious hyprocrisy when it comes to the Washington drug warriors.

    Obama and Clinton have admitted to useful drug indiscretions and Bush’s coke habit is about as open as a secret can get. Politicians and their aides have been longtime financial supporters of the D.C. area narcotics industry. Hell, there’s a reason the band at the Republican convention was called "Hookers and Blow."

    In the background to this is, literally, more than a million people put in jail each year for abusing drugs. We’ve gone from the moral lashing of the Reagan years to the chuckling of the present, but that doesn’t make the anal rape and lifelong financial ruin of the proles who happen to get caught and can’t afford a tony D.C. law firm any less painful.

  15. 15
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @orogeny:

    Um, let’s see. What would it really mean?

    No, no ….. no.

    Yes, no.

    They wouldn’t.

    No.

  16. 16
    buford puser says:

    Making stoner jokes is fine, if you aren’t the chief executive in charge of a criminal justice system that thinks weed is so funny that men with guns will come and lock you up for smoking it.

    It is true that taxed cannabis would form a tiny part of a mammoth US economy; the economic boost would come from the redirection of the huge waste of law enforcement, criminal justice and penal resources currently directed at cannabis enforcement, which is the huge majority of all drug enforcement (since almost all illegal drug use is cannabis use).

    14% of Americans are past-month cannabis users (v. 2% for past-month cocaine use, for example (see NSDUH)); how can we as a society seriously base policy on the idea that 14% of Americans should be arrested & punished? Cannabis is widely available in every community in the US; why would you imagine that there would be any significant increase in use under legalization?

    Clearly you are right that Obama has shown minimal courage on criminal justice issues. However, we have a right to a more serious response to a question on a multi-billion dollar failed government policy than a patronizing answer that depends on his having a shared understanding with the audience that marijuana use is funny.

  17. 17
    John Cole says:

    However, we have a right to a more serious response to a question on a a multi-billion dollar failed government policy than a patronizing answer that depends on his having a shared understanding with the audience that marijuana use is funny.

    And this is why, in a nutshell, I hate being a Democrat. Thousands of people freeping a townhall suggesting marijuana legalization might be the economic cure got EXACTLY the response it deserved.

    Also, I laughed at the Special Olympics joke on Leno. I knew he shouldn’t have said it, but I laughed anyway.

  18. 18
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @buford puser:

    Clearly you are right that Obama has shown minimal courage on criminal justice issues. However, we have a right to a more serious response to a question

    Relax, right after Obama solves the economic crisis and two floundering wars, he is set to cure cancer. I expect then he’ll have some time to get right on the drug problem.

  19. 19

    @El Cid
    Dammit! I was going to criticize you for leaving out the homosexual part but then realized you snuck that in, almost under the gadar so to speak.
    Is there nothing you can’t do?

  20. 20
    Will says:

    Decriminalization is all over the place. In some places, it means reducing the penalties to possession to the equivalent of a traffic fine. In others, it means mandating treatment instead of jail time. In yet other places, it means directing the police to treat anti-pot enforcement as their absolute bottom priority.

    I’m in N.C. and the state recently made first-time possession of a small amount of marijuana punishable by a fine. There’s a creeping backdoor movement here to reduce the prison population, as the cost of prisons was starting to seriously impact the budget even before the crisis.

    The state built a lot of jails and creating a chain of "Prison Industries" workshops that they thought would bring in revenue. Shockingly, prison labor paying pennies on the dollar still can’t compete in cost or quality with the factories from China.

    So, the state’s trying to balance the budget by slashing prison costs. It’s either that, teachers or highways. I imagine N.C. is not alone in realizing that they’ve creating a massive millstone on the economy that made voters happy in good days, but is becoming increasingly politically dangerous as voters start to realize that the choice really is schools or prisons.

    Releasing non-violent drug offenders and decriminalizing mj is the easiest solution and it seems to be the one that a lot of states are choosing. There’s political blowback to be sure, but unlike the Washington crowd, governors tend to get directly blamed for the quality of state services.

  21. 21

    However, we have a right to a more serious response to a question on a a multi-billion dollar failed government policy than a patronizing answer that depends on his having a shared understanding with the audience that marijuana use is funny.

    Then perhaps we have a right to a serious marijuana legalization movement, and not one that consists of freeping a poll in favor of an idiotic question about marijuana saving the economy.

  22. 22

    First of all, there is no reliable evidence showing that marijuana is as bad as tobacco or alcohol in terms of health costs. In fact, it’s way down on the list of drugs that do harm in those terms.

    But there is one angle where legalizing, or at least decriminalizing, would make a big difference: the drug war now raging on our border with Mexico. As the administration has been saying for the last week, the US’s appetite for these drugs (a large chunk of which is Mexican weed) is fueling the war (as are our guns).

    Before Sarah Palin changed the Alaska law, a citizen there was allowed to grow as much weed as they wanted as long as it never left the property on which it was grown. This kind of decriminalization would increase domestic production of pot, and decrease the demand for the weed coming in from Mexican narco gangs.

    So, the dismissive way which Obama laughed off the question was, indeed, a big missed chance for him to say something substantive about the good things that could happen if we would refocus our resources on things that actually cause more harm, like alcohol, tobacco, meth, and blow.

    Plus, decriminalization would mean less people in prison for pot. The fact that we jail people for possessing even small amounts of weed is astounding to me. These are non-violent people enjoying a substance which has been proven to be less detrimental to the public health than tobacco or alcohol, and yet we put people in prison for it. I have severe arthritis and live in a state where I can’t even legally use it for pain, even if my Doctor thinks it would be better than the pharmaceuticals that have severely screwed me up in the past.

    This is a serious subject, and deserves to be treated that way. Laughing it off just shows me that our president is capable of ignoring important issues because he thinks the people who ask the questions are stoners.

  23. 23
    Davis X. Machina says:

    how can we as a society seriously base policy on the idea that 14% of Americans should be arrested & punished

    Drive 65 — or 70, depending on road and state — in the left hand lane of a local interstate and calculate the percentage of drivers passing you on the right who give you the finger.

    Betcha it’s more than 14%…

  24. 24
    Don says:

    Considering how many people are employed as a result of pot prohibition I suspect we’d see a net economic decline if we snapped our fingers and made it legal.

    I don’t think these are good jobs, or healthy for our country, or our dogs, but they’re jobs never the less. We spend a huge amount of money and employ a lot of people in the service of the war on some drugs.

  25. 25
    Comrade Stuck says:

    This is people who oppose Obama on issues for a variety of reasons, and Obama driving them crazy as bedbugs. They are focused in like so many circling buzzards, parsing every move and word while looking for any shred of weakness to feed upon.

    If you step back and do a little pop Freudian analysis, it wreaks of desperation and frustration. And each day brings a new meme to sling against the wall hoping for stick, and each day these people look sillier.

    Another on the meme watch is criticizing Obama’s leadership Style, whatever that means. You can read about it in the Economist and any number of wingnut blogs, unfortunately to include Mr. Joyner of OTB. A bunch of nattering nags who don’t like Obama’s policies and can’t really slam them because they are exactly what he promised as a candidate.

    The spending and debt is a legitimate worry that even many of Obama’s supporters are squeamish about, especially the bailouts. But none of them can offer any viable alternative, and since they are out of power, they don’t have to. So it goes.

    Next up. Is Obama overexposed?. Oh wait, that was done last week.

    This is without links. WP wouldn’t accept them.

  26. 26
    Will says:

    And this is why, in a nutshell, I hate being a Democrat. Thousands of people freeping a townhall suggesting marijuana legalization might be the economic cure got EXACTLY the response it deserved.

    The difference in Democratic stupidity is that the end result doesn’t end with millions of people in jail, prison or lynched. When the mildest craziness of the other side is advocating to prevent people who love each other to marry, husbands to let their brain dead relatives to go or women to not have to give birth to unwanted children, I feel pretty warm and fuzzy that my side’s radicals just don’t want to send their neighbors to fucking prison for using a drug that scientific study after scientific study says is much less harmful than alcohol and tobacco.

  27. 27
    Will says:

    Then perhaps we have a right to a serious marijuana legalization movement, and not one that consists of freeping a poll in favor of an idiotic question about marijuana saving the economy.

    Um. We’ve got that. Look up the the recent initiatives in California, Washington state, Mass. and elsewhere. It’s kind of hit the big time already, so it makes sense to start pushing D.C. to at least start acknowledging it.

  28. 28
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @Scott Supak:

    Which of several arguments are you trying to make? Legalization is not politically viable at present, ain’t gonna happen in the near term.

    Medical exceptions? All for it.

    As for Obama and the question, the question was whether legalization would be a good move for the economy. Only stoners could judge that this question was well timed or appropriate.

    Imagine a president facing the fights that this guy is facing, being asked to say that pot legalization is part of his economic strategy … so as to mix that argument with the hellish fight he is in for in the next year getting essential things done. Yeah, very helpful.

    i was a little too gentle in my first post, let me revise and extend my remarks: Fuck the stoners, their antics to get this question into this bubble, with all the crises facing this country right now, shows how stupid and pot-fried they are. Cheers to Obama for laughing them off.

  29. 29
    Will says:

    Drive 65—or 70, depending on road and state—in the left hand lane of a local interstate and calculate the percentage of drivers passing you on the right who give you the finger.

    I don’t remember when we started sending people to prison, seizing their property or firing them from jobs for speeding.

    Remember prison? The overcrowded hellholes where rape and murder are rampant? The ones that have more people in them than the prisons of China, Russia and Iran combined? The ones where nonviolent drug offenders are the largest segment of the inmate population? The ones where no one will hire you after you get out of them? Those?

    That’s kind of a different thing.

  30. 30
    The Moar You Know says:

    My wingnut family members expected me to be outraged over the Afghanistan move, and were doubly pissed that I wasn’t. I’ve explained to them at least twice a day since he was nominated that Obama was not by any stretch of the imagination a liberal; when they hit me with this last night I said it again.

    The response was "well he ran as one". I explained that no, he didn’t – that was a creation of their side and the news media.

    "Well, he allowed that perception to exist"

    Boy, the guy did everything but get behind the podium and scream at the top of his lungs, repeatedly, that he was not a liberal, and it wouldn’t have mattered to these folks if he had because he was a lying Negro with a Muslim name and that was the end of it for them, he was a liberal, shut up is why.

    They are now utterly baffled and enraged about this Afghanistan thing, and from how my pet family collection of wingnuts is trying to work the cognitive dissonance out (love war, love killing brown people, hate Negroes, hate Obama, hate Democrats) I will bet good soon-to-be-worthless American money that you will see a fairly vociferous right-wing antiwar movement appear very soon.

    Because they can’t let the darkie win what their guy failed at. I think that’s going to hold true for everything this administration has to deal with that Bush fucked up.

    They can’t let the darkie win where their guy failed.

    And to think some people thought electing Obama was the end of racial issues in America. The brutal truth is that now those racial conflicts are just really getting started.

  31. 31
    WyldPirate says:

    A lot of folks have echoed what I want to say on here already, but I will add this.

    The thing that disappoints me most about Obama’s entire attitude to MJ issue is his repeated statements–and I paraphrase–was that his administration would review programs that didn’t work and end them.

    There is no bigger example of a failed government program than the 80+ year-old "war" on illegal drugs. Even more ironic, was the statement by SoS Clinton on the same day where she publically stated what the root cause of the problems w/drug cartels in Mexico—that it is the market demand for mind-altering chemicals in America that is driving the violence.

    But what was Clinton’s proposed response—more money, guns and helicopters to escalate the violence–the same shit that we’ve done for eight decades. A continuation of the failed policies when the solution is staring you in the face–with the historical example of alcohol prohubition staring us in the face. It is f’ing lunacy.

    It’s like we are repeating the same fiscal anmd policy mistakes of the roaring 20s.

    Two quotes come to mind:

    "Those who can’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it."
    –George Santayana

    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”–Albert Einstein

  32. 32
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @John Cole:

    Dammit man, laughing at something just because it is funny is why America hates teh Liberal.

    The most important thing about any funny, offhand remark is, what message does it send? Specifically, what message does it let me send to advance my own agenda?

    Until you learn to control your laughter, you will never be a contender.

  33. 33
    The Moar You Know says:

    but is becoming increasingly politically dangerous as voters start to realize that the choice really is schools or prisons.

    @Will: In California we chose prisons, a long time ago. I believe by 1995 our prison system spending exceeded the total we spend on K-12, community, State, and UC systems combined.

    No one cared.

  34. 34
    Krista says:

    Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to see marijuana legalized and taxed and controlled just like alcohol. However, I agree with many others when I say that Obama has slightly more urgent items on his plate right now.

    Courage is one thing, foolhardiness is another. You already have an alarmingly high percentage of your populace who seriously think that he will destroy your society (and there is a small but frightening segment of that populace who would gladly see him dead).

    You have a right-wing (and their media accomplices) who are just salivating for him to make a big enough misstep that they can try to impeach him.

    Dude HAS to be cautious, if he wants to last in office more than a year.

    And if he is going to have any sort of chance to fix the huge problems you have (the war, the economy) — problems that will take several years to turn around — he can’t risk sacrificing that for the political fallout of reversing a law that while unjust, is in most cases rather easy to avoid breaking.

    Give him time — maybe if things are more settled in his second term (knock on wood), he’ll be able to make bigger steps on this. But for now, give the poor bastard some time to deal with the shit sandwich that Bush gave him, m’kay?

  35. 35

    Mos Def has it right last night on Bill Mahr like others have pointed out. Does anybody REALLY believe that President Obama who has been called a Socialist, Marxist, Leftist, Anti Christ, Islamist (and thats from Republican members of Congress) is going to get up in a town hall at a time when he is working feverishly to get his budget passed and say HEY IN RESPONSE TO AN INTERNET QUESTION I WANT TO ANNOUNCE THAT WE ARE LEGALIZING WEED!! You think Michele Bachmann is calling for a revolution now….sheeit.

    And its rich that the guys at Reason who help perpetrate some of these internet lies about President Obama are now mad because he isn’t rolling with their dumb ass. Because, yeah, I could TOTALLY see McCain legalizing weed.

    Reason can blow it out their ass!

  36. 36
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @WyldPirate:

    One quote comes to my mind:

    "People who try to jack the spotlight during a period of real crisis to stamp their feet about their own pet issues are buttheads and should be pied in the public square."

    From The Favorite Sayings of TheOfficialHatOnMyCat, (c) 2009

  37. 37

    By the way, didn’t Bill Mahr remind you of Paul Krugman last night with his blinders on to the political realities of talking about legalizing weed?

  38. 38
    Will says:

    @Will: In California we chose prisons, a long time ago. I believe by 1995 our prison system spending exceeded the total we spend on K-12, community, State, and UC systems combined.

    One of the very few benefits of widespread economic collapse is that it kinds of forces people to care. In my southern state, the current budget proposal eviscerates prison and law enforcement spending. Schools and highway construction also got hit, but the money is so tight that it’s really come down to a choice between closing prisons or schools. California’s political system is a special kind of crazy, but I suspect that it won’t take many instances of that kind of choice before voters start thinking long and hard about just how much they love being tough on crime.

    Same thing happened in the Depression. Prohibition just stopped seeming like that big a deal in the face of massive economic collapse. And for all the people talking about how things are turning the corner, my intuition says they are just as right as they were when those same people were saying we weren’t going to have any major economic problems a year or so ago.

  39. 39
    evie says:

    It actually depresses me that there has been so much insane furor over this topic on blogs I frequent. It makes me feel like the people I most closely align with are completely out of touch with reality. Aren’t we supposed to be the ones that live in a reality-based world? No politician is going to take on marijuana legalization, no matter how ridiculous the law is. And I’m perfectly fine with that if we get, for example, sane health care and equal rights for same sex partners (including marriage). The hierarchy of needs holds for marijuana as well, and it’s low on the totem pole.

    And remember, Obama DISAGREED with a Supreme Court decision saying the death penalty for child molesters was unconstitutional. I was horrified, but this is who he is — he is not going to get dragged into "social" issues that he can’t win, especially ones that can be labeled "soft on crime."

    btw — it’s so true that suddenly stoner jokes are not allowed! I got yelled at on a blog for appreciating a joke someone else made. Who knew?

  40. 40
    The Moar You Know says:

    i was a little too gentle in my first post, let me revise and extend my remarks: Fuck the stoners, their antics to get this question into this bubble, with all the crises facing this country right now, shows how stupid and pot-fried they are.

    @TheOfficialHatOnMyCat: As a proud former stoner, hopefully soon to be one again, let me just say this – I couldn’t agree with you more. We have some real bad fucking problems in this country and this is not one of them.

  41. 41
    jrg says:

    You may not like his position, may not think it is right, but if you thought he ran on a platform of marijuana legalization you are either stoned or just plain stupid.

    NORML is all over the news aren’t they? Getting in the news sounds like a pretty smart first step to me, regardless of what platform Obama ran on. It’s only a matter of time before pot is decriminalized. People just have to keep pushing to make it happen.

    Cindy Sheehan raising hell about Iraq didn’t change the fact the Iraq war is fraudulent. Reason Mag and Balco bitching about the drug war does not change the fact that the drug war is fraudulent.

    Obama knows all this. Consider the possibility that he wants this political pressure so that we can shift the dialogue away from the cultural issues that the right pushes.

  42. 42

    I didn’t appreciate the laughter, honestly. There’s a multi-billion dollar untaxed, unregulated and in some circumstances incredibly violent industry out there, and our own citizens are going to jail over basically nothing, and yet the issue is always treated as if it’s some sort of laugh-riot, because, you know, stoners! They’re hilarious! Until we catch them and ruin their lives at enormous taxpayer expense. Haha! Funny! Seth Rogan!

    I don’t have any expectations that legalization/decriminalization is on the Obama agenda, nor do I think it should be at the moment. I just wish someone in the government or media would be halfway serious about these questions when they come up.

    It’s not a fucking joke.

  43. 43
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    And from the campaign, one of the things I remember most is his daily proclamations that what he would do in Afghanistan — is now precisely what he is doing in Afghanistan.

  44. 44
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    I smoked, but I didn’t inhale.

    Okay, I didn’t exhale, but it’s almost the same thing.

  45. 45
    Will says:

    And I’m perfectly fine with that if we get, for example, sane health care and equal rights for same sex partners (including marriage). The hierarchy of needs holds for marijuana as well, and it’s low on the totem pole.

    Until we start locking up homosexuals by the millions for wanting to get married, I’m going to happily say that’s a lower priority. I’d also go so far to say that mj legalization is a lot easier sell in many parts of the country than gay marriage. The polls on decriminalization I’ve seen certainly support this.

    And this is why it’s dangerous to browbeat people for caring more about the issues that they care about than the ones you do. It’s a losing game for all concerned.

  46. 46
    The Moar You Know says:

    Let me also just throw this out there: there is already a stereotype, a bullshit stereotype but one that exists nonetheless, that minorities are the source of most drugs and the consumers of same.

    Doesn’t matter that I’ve never met a black stoner in my life, that is the stereotype.

    Obama is aware of this.

    He will not take any further steps to decriminalize or legalize marijuana, and this is one of the bigger reasons why.

    A white president is going to have to lead this effort. Sucks but it’s true.

  47. 47
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @Jeff Berardi:

    It’s not a fucking joke.

    Yeah, in that context, it was. And it was funny, which is why the room laughed.

    And its why this thread is right on target.

    What’s sad is that the stoner lobby insulted its own agenda by pushing that question into that forum.

    It’s the stoners who don’t take this seriously. If they did, they’d take a serious approach to its consideration.

  48. 48
    JD Rhoades says:

    In my day job, I’m a criminal lawyer. I can tell you right now that if my state (which is, like most states, in the middle of a budget crisis), wanted to really save money in the criminal justice system, they’d legalize pot and sell it in the liquor stores. We’d be having court two days a week instead of five, we could cut two whole squads out of the detective division (or at least combine some of them), to say nothing of the savings in court appointed attorney fees.

    Oh, and the probation department’s workload would be cut by at least a third. Which would mean they’d be merely overworked instead of insanely overworked.

  49. 49
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @Jeff Berardi:

    It’s not a fucking joke.

    The point of the joke was the suggestion that legalizing pot would help fix the economic crisis. Unless bankers and traders are big time potheads, or maybe aren’t and should be, then you build a strawman.

    And behind the scenes, there are many actions occurring to administratively change the focus from incarceration to treatment.

  50. 50
    The Moar You Know says:

    @Will: Just you wait. We here in California are going to commit financial suicide next year, and will likely bankrupt the state.

    I suspect we’re going to see massive school closures. And it won’t just be for one year.

  51. 51
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    I think most of the liberal disappointment with Obama comes from the notion that since he’s so smart, he’s bound to see things the same way as we smart liberals and share our same smart priorities. When in fact, he’s a cautious moderate still operating in a conservative paradigm.

  52. 52
    buford puser says:

    The idea that drug policy is a frivolous fringe issue that we can’t afford to waste attention on, given serious things like the wars and the economy, is itself the frivolous idea.
    We can’t afford attention to drug policy because of the wars in the central Asia? The enemy we are fighting in the war in Afghanistan is in large part financed by the opium trade, a business that is only lucrative because the international prohibition of opiates makes this a hugely valuable cash crop.
    Hillary Clinton spent this week decrying the violence of drug cartels in Mexico, violence financed by the economic subsidy to drug trafficking created by criminalization. Again, as in Afghanistan, easily produced, minimally processed, agricultural commodities become more valuable than gold through the alchemy of making them illegal.
    Domestically, governments at every level face drastic cuts in resources, yet continue to invest billions in a failed policy that seeks to imprison a substantial proportion of the population. In my home state, New York, the state correctional system is the second largest employer in the state; most of the penal system is devoted to fighting the failed war on drugs. Anyone with any knowledge of criminal justice will admit that most people go to prison because of something to do with drugs, even if that is not the offense they are charged with. 3% of Americans are in prison or otherwise under criminal justice supervision, another 2% work in law enforcement.
    Can we afford to continue wasting such a vast amount of resources on a policy that accomplishes little, enriches criminals, cause public health problems, and is rooted in hypocrisy?

  53. 53
    evie says:

    Will — I know lots and lots of people who smoke pot regularly and have never once been sent to jail. There are people who talk openly about smoking pot regularly (e.g., Maher) and yet, no one is bursting down their doors to send them to jail.

    How many married same sex couples do you know?

    Obviously, people go to jail on marijuana charges, which is absurd. But let’s not pretend that everyone who smokes feels remotely concerned with the law. They don’t.

  54. 54

    Decriminalize pot?
    Fucking A, I live in a dry county! You have to leave the county to buy alcohol!
    And people are outraged that Obama’s not ready to take on *pot*?
    With that said, I do agree with those advocating a serious look at the ridiculous way we treat our citizens.

  55. 55
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    it’s dangerous to browbeat people for caring more about the issues that they care about than the ones you do

    No it isn’t. Are you going to seriously suggest that in this particular period and climate, asserting that pot legalization is an important thing to do to help save the economy is sensible?

    Maybe the thread is still too genteel. Let me be clear: That is a stupid-all-the-way-to-the-bone idea, just jaw droppping stupid.

    There is a time and place for a reasonable legalization discussion. An economic crisis discusion is not that time and place.

    Issues are not important based on how fervently somebody wants to talk about them. They are more or less important depending on how more or less important they are.

    Legalization of pot does not advance to the level of hijacking the economic crisis to talk about it. Sorry.

  56. 56
    Will says:

    In my day job, I’m a criminal lawyer. I can tell you right now that if my state (which is, like most states, in the middle of a budget crisis), wanted to really save money in the criminal justice system, they’d legalize pot and sell it in the liquor stores. We’d be having court two days a week instead of five, we could cut two whole squads out of the detective division (or at least combine some of them), to say nothing of the savings in court appointed attorney fees.

    I got radicalized on this issue back when I was working as a journalist on the cop beat. Every other day, I’d go down to talk to the drug cops, who were mostly a nice bunch of guys, but seriously fucked up. They’d admit that some of the guys they busted weren’t dangerous, had serious mental problems or were just overall harmless losers. Then, they’d turn around and tell me how they were constantly trying to get the feds interested in the same guys because federal drug prison sentences were much longer.

    If most people realized just how fucking many people got arrested, lost their jobs and went to prison for no other reason than they got caught with pot, it might take the giggles out of their mouth. It’s a national tragedy and the fact that many people who claim to be liberals, much less centrists, don’t give a shit and are willing to lecture those who do on the political reality makes me sick.

    They don’t know the political reality. And if they do and still feel free to lecture about how this is a minor issue, I wouldn’t waste my piss on them if they were on fire.

  57. 57
    Krista says:

    Until we start locking up homosexuals by the millions for wanting to get married, I’m going to happily say that’s a lower priority.

    False analogy. Nobody gets locked up for wanting to do anything. And one could argue quite convincingly that being able to get married to the person you love should be a basic human right, particularly due to the ramifications WRT next-of-kin legal issues such as inheritance, medical care, custody of children etc. One can’t really make the same argument about smoking pot.

    I don’t think too many of us here are anti-pot. And I think the vast majority of us here would love to see it legalized. But right now is just NOT the time. The public will is increasing. It’s getting there. But right now, the vast majority of the public is worried about their jobs and their savings, not whether or not weed is legal.

    And The Moar also has an excellent point, which I was reluctant to bring up. The first black President legalizes weed? Seriously? The right-wingers would be soiling themselves with glee, and it would wind up being probably about 200 years before you ever again got a non-white, non-old-guy president. Like it or not, the first "exception" to anything always is under that much more scrutiny, and is used as a benchmark for all who come afterwards. Our first female Prime Minister was a trainwreck, and believe me, any subsequent woman who runs in our country for Prime Minister is going to have that particular lead weight solidly wrapped around her ankle.

    So, it brings it back to my original point. He has to be cautious, and he has to focus on the most urgent stuff first. To me, that’s just basic common sense.

  58. 58

    @The Moar You know

    Doesn’t matter that I’ve never met a black stoner in my life, that is the stereotype.

    WTF? Do you live in Idaho?
    Why the hell do you think it’s called The Chronic?
    Sweet Baby Jeebus but I’m confused on this one.

  59. 59
    John Cole says:

    @Corner Stone: No shit. And I thought I was the whitest person on the planet. Could someone please google “blunt?”

  60. 60

    @TheOfficialHatOnMyCat

    There is a time and place for a reasonable legalization discussion. An economic crisis discusion is not that time and place.

    This is the bullshit equivalence of saying, "Quiet Junior! The adults are talking!"
    Will should shut up because there are other things happening? Didn’t our President recently say he was capable of multi-tasking?
    If society isn’t forced to address an issue then it never will.
    /Great Society

  61. 61
    valdivia says:

    @sgwhiteinfla:

    i am with you. on both this post and the previous one.

  62. 62
    Warren Terra says:

    Support for decriminalization of marijuana is in my experience largely proportionate to education, and I suspect that Obama or at least a healthy proportion of his close advisors are fully aware and perhaps even agree with the arguments that decriminalization of marijuana would be a good thing.

    Nonetheless, two things are obvious: one, that as John pointed out Obama never hinted at decriminalizing marijuana; he did promise to tell the Justice Department to stop raiding legal marijuana clinics, and he did so.

    The other, as several people upthread have pointed out, is that Obama has to consider the costs involved. The man’s not the dictator, he’s the President, and to decriminalize marijuana he’d have to get both houses of Congress into line, in the teeth of an inevitable filibuster, and even if he somehow made it happen it would be at the expense of his ability to push other things through Congress, some of which are both easier to pass and more obviously pressing.

    If these drama queens bemoaning Obama’s unwillingness to pledge his Presidency to their cause want to get serious, they would start listing policy changes they’d like to see that Obama can achieve by executive action, not by legislation; and they’d get bills introduced in Congress. I mean, for heaven’s sake, these people are upset that he’s not backing unwritten legislation that has exactly zero declared Senators for it? Because they think that would work how, exactly?

  63. 63
    Will says:

    I know lots and lots of people who smoke pot regularly and have never once been sent to jail. There are people who talk openly about smoking pot regularly (e.g., Maher) and yet, no one is bursting down their doors to send them to jail.

    How many married same sex couples do you know?

    Obviously, people go to jail on marijuana charges, which is absurd. But let’s not pretend that everyone who smokes feels remotely concerned with the law. They don’t.

    Bullshit. Your friends don’t care about the law because they haven’t been caught. Let me tell you from someone who has seen the system work. They’d start caring a whole lot more if they go unlucky one day and caught a possession charge.

    They’d care a lot more if they happened to get caught with a little too much, or a little bit in two baggies or with a scale or a little too close to a school, because then they’d have a possession with intent to sell and their life as a productive citizen would effectively be over.

    Unless of course they were rich, a celebrity or politician, then we’d all laugh it off. If they were a nice middle class fellow, though, they’d have a real good chance of learning what it is like to be ostracized from society. Not many good jobs come from people with drug charges on their record.

  64. 64
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @Will:

    if ‘radicalized’ includes a complete loss of perspective, so that one’s favorite issue trumps everything else going on in the world, then ‘radical’ is just the right handle for it.

    Radicalization is generally accompanied by marginalization. For good reason.

    I applaud — loudly — the president’s dismissal of this PR stunt at his appearance the other day.

    Seeing him have that kind of common sense tells me that he is going to get the important things done that have to get done. Which is one of several reasons I voted for him.

  65. 65

    Here is what the "It’s not a fucking joke" crowd are either not realizing or not acknowledging.

    President Obama didn’t HAVE to address the question at all. I can just about guarantee you that his advisors told him not to. Which is probably why he brought the question up himself instead of waiting to see if the guy would ask it. When he did that President Obama fulfilled the promise to answer questions that got voted on really high. Now in the context of a town hall about getting the economy back on track and getting his budget passed HELL YES it was a joke. Maybe next time instead of trying to put him on the spot during such a contentious battle to get his priorities passed in Congress the people who are upset about how he handled it should instead sign a petition or something or fund a study to show the economic impact.

    Understand this, I WANT marijuana legalized for several different reasons. But to say "Its not a fucking joke" over how he handled this situation at this point in time in history, makes the person saying it a fucking joke in my opinion.

  66. 66

    @John Cole
    It’s really not even about slang. Has TMYK never heard of Ricky Williams or any professional NBA player?
    Also.

  67. 67
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    This is the bullshit equivalence of saying, "Quiet Junior! The adults are talking!"

    Half right. The second part is spot on. But it isn’t bullshit.

    It’s exactly why we voted in the right guy, and exactly why he shows us every day that he was the right choice.

    There’s a reason why you tell the noisy kids to be quiet: Because the adults have more important things to talk about. That’s why they are the adults, and the kids are the kids. That’s why we don’t elect kids to public office.

  68. 68

    @sgwhiteinfla

    really high

    Huh. You said "high". Huh huh.

  69. 69
    Will says:

    I would like to point out that there are two parallel issues here and we shouldn’t conflate them. Obama’s got valid reasons for not taking this on. It’s disappointing, but largely of a whole with a lot of my other disappointments with him. He’s a very cautious politician with the level of support that allowed less cautions politicians – Reagan, FDR, Teddy Roosevelt, LBJ, Shrub, etc. – to enact sweeping changes in the government.

    But that’s a separate issue from whether drug reform advocates have the right to ask questions about their "pet" issue in a public forum. There’s a lot of "shut up, stoner" going on here, which ignores the fact that a lot of serious people have developed a huge and legitimate set of issues with our drug policies and the way it shapes society. It’s led to a militarization and coarsening of our police force, imprisoned millions of citizens for nonviolent crimes, cost millions more employment due to widespread drug testing for even office clerical jobs, diverted billions and billions of funds to the war on drugs and led to the destabilization of entire nations.

    That’s actually pretty serious.

  70. 70
    Comrade Stuck says:

    The idea that drug policy is a frivolous fringe issue that we can’t afford to waste attention on, given serious things like the wars and the economy, is itself the frivolous idea.

    No one here is doing that. Most of us do believe it is an important issue that needs attention. We’ve had many threads in the past that show this.

    This particular thread is about an offhand remark that is being used by some to browbeat Obama into paying attention to their pet issue.

    It is OK to express desire for action, but if you use it as an example of Obama not caring about the issue, when he clearly does, then you will get er feedback. Like I said before, there are many actions going on we don’t always here about to mitigate the criminalization of Pot, directing law enforcement to steer more toward treatment and less jailtime.

    But the issue of official legalization is a powder keg politically and we are saying Obama’s plate is currently very full, is all. Maybe he will get around to taking it on, but I would guess and advise he do so in a second term. Meantime, real progress is being made in the legal trenches.

  71. 71
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    Just a marker here on the thread. This is the point at which it starts to become clear what the end game strategy is for the stoner lobby:

    1. "You people make me sick" and its variants.

    2. "Oh yeah, well fuck you too!" and its variants.

    3. "You don’t know suffering until you have been me and suffered …." and its variants.

    4. "You call yourselves liberals?" and its variants

    Remember, "Fuck you" only really works if you say it first.

  72. 72
    gwangung says:

    The idea that drug policy is a frivolous fringe issue that we can’t afford to waste attention on, given serious things like the wars and the economy, is itself the frivolous idea.

    The frivoulous idea is to expect a response from politicians to lead the debate. That’s idiotic. It’s an authoritarian mindset to to demand a top-down strategy to what should be a grass roots, bottom up solution.

    Kind of like the Republican approach to economics/pay and damn near everything else.

    How did Obama succeed? Top down or bottom up? And where is legalization right now?

  73. 73
    Will says:

    There’s a reason why you tell the noisy kids to be quiet: Because the adults have more important things to talk about. That’s why they are the adults, and the kids are the kids. That’s why we don’t elect kids to public office.

    Yeah. We elect serious statesmen like GWB.

    There’s very little relation between what’s "serious" and what’s acceptable to talk about in American politics. I happen to find imprisonment and financial ruin of millions of citizens, destabilization of neighboring countries and the diversion of billions of dollars to anti-drug programs to be worrisome, but that’s just because I’m a silly stoner.

  74. 74

    @TOCOMH
    I’m not arguing Obama should take this fight on. I’m arguing that Will and others should keep being pissed about their issue and keep putting pressure on when they can, and how they can.
    It’s bullshit to me to tell someone who’s life has been ruined, or could be ruined, that they should STFU and acquiesce to some greater authority because he/she knows what they are doing and is an "adult".
    BTW, you’re line of reasoning makes me think immediately of High Broderism and the BS calls for "seriousness".
    Really Serious People Suggest Obama Was Right To Laugh.
    Fuck that.

  75. 75
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    We elect serious statesmen like GWB.

    We? I didn’t vote for him.

    Did you?

    Maybe you should go talk to those people?

  76. 76
    buford puser says:

    Gosh, more stupid, frivolous kids, talking out of turn about stupid things like criminal justice and the failed war on drugs: whiny baby Glenn Greenwald discussing dirty hippie Jim Webb’s new push to reform our criminal justice system.

  77. 77
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    keep putting pressure on when they can, and how they can.

    Well duh, that is the whole point of the thread. That’s exactly why people everywhere are laughing at the stoner PR stunt of getting their question onto a stage where it didn’t belong.

    That’s exactly the point of my post at 46. If you really take the issue seriously, then you will seek serious and appropriate avenues for it. You won’t make childish outbursts like the one blockquoted above.

  78. 78
    Will says:

    The frivoulous idea is to expect a response from politicians to lead the debate. That’s idiotic. It’s an authoritarian mindset to to demand a top-down strategy to what should be a grass roots, bottom up solution.

    Kind of like the Republican approach to economics/pay and damn near everything else.

    How did Obama succeed? Top down or bottom up? And where is legalization right now?

    That’s kind of the point. There’s a tremendous amount of outrage here because the anti-drug folks managed to sully Obama by making him answer the question and expecting him to do so in a serious manner.

    Folks from the bottom pushed up a potentially embarrassing question and now folks here are in a dither because the silly stoners had the temerity to think their issues were worth addressing in these serious times. Hell, the cat in the hat dude’s panties are in such a twist that their cutting off the oxygen to his brain.

    That’s how you move an issue. Code Pink upset people, but they made the political space for the discussion to move on from "gays are icky" to a debate about gay marriage. If drug reformers can move the debate from "druggies are as bad as pedophiles" to a serious debate on the nation’s drug policies, then they’re actually doing everyone a favor.

  79. 79
    thrashbluegrass says:

    There is a Harvard study from 2005, claiming a savings of $7.7 billion in law-enforcement costs, and a $2.4 billion revenue windfall, which changes to $6.4 billion if tobacco- and liquor-style sin taxes were put in place.

    Both of these numbers, of course, are summed over both state and federal governments.

  80. 80
    gwangung says:

    I’m not arguing Obama should take this fight on. I’m arguing that Will and others should keep being pissed about their issue and keep putting pressure on when they can, and how they can.

    I’d argue that where they should be doing it is on the local and regional level. It’s not going to get done if there isn’t already sufficient numbers of state that’s legalized pot.

  81. 81
    Will says:

    I think the Afghanistan correlation is correct, and applies to the left as well as the right. Progressives who feel for some reason "betrayed" by Obama’s Afghan policy have just not been paying attention–to Obama, or for that matter, John Kerry. Hasn’t the position of the Democratic Party every since the Iraq War was launched that it was a crippling distraction from the real war we needed to be fighting and winning in Afghanistan? Remember all that yammering about losing Tora Bora during the 2004 election? Were Democrats (and many progressive columnists) just making that shit up about Afghanistan to look tough, or did they really mean it? It’s clear Obama meant it.

    The Viet Cong did not shelter and support a militant group that launched attacks on American soil. Neither did Saddam Hussein. But the Taliban DID. And they’re back on the rise in Afghanistan. I can’t see why genuine liberals don’t see the importance of–at the very least–preventing another attack from the very same theocrats who produced the last one. That’s not neoconservative ideology, that’s Realism.

  82. 82
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    Really Serious sensible People Suggest Obama Was Right To Laugh.

    The devil is in the details.

    If you are really serious, then you can learn to be sensible.

    Or, not, and just continue to be shrugged off.

    This is a teaching moment, dude, and you aren’t learning.

  83. 83
    wasabi gasp says:

    I hope all his joints canoe.

  84. 84
    Perry Como says:

    I hear people throw out the “legalize it and tax it” stuff, but I don’t know of any studies that break the numbers down (if there are some, I would love to see them).

    Wacky weed is the largest cash crop in the US the last time I checked. It won’t "solve" the financial issues we have, but it is a massive source of untapped tax revenue.

    /doesn’t enjoy the MJ

  85. 85
    gwangung says:

    Folks from the bottom pushed up a potentially embarrassing question and now folks here are in a dither because the silly stoners had the temerity to think their issues were worth addressing in these serious times.

    The stoners WERE silly to try it from a top down approach. Frankly, they don’t have a strong enough base–that’s what makes it silly, not whether it’s a "serious" issue or not.

  86. 86
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @buford puser:

    Bzzt. Out of bounds. War on drugs? We are expanding the context into the entire war on drugs?

    The tiny respectability the stoner argument had just went down the crapper.

    The WOD is another serious matter which deserves better than the foot stomping representation it is getting in here. But be that as it may, don’t tie a cement block around the neck of your pot position and then throw it in the river.

  87. 87
    Maude says:

    The problem I had with the online potters was that they sounded like Rush Limbaugh when they didn’t get their way. Maybe they should have hooked up with Rush.
    I don’t remember Bill Clinton being hounded to let other people have the right to legally inhale.
    This issue is about timing. If Obama tried to get anything through congress to decriminalize any illegal drug, his credibility would be shot.
    It’s not going to happen now.
    I do think pot use shouldn’t be a crime.
    With all that’s going on, how arrogant to make a public demand of the President. Oh, and then have a hissy fit because they didn’t get their way.
    The drug issues belong in the health care debates.
    A tad of progress, like medical use, is going a lot farther than Bush went on this.
    Oh, and Hillary was making a Rambo statement in Mexico. Can sniper fire be coming back to a tv near us?
    John, I used to be registered Republican for a local race. I went over to unaffiliated.

  88. 88

    Here is why Obama WAS right to make it into a joke

    If President Obama were to come out in anyway serious in addressing that question guess what we all would be talking about today? How fucked up it is that all the MSM is now calling Obama a stoner and bringing up his past pot use. How crazy it is that all the Sunday shows are now going to be debating legalizing cocaine and crack because surely if President Obama is going to take marijuana legalization obviously he wants to legalize meth too. And we would be hearing all kinds of shit about how he is doing too much trying to take on marijuana legalization at a time of financial crisis and two wars and when he is trying to destroy America with his librul budget and he is giving away all our cash to the Wall Streeters whilst being a communist.

    If President Obama has said anything resembling "We will examine that and get back to you" thats literally what would have been the reaction by the MSM and the wingnut blogs. Now if you really want legalization of marijuana then I would think you woldn’t want the fight to happen now when it has ZERO chances of passing. Its kinda like the fight over EFCA. Whoever thought it was a good idea to try to get that legislation passed now should have their ass kicked. And anybody who thinks that legalizing weed is a winning proposal right now should have their ass kicked too.

    Figuratively of course but you get my picture.

    Timing is everything and the truth is if people hold their powder until after the budget is passed THEN use the drug wars in Mexico to help make the case for legalization THEN we would have a much better chance of at least getting a fair hearing. Not during a fight over the budget and not when the focus is on big deficits and big spending. And not at a time when Republicans are flailing around trying to attack President Obama and so far he has successfully smacked them away. If you give a damn about more than just smoking weed, ie in universal healthcare, education funding and green energy then you would realize that he HAD to handle it the way he did. But if your whole focus is getting zooted then I guess none of the other shit he is fighting for really matters to you does it?

  89. 89
    Will says:

    This is a teaching moment, dude, and you aren’t learning.

    You know one of my frustrations with blogs. It’s Dungeons and Dragons for political junkies. It makes people pretend that THEY are politicians facing the pressures of office and they must act sensibly to placate all the various interest groups and members of the public so that they can enact legislation.

    You aren’t a politician. You are a dude on a blog. Hell, you aren’t even that. You’re a guy in a comments thread.

    If you believe something, advocate for it. If you don’t, don’t. You aren’t Obama and you don’t have to cover for him. He’ll do fine by himself and may even appreciate it if people advocate for what they want instead of play-acting as "the sensible realist politician" that he has to be.

  90. 90

    I got radicalized on this issue back when I was working as a journalist on the cop beat. Every other day, I’d go down to talk to the drug cops, who were mostly a nice bunch of guys, but seriously fucked up. They’d admit that some of the guys they busted weren’t dangerous, had serious mental problems or were just overall harmless losers. Then, they’d turn around and tell me how they were constantly trying to get the feds interested in the same guys because federal drug prison sentences were much longer.

    From an outside perspective, that’s fucked up. From theirs, it’s smart. The drug cops get credit for "taking drug dealers off the street", they never have to go to court because the feds took the case, the department gets more funding (including big $$$ from seizures), the drug cops’ bosses are happy, they get promoted so they get enough of a raise to maybe take that vacation at the beach that the family didn’t get last year because little Jordan needed new braces and a Detective Third’s salary sucks, and they get a better pension if they retire at the end of their twenty. Yeah. most of them, like most cops, are nice guys. But from the bottom to the top, money drives the drug war. And it’s the system that’s fucked up.

  91. 91

    @jackass
    Man, fuck you. I don’t come here to be "serious", or to be taken "seriously". WTF is wrong with you?
    This is like someone telling me they’re going to kick my ass. Yes, yes you will. I agree you’re much more of a badass than I am, or ever will be. Let me buy you another drink and we’ll call it square.
    Serious and sensible in the same sentence? The subtitle of this here blog is "Consistently wrong since 2002".
    Please don’t make paeans to "seriousness".
    I mean, c’mon.

  92. 92
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    Herald, save thou thy labour;
    Come thou no more for ransom, gentle herald:
    They shall have none, I swear, but these my joints;
    Which if they have as I will leave ’em them,
    Shall yield them little, tell the constable.

    Even Shakespeare knew that a few shorties were not really worth arguing about.

  93. 93
    Cerberus says:

    On the issue. Yes, legalization must eventually happen. Yes, if Obama was to work on the issue, it’d tackle a rather large cudgel used against the Black community to try and build the myth of the "criminal class". Yes, the science backs it and it probably would have minor economic impact, though more on the deficit than as a stimulus. Yes, the very groups against it are mostly dead, the culture war it represented mostly forgotten by younger voters who don’t care.

    However, Obama won’t and can’t fight for it. Why? Because the remaining culture warriors are in the media and the conservative democrats are also looking for any excuse to cut and run to the Republicans for a massive short-term gain in donations from Corporate America. This would spend all of his capital and it would be spun as a lazy n-r supporting "criminals" as all of the racists have most of their eggs in the Drug War basket.

    And frankly, I wouldn’t want him to put any effort on this front yet. There are way too many more important crucial structural changes he needs to make while people are open to them. I’d rather see a Universal Healthcare, a return to the Rule of Law, environmental reform and transportation infrastructure, and massive corporate regulation and taxation be the places he spends his capital rather than going all in on the third rail.

    Besides, he could do far more to prop up the issue by slowly starving the DEA or simply forcing DEA officials to apply the law equally between classes. If a few rich Republicans or media moguls suddenly found the DEA busting their doors down over the inconsequential meth and hooker rings they run, you’d suddenly see a lot more push and acceptance for sane drug regulation. Saying pot will save the economy would only increase the resistance.

  94. 94
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    You are a dude on a blog. Hell, you aren’t even that. You’re a guy in a comments thread.

    Oh shit, man, you are writing spoofable funny stuff now.

    Go man go.

    A dude on a blog? No, say it ain’t so!

    Cruel, cruel fate.

  95. 95
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    He’ll do fine by himself

    No shit? That’s why I gave $4k to his campaign, you stupid asshole.

    And he ain’t here, and you are writing these straight lines, and somebody has to respond, and I’m all you got. I am sorry about that, honestly, I tried to get you Professor Irwin Corey, but all I get is his answering machine.

  96. 96

    You know one of my frustrations with blogs. It’s Dungeons and Dragons for political junkies. It makes people pretend that THEY are politicians facing the pressures of office and they must act sensibly to placate all the various interest groups and members of the public so that they can enact legislation.

    I am totally stealing that.

  97. 97
    Libby says:

    I’m a drug policy reformer from way back and nobody serious about the subject is or was expecting Obama to legalize pot. What was insulting by his remark and this post actually, is the assumption that policy reformers are bunch of stoners. A whole lot of us don’t do even do drugs. Our concern is the waste of tax dollars and the social impact which is broad.

    We spend, by the most conservative estimates, $44 billion tax dollars a year on the drug war. A legalized marijuana industry could generate $33 billion in revenue. Hardly chump change.

    You want studies? Empirical proof. I suggest you start with Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

  98. 98
    buford puser says:

    I’m not expanding the issue to the whole war on drugs. The war on drugs is mostly the war on cannabis. This is because use of other illegal drugs is comparatively rare: almost all illegal drug use is cannabis use.
    Again, the overall issue is Obama’s frivolous response to what he clearly knows is a deadly serious economic, foreign policy, and governmental issue. He can do this (and be applauded by all the serious folks here for doing so) only because we as a society have decided to that our drug laws are a joke, despite the billions wasted on this failed policy.
    Obama wasn’t doing cannabis advocates a favor by taking the question; in every online issues forum Obama has held, cannabis issues have ranked in the top 5 questions. He’s always ignored them. He has now taken a question that he can laugh off because it can be framed as silly stoners think their herb will save the economy, since he can’t ignore these issues forever.

  99. 99
    ezsmirkzz says:

    I thought the whole thing was about defining a problem, evolving a solution, and putting the public support for the reform of marijuana laws into policy positions that not only make sense, but might actually work to address the problem defined.

    It’s not surprising to me that some fingers are getting cut off in the making of the sausage. It is my experience not to assume anything about anyone’s position, whether it is the Presidents or the commentary on his position on any given issue.

    Obama and the US Congress will only change the federal policy when they are compelled to do so by popular opinion, and then that popular opinion will have to change the positions of their respective Governors and State Legislators after that.

    The most substantial point of the process has already occurred, it is now a national debate. Fork the lightening if you’ve got the balls to, but don’t expect the thunder to follow the path of the bolt.

  100. 100
    Will says:

    No shit? That’s why I gave $4k to his campaign, you stupid asshole.

    Is that the political junkie equivalent of telling everybody that you drive a Porsche?

  101. 101
    Cerberus says:

    @sgwhiteinfla:

    Actually this is the perfect time for EFCA. We need sane labor laws in this country and for the first time in a good many decades people hate management not only in the streets, but in a large amount of the media as well. The blowback is far less powerful than it would have been even 2 years ago and will probably pass.

    The drugs issue isn’t at the right time. People see it as unconnected to anything because the War on Drugs is seen as a war and we still believe wars are free and unconnected to anyone you know (at least in the media classes and a large segment of the middle class population). I’d rather see a behind-the-scenes push for equal treatment of drug offenders by class or a simple starve-the-government trick used against the DEA or DHS. Now, that issue could well change in a couple of years or even quite rapidly, but there’s not enough set-up for it to be remotely viable.

  102. 102

    Several reactions to this post:

    1. The question that was asked in the online forum was not about marijuana legalization saving the economy. It was much more nuanced than that. Obama re-worded and thus answered a question that hadn’t been asked.

    2. Of course, Obama doesn’t support legalization. I don’t think there were really any people who expected him to say yes. At best, they wanted a real honest dialogue at the national level. Not a dismissive answer-without-answering. Obama has said over and over that he would look at policies that don’t work and get rid of them and that he’d listen to science. That’s all that marijuana legalization advocates are asking for.

    3. Freeping the poll. Isn’t all political activity a kind of freeping? Every interest group gets their people to write Congress, write the President, protest City Hall, etc. Every interest group in the country had the opportunity to get their members to ask questions at this online opportunity, and only the stoners were motivated enough to do so? Doesn’t that say something in itself?

    4. The joke. Of course pot humor is funny (notice I said "stoner" in #3). It’s even funny if the President says it. We’d love for him to give pot jokes and we wouldn’t mind being the brunt of them. But only if he’s also willing to talk seriously about the issues. A pot joke used to pretend that an issue isn’t worth discussing isn’t a joke.

    5. Legalization vs. decriminalization. We need a better discussion about these terms. I don’t understand how you can possible believe that decrim is better for social benefits than legalization. Most decrim options leave the black market intact, which is where all the real harm comes from. Legalization doesn’t mean anarchy – it also means regulation and control.

  103. 103
    Libby says:

    On effects of decrim. Glenzilla, will be giving a presentation at Cato next week about Portugal’s experience. From his post on the subject

    "Evaluating the policy strictly from an empirical perspective, decriminalization has been an unquestionable success, leading to improvements in virtually every relevant category and enabling Portugal to manage drug-related problems (and drug usage rates) far better than most Western nations that continue to treat adult drug consumption as a criminal offense.

    As a consensus in that country now recognizes, decriminalization is what enabled them to manage drug-related problems far more effectively than ever before, and the nightmare scenarios warned of by decriminalization opponents have, quite plainly, never materialized."

  104. 104
    Will says:

    Again, the overall issue is Obama’s frivolous response to what he clearly knows is a deadly serious economic, foreign policy, and governmental issue. He can do this (and be applauded by all the serious folks here for doing so) only because we as a society have decided to that our drug laws are a joke, despite the billions wasted on this failed policy.

    I think this is the heart of my frustration on this issue. Obama has repeatedly avoided having a serious discussion on the nation’s drug policies. He owns them now and needs to articulate what he believes in a comprehensive way.

    That doesn’t mean saying "legalize it, mon." That means sitting down, as he has with so many other issues, and saying what his thinking is on the current federal policies and the ways in which we should change course or maintain continuity. I may disagree with him, but at least I have a stance to disagree with. On this issue, he’s really trying to be all things to all people and it is frustrating.

  105. 105
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    @Will:

    No, not really, just a Honda Civic. But more to the point, it’s not the ‘equivalent’ of anything. It’s just a simple statement that I don’t need any lectures from you about how well Obama can do, I already have a pretty good sense of that.

    That’s why noticing that he turned your stoner PR stunt into a joke the other day was a way smart move on his part, and why you look like a silly fool.

    Like I said, you aren’t learning.

    You know one of my frustrations with blogs.

    I think it’s that you couldn’t win an argument if your life depended on it. Mind you, you are talking to a person who supports legalization of marijuana, and you have chosen to get yourself into a pissing contest with me. Have you considered a career in politics? Maybe, unlike me, you can be more than just a dude on a blog.

  106. 106

    @will
    I think it means he has a big swinging dick. And is quite possibly the CEO for a large bank. Get a rope!

  107. 107

    Cerebus

    You are talking about the practicality of EFCA of which I agree with you on. I am talking about the poltical realities of trying to get EFCA passed right now. In the middle of a recession when you already know business and their Congressional allies are going to be pushing back hard on EFCA with the excuse that it will hurt jobs is NOT the time to make this push and in the middle off the budget battle just doesn’t make any sense. Had they held their water until after the budget gets passed then they would have had more political cover then it would have made sense. But you have to know that the blue dogs in the House and the ConservaDems in the Senate would run for the hills if this got introduced in the middle of this budget war when they are trying to burnish their conservative cred.

    Would it help workers and the economy? Absolutely. Did it have a chance in hell of passing right now? Absolutely not. As we are seeing evidence of everyday.

  108. 108

    @Libby
    That’s all well and good but Glenzilla is a potter, and therefore deeply unserious and not to be trusted.

  109. 109

    @TOCOMH
    Hey! I have a 2008 CR-V and I love it. I do have to say I don’t like the fact that the door locks don’t engage on startup, and I hate the positioning of the seatbelt clips.
    Otherwise, 25.5 MPH in serious city traffic bitchez!

  110. 110
    Will says:

    That’s why noticing that he turned your stoner PR stunt into a joke the other day was a way smart move on his part, and why you look like a silly fool.

    I didn’t ask the question. Of course, I was probably being silly that day in some other way, so I’ll take the blame.

    I do like your style though. I can’t win the argument, because:

    1. You already agree with me

    2. I started it after you said "fuck you" and the person who says "fuck you first" wins

    3. You’ve got the bigger donations

    4. because I’m a moran.

    That’s like ninja-level stuff.

  111. 111
    Cerberus says:

    I think those of us who favor eventual drug legalization, even rapid drug legalization are missing one big thing, which is Obama is black. Yes, this shouldn’t matter, but it does mean that the media is watching for any evidence that he does something "black" or for the black community or otherwise reveal that he’s in the secret cabal that hates whitey. All of the dog whistles are looking for a perch and attacking drug laws would be that exact perch. He’s not settled enough to do things that are even remotely in the best interest of the black community until the vast majorities of whites are so invested in his help whitey programs that they don’t mind if he helps the darkies as well.

    He’s been doing a lot of that lately, quietly helping black communities while speaking mainly to shared or white interests and I expect him to do the same with issues like these that are closer to the rail.

  112. 112
    patrick says:

    I was browsing quickly and misread your headline as "Stoned or Just Palin Stupid?"

    Was that wrong?

  113. 113
    Libby says:

    I see Pete Giuther arrived. Legalization is the best option, of course. One that’s supported, as Booman pointed out, by 40% of Americans. So why assume the poll was freeped by all that much?

    By the way, this is about the same % that support making abortion illegal. You see any politician making jokes about their mental capacity?

    Nobody minds a joke in good fun. But the implication that anyone interested in the issue IS a joke, and that the issue itself doesn’t deserve serious consideration, is offensive to the "serious" people, like economists and the 3 former Latin American leaders that just addressed the UN asking for a change to a more sane policy, just for starters.

  114. 114
    John Cole says:

    The earnestness and the “it’s not funny” and “we deserve better” comments on this thread is what makes me want to punch people I agree with on issues in the neck. I’m not sure if most of you all are aware of it, but I have been railing against the larger War on Drugs for years, am well aware that we have stupid and destructive policies, and in the case of marijuana would support decriminalization and legalization of the damned thing.

    Yet, still, the incessant panty-knotting makes me want to throw up. It just never stops. Ever. Look at me, I’m offended! The squeaky wheel gets the grease! OMG, WHY DIDN”T HE DO EXACTLY WHAT I WANT ON MY CAUSE RIGHT NOW! POT SMOKERS DESERVE BETTER.

    Maybe it is the authoritarian in me, or maybe I just have a better grasp on what is plausible politically right now, but I am just sick of the undercutting of the man by people who are allegedly supposed to be supportive of his wider policy aims. Every one here claims they understood he would not legalize marijuana when he came into office, but then turns around and gets a massive case of sand in the va-jay-jay because he made a joke ABOUT NOT LEGALIZING MARIJUANA FOR ECONOMIC REASONS. But screw it. McCain and Hillary would have been so much better. They would have been real progressives on the issue.

    Sick of this party. As misguided as the Republicans are on policy, at least they can shut up every now and then and manage to get something passed. We’re too busy fighting over the teat to get any milk.

  115. 115
    Wisdom says:

    when he proposed a serious plan

    Serious plans. Serious people.

    Like Richard Holbrook. A man like this will fix Afghanistan and Pakistan just like he did AIG as a board member and Lehman as a director.

    The bigger you screw up, the more serious you are.

  116. 116
    WyldPirate says:

    Damn, TOMCOH, the more I read of your chickenshit opinions, the more I realize TOMCOH is an an acronym for a dickhead, too.

    Just who the fuck are you to criticize the "stoners" actions and response to Obama? They are entitled to their opinions as are you. The was the point of the "dude on a blog" comments.

  117. 117
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    That means sitting down, as he has with so many other issues, and saying what his thinking is on the current federal policies and the ways in which we should change course or maintain continuity.

    Yeah, that’s right, in the grand tradition of American presidents, he should "sit down" and give an opinion on all the current federal policies.

    In fact I think they even have a special chair just for that.

    Unbelievable that anyone could write such asinine crap with a straight face, mister Dude on a Blog. Really. Are you just fucking with us now?

  118. 118
    John Cole says:

    Also, Obama hates gay people because he invited Rick Warren to his inauguration.

    Fucking idiots.

  119. 119
    Will says:

    Sick of this party. As misguided as the Republicans are on policy, at least they can shut up every now and then and manage to get something passed. We’re too busy fighting over the teat to get any milk.

    I think the fact that Republicans all got together, shut up and drove the country in a ditch argues against this point. Lots of debate – even when some of the debates makes the grannies nervous – is actually good for a country and a party.

  120. 120

    @John Cole

    Maybe it is the authoritarian in me

    It is. Simple Answers To Unasked Questions.

  121. 121
    Cerberus says:

    @sgwhiteinfla:

    Again, no. This is the perfect political climate, because people want to PUNISH management and the push-back has been laughable considering how it would have been in years back (aka unions equal evil, blah blah blah). Heck, just look at how the debate has faired compared to the auto industry bailout. People are angry enough at bankers and the like that the political will is more pro-union than it’s been in awhile. If you think that this is "it going poorly", I’d welcome you to remember the vast support against unions that occurred during the auto bailout. It’s more not less supported because of the recession.

  122. 122
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    Just who the fuck are you to criticize the "stoners" actions and response to Obama?

    Why, I’m a dude on a blog, just like you.

    Or at least, a persona on a blog. I have no gender.

    I’m just a nameless faceless genderless voice on a blog.

    Just a ghost, in a sense. A figment.

  123. 123

    Also, Obama hates gay people because he invited Rick Warren to his inauguration.

    Doesn’t everyone? They are teh ick afterall.

  124. 124
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @John Cole:

    Sick of this party.

    If you ain’t sick of the Democratic Party, then you ain’t a real democrat.

    If somebody hasn’t already said that, they have now.

  125. 125
    Will says:

    Also, Obama hates gay people because he invited Rick Warren to his inauguration.

    Fucking idiots.

    Here’s the thing about this.

    If you care enough about an issue to believe it should move the political direction of the country, you should actually care about it. Would you respect someone in real life who, when they felt insulted, shuffled their feet, laughed and said "Good one, sir"?

    I also think you are forgetting a bit about your former party. I don’t remember too many anti-abortion types letting loose and cracking dead baby jokes. They get respect from their end because they take things deadly seriously and cause real, lasting pain to supporters who try to shank them for moderate votes.

  126. 126

    OT – Also, for those who have never heard Apocalyptica – please teh google it. Absolutely seven kinds of awesome in an 8 devils of Kimone kind of way.

    ETA – Jubei!

  127. 127
    Bootlegger says:

    I just got here and my search feature says the word "hemp" doesn’t appear above so if this has been said, sorry.

    I agree with JC that it is unlikely that legalizing and taxing the recreational consumption of marijuana is probably not much of an economic stimulator. There are legal and justice issues for why it should be decriminalized and this would also allow us to shift some resources to other law enforcement.

    I do believe, however, that the commercial production of hemp could prove to be a surprisingly large boost to local economies. It can be grown almost anywhere, particularly places unsuited for other cultivation. It takes little water or chemicals to grow. Best of all it has several current end-market uses including food, paper and clothing, and has the potential to be an excellent option for biofuel. Several states are already pushing ahead with plans to legalize it and test the federal government, including my own Kentucky.

    This is one of those incremental steps Obama likes and the potheads like myself should pursue this along with decriminalization as realistic policy goals.

    It also fits Jim Webb’s call for prison and drug war reform.

  128. 128
    Libby says:

    Now that I’ve vented all that, my last word is I don’t expect Obama to push for legalization. I understand the political impossibility of taking on the issue, especially now with his already pushing for an ambitious agenda.

    But neither is the issue entirely divorced from security concerns and foreign policy concerns. Mark my words, that escalating the military presence on the Mexican border to "fight drugs" is going to make the violence worse. A case made very well by Jeff Miron. And the drug issue is also inextricably connected to Afghan policy. Heroin is financing the extremists. Dismantling the black market via total drug legalization and simply buying up the poppies from the peasant farmers there is NOT a crazy idea. Unorthodox perhaps, but a solution that has the most chance of working of anything else I’ve seen proposed.

  129. 129
    TheOfficialHatOnMyCat says:

    Sick of this party. As misguided as the Republicans are on policy, at least they can shut up every now and then and manage to get something passed. We’re too busy fighting over the teat to get any milk.

    It’s a tough choice. Gang of argumentive pissants …… or echo chamber?

    Pissants, echoes?

    Pissants, echoes?

    Disagreement, agreement?

    Change, status quo?

    Barbara Streisand, Phyllis Schafly?

    Okay, that last one is tough. Sorry.

  130. 130
    Will says:

    I do believe, however, that the commercial production of hemp could prove to be a surprisingly large boost to local economies. It can be grown almost anywhere, particularly places unsuited for other cultivation. It takes little water or chemicals to grow. Best of all it has several current end-market uses including food, paper and clothing, and has the potential to be an excellent option for biofuel. Several states are already pushing ahead with plans to legalize it and test the federal government, including my own Kentucky.

    I’m actually not for the widespread cultivation of hemp. As a crop, it leaches the soil of nutrients and uses a massive amount of water. A field that has grown hemp needs serious rehab in order to grow food crops and water shortage issues are already set to become on of the major 21st century social problems, even in the U.S.

  131. 131
    Cerberus says:

    @John Cole:

    Well yeah, the progressive movement is a vast coalition of a variety of issues loosely connected by shared views on human rights, but with few easy answers, the detriment of fighting against a status quo rather than to uphold it and a strong anti-authoritarian shared identity.

    Aka, it’s impossible to enforce message discipline and as such the "annoying" activists both on the center-left and far-left aren’t annoying in their continual spamming of talking points, but in completely different fashions often leading to loud debate as center-left groups often ignore the connections between oppressions and far-left people get caught too much in the overall goal of Overton window shifting and activism to respect political necessity.

    Aka, this thread.

  132. 132

    I honestly don’t remember a time when people of both sides of the aisle projected their own beliefs so heavily on a guy and then felt betrayed or surprised when he didn’t behave according to those beliefs.

    True. No need to fiddle with ink blots, just hold up a picture of a black guy and listen to the patient ramble.

    "I see … I see a Muslim Commie who promised to legalize pot!"

  133. 133
    Libby says:

    @Bootlegger: Really good point Bootlegger. That industrial hemp has been conflated with cannabis consumption is one of the worst offenses of the prohibitionists. There’s no earthly reason for hemp to be illegal. It would generate a lot of revenue and could save small farmers, who are ready, willing and able to enter that marketplace along with most of the rest of the world where it’s already legal.

    I’d also mention it’s the most enviromentally friendly crop on earth. It doesn’t require vast amounts of chemical fertilizers or herbicides to thrive.

  134. 134
    Will says:

    Dismantling the black market via total drug legalization and simply buying up the poppies from the peasant farmers there is NOT a crazy idea. Unorthodox perhaps, but a solution that has the most chance of working of anything else I’ve seen proposed.

    You don’t even need to legalize heroin. There a ton of legitimate medical uses for the poppies and a critical shortage of cheap pain medications in the Third World. There have already been movements to try to create a legitimate pharmaceutical industry either in the region or using products from the region, but the moves have been opposed by France and the U.S., which have massive existing pharma manufacturers.

    I’m not totally against legalizing heroin, though. There have been several promising studies – the Liverpool experiments and the recent Swiss attempts – that show that heroin addiction can be managed with treatment that gives addicts a low, non-psychoactive dose to eliminate the physical addiction.

    Heroin is actually less addictive than methadone – which is the current treatment – but the policy requires long-term, maybe life-long, supplies. That’s politically risky, even though the results have been remarkable in terms of reducing homelessness, allowing users to develop stable lives and cutting them off from criminal activities and the criminal world.

  135. 135
    Libby says:

    @Will: I don’t think that’s true. You got a link for that?

  136. 136

    @Cerberus
    See my response @ 119. For once that was not a joke. JC will never actually be a Democrat but rather a Republican-In-Exile.
    As I’ve previously stated on this blogoid, if he isn’t voting R by 2010 he will definitely be voting R in 2012.
    The washing is just too hard to resist. He will revert to true form eventually.

  137. 137
    Will says:

    It’s something that I was told by several N.C. Agriculture Cooperative Extension agents back in the days when there was a serious movement to legalize non-psychoactive hemp for paper production in the state as an alternative crop to tobacco. I did some Google checking and the legalization advocates suggest differently, but I’m not sure. The only scholarly paper I found suggests that hemp is less nutrient intensive than planting trees for paper manufacture, so that’s a knock against my case.

    I’d still like to see more data. The extension agents I talked to weren’t against it, but they had serious reservations. In fact, they were welcome to any solution that might have saved the farmers they worked with, but they were also university supported and the data they were collecting gave them pause. It may have been a localized issue to N.C. soil, as saltwater intrusion and development have put a strain on water resources and food production is still a going concern.

  138. 138

    Cerebus

    Yeah there was so much union support during the auto bailout that they were told to break their fucking contracts and take whatever was offered to them or they could go jump in a lake. And guess what happened? The unions broke their contract and took what was offered to them so they could still have a job. It was without a doubt the right move for the unions, but it for damn sure didn’t evidence some groundswell of support for unions. Besides that maybe you haven’t noticed but even people who were co sponsors of the bill originally ie DiFi are now saying they won’t be voting for it. Its funny how it could be such a great time for EFCA but its going down in flames HARD.

    I swear we should come up with a term for a sickness like "Krugmanitis" where a person has all the right ideas but are totally blind to a political climate that differs from their own world view.

  139. 139
    El Cid says:

    I thought Obama was being humorous, I support marijuana legalization / decriminalization, and I don’t think the town hall joke by Obama will have any impact on U.S. drugs legalization / decriminalization strategy.

  140. 140
    gil mann says:

    What annoys me about the NORML crowd is that I suspect their monomania stems from the fact that they have a hard time getting their hands on some pot. Friggin’ nanny-staters, can’t just spend a few minutes each month watching kung fu movies in a smelly apartment.

  141. 141
    Anoniminous says:

    How annoying and boring to insist on reading the position papers and listening to what is said.

    Projection is so much more fun and emotionally engaging.

  142. 142
    Libby says:

    @John Cole: The point is, there IS an economic case to made for legalization. It’s being made with great frequency lately, by people who are not potheads.

    And it makes me want to punch people in the neck when they say they’re for common sense policy but then effectively sabotage meaningful discussion by framing the debate using prohibitionist talking points.

  143. 143
    Cerberus says:

    @sgwhiteinfla:

    Guh?

    My point was that a scant matter of months ago, unions were treated like shit and that views on unions have radically improved with the AIG mess. My point was that comparing backlash against EFCA (relatively nonexistant) to the very recent backlash to the auto bailout (huge, forcing major concessions) shows that this is a great moment to strike because people hate management so much they’re not really bothering with the whole "evil workers" memes.

    But if you want to debate willful blindness on behalf of ideology…

  144. 144
    Libby says:

    @El Cid: I don’t know about that. The most politically safe move would have been to just ignore the question. There still would have been bitching but the furor would have died down a lot more quickly. Maybe this is one of those famed 11th whatever chess moves to advance the debate.

  145. 145
    WyldPirate says:

    Will @129:

    I’m actually not for the widespread cultivation of hemp. As a crop, it leaches the soil of nutrients and uses a massive amount of water. A field that has grown hemp needs serious rehab in order to grow food crops and water shortage issues are already set to become on of the major 21st century social problems, even in the U.S.

    You have this ass-backwards, Will.

    Cannabis of the hemp variety grows exactly like what it is—a noxius weed in parts of the Midwest where it used to be an industrial crop. It doesn’t deplete the soil and, in fact, was once, and still is, used in legitimate crop-rotation schemes. IT requires no herbicides or tilling, because it shades out any undergrowth and it has few pests so no pesticides.

    Now you start talking about the drug variety of Cannabis, than—if it is grown on a large scale—it requires much of the things you say. Either that, or a hell of a lot of labor and TLC.

  146. 146
    KRK says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    Then perhaps we have a right to a serious marijuana legalization movement, and not one that consists of freeping a poll in favor of an idiotic question about marijuana saving the economy.

    @TheOfficialHatOnMyCat:

    It’s the stoners who don’t take this seriously. If they did, they’d take a serious approach to its consideration.

    I’m kind of surprised that in a thread this long nobody has mentioned Al Giordano’s post on this from yesterday at Narco News. Giordano wasn’t impressed with Obama’s response — "His tone was deplorable and unfortunate. No excuses can be made for it." — but his bottom line is the same as many commenters on this thread: "the stupid answer came predictably from the asking of a stupid question…on an issue as emotionally polarizing as drugs, how organizers approach it, and the language used, often makes the difference between victory and defeat."

  147. 147
    Libby says:

    @Will: I’m not as well versed on hemp as I am on cannabis, but everything I’ve read suggests it’s the least environmentally destructive crop. It’s a weed. Grows anywhere. And many countries have successful industries built around it that contribute significantly to their revenue base. It has an extraordinary amount of uses.

  148. 148
    cyntax says:

    @KRK:
    Nice link on the Giordano article.

    Here’s the question Al holds out as a much better formulation of the issues, and I have to agree that had the President been flip with his answer to this question, I’d be more disappointed than I am now:

    I believe that one of the most ignored problems in this country is the massive cost, both social and economic, of the maintenance of our massive prison system. Especially during these difficult economic times, this is a cost that our country cannot continue to bear. What are your thoughts on the possibility of prison reform, especially in the area of drug crime?

  149. 149
    Tsulagi says:

    I hear people throw out the “legalize it and tax it” stuff, but I don’t know of any studies that break the numbers down

    Oh, I dunno about that. Maybe just urban legend, or the wishful thinking of a college professor (who had worked for Phillip Morris) I had, but in a business econ class he said tobacco companies were ready to go with a legalization of weed.

    Said they had already done preliminary studies in product design, packaging, marketing, etc. Projected usage. Product liability costs. Price points assuming taxation similar to cigarettes, etc. Said tobacco companies thought they would be a natural to take over as they already had capitalization, relationships and contracts with growers who could add weed, plus manufacturing and distribution networks.

    Makes sense. Would love to see their Super Bowl commercial.

  150. 150
    Laura W says:

    @TheOfficialHatOnMyCat:

    Just a ghost, in a sense. A figment.

    Has the makings of a fabulous new handle for you:

    TheOfficialGhostOnThisBlog

    (Pee Ess…trying to comment on this site sucks in Safari. Makes Firefox seem like a dream.)

  151. 151
    John Cole says:

    @Libby: Libby, I have conceded as much that there is an economic argument. I think it would probably be a net plus economically. I also think there are far better arguments for it, chief of which is that our current drug laws make NO SENSE. It makes no sense that one product that you grow and then ferment for dozens of hours which then you imbibe is legal while one which you grow and then smoke is not. It makes no sense to lock people up for years for using one of those products and not the other. It is immoral what has happened with the drug war. It has ruined lives, distorted our sense of what the government should and should not be allowed to do. The only reason the abuses in the war on terror were tolerated was because we have been conditioned to accept the bullshit after years slowly having our rights taken away in the war on drugs.

    But it will still be a small effect economically in the big picture. I find it amazing that the same people who two weeks ago were mocking the Republicans for freaking out about 7 billion in earmarks in a 400 billion dollar spending bill are now, quite seriously, freaking out about a 7 billion dollar swing in a 14 trillion dollar economy.

    And I am sick of people who can’t take a damned joke.

  152. 152
    John Cole says:

    Also, I am sick of the people at Reason. If all I knew about libertarianism came from those jackasses, I would vote for Sarah Palin before I voted a generic libertarian.

  153. 153
    John Cole says:

    Also, I am generally pro small government. Unlike Republicans, when I say I am pro small government, I mean the government should be as small as possible to get the job done, and should have as little say as possible in people’s personal lives. It should not be the government’s business how people get their freak on in the bedroom, who they get their freak on with in the bedroom, what kind of dirty pictures they want to look at, whether they want to pay someone to get their freak on, or whether they want to smoke a shitload of pot, rub chocolate all over themselves, and then get their freak on with PFunk cranking on the stereo with the speakers turned up to eleven.

  154. 154
    Will says:

    @Tsulagi:

    I don’t know if the fine people at Big Tobacco are the ones we really want carrying the banner of marijuana legalization. No matter their obvious infrastructural advantages, they have kind of a credibility problem with the American public as it is.

  155. 155
    WyldPirate says:

    JC, of course both you and Obama are right that legalizing weed isn’t going to turn around the economy, but it’s not a trivial amount of money we are talking just for the revenues from legal sales.

    (http://www.canorml.org/backgro.....ation.html)

    * An excise tax of $1 per half-gram joint of marijuana would raise about $1 billion per year, as much as the current excise tax on cigarettes.
    * Retail sales on the legal market would range from $3 – $5 billion, generating another $250 – 400 million in sales taxes.
    * Legalization would save over $156 million in law enforcement costs for arrest, prosecution, trial and imprisonment of marijuana offenders. Intrusive CAMP helicopter surveillance would also be eliminated.
    * Based on experience with the cigarette tax, total revenues of $1.5 – $2.5 billion might be realized.
    * Based on experience with the wine industry, the total economic activity generated by legal marijuana could be nearly three times as great as retail sales, around $8 – $13 billion. Amsterdam-style coffeehouses would generate jobs and tourism. If the marijuana industry were just one-third the size of the wine industry, it would generate 50,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in wages, along with additional income and business tax revenues for the state.
    * Industrial hemp could also become a major business, comparable to the $3.4 billion cotton industry in California.

    And yeah, I know it is a NORML web site, but their numbers aren’t off and agree with much I have read from other sources.

    Also, this doesn’t account for the radical cost -savings for government wasting time trying to eradicate the illegal market for drugs and the resultant crime and social costs. There is only two ways to end (really just decrease) the criminality and violence: leaglize, regulate and tax or the death penalty for anyone caught using (and I don’t think the latter would completely eradicate the illegal market).

    I do agree with most folks opinion here that legalization isn’t politically feasible now. But I think the whole thing was over-simplified due to Obama’s joking (which I liked, BTW). The "stoners" asked multiple questions—not all having to do with "getting the economy growing". Gotta give ’em credit too–those stoners ranked really "high" on the response list. They had to get up early to do that. ;)

  156. 156
    AhabTRuler says:

    Maybe we should just put "Not politically feasible" on our currency instead of "E Pluribus Unum."

  157. 157
    wasabi gasp says:

    …or whether they want to smoke a shitload of pot, rub chocolate all over themselves, and then get their freak on with PFunk cranking on the stereo with the speakers turned up to eleven.

    PFunk is just wrong. And you left out painting stilts and licorice whips.

  158. 158

    I guess what I’ll do is wait and see what this "shared responsibilty with Mexico" winds up meaning. What I heard from Hillary was more of what we’ve been doing and really oughta ban assault weapons. Considering the whacks to civil liberties in the name of WOD and smashing Mafia a person might be forgiven for being a bit nervous with this kind of talk. 21 years clean and sober doesn’t put much agenda on my point…

  159. 159
    SnarkIntern says:

    @Laura W:

    Heh.

    If these stoners were really committed to their leaf, they wouldn’t be wasting their time sparring with a ghostly apparition on an obscure blog.

    They’d be on their way to the G20 where they can get some real bigtime camera ops and a global soapbox for their antics.

    These guys here are just pretendahs, not contendahs.

  160. 160
    cyntax says:

    @wasabi gasp:

    PFunk is wrong? Damn, I don’t wanna be right then…

  161. 161
    Libby says:

    @John Cole: I haven’t bitched about any of the other great symbolic ‘outrages’ that have preoccupied the "shriek at the slightest lean to the center right" crowd, so I’m not taking your criticism personally. I continue to be astonished that Obama has been as progressive as he has been. I expected much less.

    What pisses me off about this isn’t really about making a joke about stoners freeping a poll. It was the implication that prohibition isn’t a legitimate issue. Framing the issue as the sole province of a bunch of druggies is how the prohibs have managed to sell every destruction of our civil rights in the name of safety.

    And I’m not good at math, so maybe I’m missing something but aren’t we talking about a $70 billion difference here? Instead of spending $40 billion, we could be making $30 billion. Why wouldn’t you add those two figures? I’d also mention in passing that I read somewhere the question was misstated on air and it wasn’t about saving the economy at all. I don’t know. I didn’t read it. Granted it won’t save the world, but it would have more than a negligible effect. And as far as I know, those numbers don’t include the revenue people would be contributing to the tax base as working members of society instead of rotting in jail.

    I don’t even think it’s good strategy for reformers to push the issue with Obama. I wouldn’t expect him to ever say anything other than he’s against legalization. It’s not an issue he can afford to lead on. It would be suicidal. But dismissing it as a joke was tone deaf.

    I think he should have just ignored it. But what do I know?

  162. 162
    Comrade Stuck says:

    OT- but only slightly

    Another example of Obama following up on a campaign promise only to rile the well intentioned mouth breathers.

    Under the directive, which began going into effect this week, agency officials are required to begin meetings about stimulus funding for projects by asking whether any party to the conversation is a lobbyist.

    “If so, the lobbyist may not attend or participate in the telephonic or in-person contact, but may submit a communication in writing,” reads Obama’s memo, which requires the agencies to post lobbyists’ written communications online.

    The rule is intended to prevent stimulus funds from being “distributed on the basis of factors other than the merits of proposed projects or in response to improper influence or pressure,” according to the memo.

    If you thought Obama might end up caving to lobbyists, this would put that suspicion to rest. Draconian, maybe, but loss of free speech, doubtful. He just says that free speech when spending public money needs to be put in writing, and defines parameters for it’s practice. Happens all the time.

    You want to make bacon with our money, then tell the country as a whole why, and we will get back to you.

    I love the ACLU most of the time, not on this however.

    Linky http://www.politico.com/news/s.....20580.html

  163. 163
  164. 164
    John Cole says:

    @Libby:

    Framing the issue as the sole province of a bunch of druggies is how the prohibs have managed to sell every destruction of our civil rights in the name of safety.

    That makes sense. I can understand that complaint.

  165. 165
    Libby says:

    This is really my last word. After wasting too much time and bandwidth on this today, I think I can distill it down to two sentences. The harms of a prohibition approach to dealing with drugs is a serious and legitimate issue. To treat it as just a silly concern limited solely to stoners is part of the problem, not the solution.

  166. 166
    AhabTRuler says:

    @John Cole: See, now this is why is stick around.

    And Libby, don’t stop now, you make sense. I just happen to have a cute kitty.

  167. 167

    Wait a second…telephonic…telephonically…Olberman just instructed me last night one of them is worth ridicule…but which one??
    This reminds me of the commercial with the couple in the hotel and he has two shampoos.
    Two shampoos?
    Maybe they knew you’d be reviewing them.
    It’s working! They got me! They got me!!

  168. 168
    jim says:

    As a cynical side note, I wonder if decriminalizing pot could actually hurt the banks, by eliminating all the cash they make from money laundering.

    Thus necessitating another bailout – perhaps by infusing taxpayer cash into increased CIA crack output.

  169. 169
    Bootlegger says:

    @Will:

    As a crop, it leaches the soil of nutrients and uses a massive amount of water. A field that has grown hemp needs serious rehab in order to grow food crops

    Evidence please. I’ve heard the exact opposite of this.

  170. 170
    margaret says:

    Considering all of the social costs of alcohol use and abuse, that is not unrealistic to think that perhaps marijuana might be the same.

    You had me all the way up until that point. That has got to be the most assinine thing I have ever seen on this blog. Cole, your simplistic conservatism is showing.

  171. 171
    Libby says:

    @AhabTRuler: Heh. I believe I’ve said more than enough on the subject. I didn’t really come here this morning intending to spend the day figuring out loud in the comment section why I was so uncharacterisically offended by this.

    I appreciate the Juicers indulging my running of the mouth today and you do have a really cute kitty. I come here for the snark, but I click on the links too.

  172. 172
    Silly Me says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    People are not arrested and jailed solely for driving over 65. Your analogy is inapplicable.

  173. 173

    you do have a really cute kitty

    I think we may be on the edges of appropriateness here…

  174. 174
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @Libby:

    . I didn’t really come here this morning intending to spend the day figuring out loud

    Spend too much time at BJ, and the "loud" will take you and not let go.:)

  175. 175
    Doug B. says:

    President Obama reminds me of the ACLU.

    The ACLU only takes cases it knows it can win. They draw some flack for that but it makes sense.

    Why use up political capital on an issue if you don’t think you can win no matter what happens.

    With all the pressing matters to a majority of the public, marijuana legalization has to be like on page 7045.

  176. 176
    John Cole says:

    That has got to be the most assinine thing I have ever seen on this blog.

    You have to be new here.

  177. 177

    There’s a reason why you tell the noisy kids to be quiet: Because the adults have more important things to talk about. That’s why they are the adults, and the kids are the kids. That’s why we don’t elect kids to public office.

    I just read through this again. What a fucking joke John McCain. Find your own authoritarian blogola to spoof.
    IOW – Get off my lawn!

  178. 178
    Will says:

    @margaret:

    Yeah, smoking pot is just very, very different from getting drunk. The only time I’ve ever seen anyone stoned getting violent or causing any kind of mayhem is if, yep, they’d been drinking heavily that night, too. On its own, pot is an extremely benign relaxant.

    I don’t really smoke pot anymore, because it’s just too much of a hassle and risk to collect it. But if it was legal, you bet I would. I would end up drinking a lot less, too.

  179. 179
    MikeJ says:

    Dave’s not here, man.

  180. 180
    Libby says:

    @Corner Stone: Sorry. I was unaware that there was a no flirting rule here… :-)

  181. 181
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @MikeJ:

    Let’s not go there!

  182. 182
    Tresy says:

    You know, maybe one reason Obama’s response ticked off some of his supporters is that it was reminiscent of (though not as stupid as) the sneering nonresponses that John Cole’s former crush and Obama’s predecessor was famous for.

    Oh, and my spouse was a prosecutor who herself never tried any illegal drugs but who has always thought our drug laws were stupid and cruel. So, just in case it didn’t occur to all the Obamapologists on this thread, it’s actually possible to be disinterestedly in favor of pot legalization.

  183. 183
    illissius says:

    I agree with most of what you say, so obviously I’m going to nitpick the bits where I don’t:

    Finally, I would like to note that Obama is, to a fault, a cautious politician.

    Frequently. But I wouldn’t say "to a fault". The way he’s pushing forward on his main agenda, specifically the budget, couldn’t really be described as cautious.

    He has gotten where he is by moving slowly

    Maybe this is like the tortoise and the hare, but I thought he’s gotten where he is rather quickly.

  184. 184

    @Libby
    No, no – please flirt away!
    In fact, and someone please correct me if my pervery is off base, but I believe there was a time in the recent past where Krista was supposed to flash the blogizens with Canadian bewbs.
    Could be wrong of course, and advance apologies to all.

  185. 185

    So, just in case it didn’t occur to all the Obamapologists on this thread, it’s actually possible to be disinterestedly in favor of pot legalization.

    I’ve never done an illegal drug, had a cigarette or a cup of coffee in my life and I’m in favor of legalization. Just saying, not pulling the holier than thou rug.

  186. 186
    Catsy says:

    @TheOfficialHatOnMyCat:

    As for Obama and the question, the question was whether legalization would be a good move for the economy. Only stoners could judge that this question was well timed or appropriate. […] Fuck the stoners, their antics to get this question into this bubble, with all the crises facing this country right now, shows how stupid and pot-fried they are.

    And fuck yourself while you’re at it, because you clearly haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about. There were serious discussions about this very thing recently in the California legislature. California’s economy is fucked, their prisons are beyond overcrowded, and there are nontrivial arguments that legalization and taxation would help both of those problems. How is that not topical and timely?

    I don’t comprehend people who get self-righteous about whether or not other people like pot. I laughed at Obama’s comment myself, but if your life sucks so much that you have to rag on stoners in order to feel superior to someone, you’re beyond help. I regularly take long breaks from weed, but you’ll always be an asshole.

  187. 187
    Jrod says:

    If now isn’t a "good" time to press to legalization, when is? Let’s be honest, there will never be a "good" time. Much like gay marriage, progress will only be made by pushing for it constantly until progress is made.

    Part of the reason the legalization lobby is in such bad shape is that everyone put it on the back burner after 9/11. Maybe that was the right thing to do; I certainly thought so at the time. But guess what, it’s eight years later. It’s time to get back at it.

    Or we could just wait forever until the stars align and the time is absolutely perfect to push for legalization. We’d be waiting forever, of course, but I guess that’d suit CatOnMyHat just fine, cuz’ stoners are silly children.

  188. 188
    Jrod says:

    Oh, and Obama can never legalize mj because he’s black?!?! Are you fucking serious? What, because he’s black he’s obligated to act like every other lily-white old fucker throughout his term, or else racists might say something bad about him? And you people think that it’s the stoners who have a childlike understanding of politics? Jeezus Fucking Christ.

    Maybe Obama should cut taxes on the wealthy again, otherwise racist right-wingers will say bad things about him! You cowards make me sick.

  189. 189
    Recall says:

    delurking

    “…we took votes about which questions were going to be asked, and I think 3 million people voted or 3.5 million people voted,”

    "legalizing marijuana"

    "this was a fairly popular question"

    His answer said no, but his framing said YES YES YES.

    He is baiting the pro-Marijuana faction, and he will use their outrage to push a drug reform agenda.

    Obama will never "champion" legalization. He will cave to popular demand, while grinning like a bastard.

  190. 190
    metricpenny says:

    … or whether they want to smoke a shitload of pot, rub chocolate all over themselves, and then get their freak on with PFunk cranking on the stereo with the speakers turned up to eleven.

    JC – So that’s how you like to roll (in the hay). New found respect, my brotha. ; >)

    Enjoyed this thread. I was watching it live when President Obama addressed the issue. I laughed because I thought the "stoners" were just setting a tradition of moving their questions to the top of the stack (I recall this happened the last time there was a "send in your question to the White House" event), and Obama was just going along with the "joke".

    Like most change that’s happened in this country, it is going to take an organized effort. And moving questions to the top of the list for a town hall isn’t the type of organized effort to which I am referring.

  191. 191
    Mission To Marzipan says:

    @Recall: It could be the wine, my legal drug of choice, talking…but thanks for this pithy perspective.

    I usually skip the threads on legalization issues because they are so frequent and often repetitive, but for whatever reasons, this one has been especially informative and interesting. (Prolly the wine again.)

  192. 192
    Rob says:

    DEA raids continue in California, in direct conflict with Obama’s campaign promises. Which the folks you dismiss at Reason have been all over.

    And while he never gave any promises towards decriminalization/legalization, it is true that a lot of us, including me, were honestly hoping that a person of his intellect and experience would inject some much needed common sense into the so called "drug war." Clearly, at this point, that ‘hope’ for ‘change’ seems misguided.

    Finally, the distinction between Seth Rogen making a joke, and the top cop in a nation that daily destroys people’s lives daily for a plant that grows naturally upon the earth, blithely and jokingly dismissing the very question… well, the distinction seems obvious to me, and your comparison disingenuous.

  193. 193
    baikonur says:

    Look, a big problem I have with Obama’s response to this question is that he distorted a serious question about the criminalization and incarceration of a large portion of the populace, touching on only as an aside the economic benefits of legalization, into a whacked-out stoner proposition to fix the entire economy with the proceeds. Tee hee! Giggle! Then he slurs the whole online community in the process, implying they’re all stoners since they ask questions like that. Har har! The whole proceeding was worthy of Dick Nixon in full cavort with a cackling crowd of Moral Majority goons. Jeez! Has nothing changed?

    Please, John, read the actual question.

  194. 194
    Will says:

    @Rob:

    I’m very much about Obama and Holder enforcing their new medical marijuana raid policy, less about the president’s drug rhetoric in general. Really, what’s the point of Holder announcing the new policy of deferring to the states, if they don’t even enforce it? It’s certainly not earning political points either way.

  195. 195
    Et Tu Brutus? says:

    Smart, cautious, practical politician: fully intends to get re-elected in 2012 ( and even discussing something like legalization of cannabis would give too much ammunition to the Palin brigade).

  196. 196
    Graeme says:

    1. I do think the average Obama voter is ready for at least decriminalization.

    2. It’s THREE FLOUNDERING WARS. THREE.

    The war on (some) drugs is a joke. I’m not laughing, though, because the joke is on me.

    What the hell? Let’s just double down on all our dumb wars that got started by the GOP. Hella smart, you fuckin’ donkeys.

    USA! USA!

  197. 197

    Certainly, I never thought that Obama, as a good calculating centrist, ran on a platform of legalizing marijuana — nor do I know anybody who did. No unicorns slaughtered here.

    But there’s a perfectly good case for legalization, and Obama didn’t have to mock and demean those who trusted the town hall process he set up, and dismiss the effort they made to get the question asked. That is the point.

  198. 198
    He Did Exactly What He Promised in Two Way says:

    First he explicitly denied supporting the legalization of pot during the campaign. Although as has been mention he has soften the rules on medical pot. I don’t remember him having a position on it in the campaign but I’ll take it as a hat tip to reason. Second he said he would answer the questions that were submitted. He didn’t say he would give them the answer they wanted but since this was one of the top questions that was asked he kept his word and addressed it. Be careful who you vote for he may just turn out to be telling you the truth during the campaign.

  199. 199
    AnneLaurie says:

    So, the state’s trying to balance the budget by slashing prison costs. It’s either that, teachers or highways. I imagine N.C. is not alone in realizing that they’ve creating a massive millstone on the economy that made voters happy in good days, but is becoming increasingly politically dangerous as voters start to realize that the choice really is schools or prisons.

    Releasing non-violent drug offenders and decriminalizing mj is the easiest solution and it seems to be the one that a lot of states are choosing. There’s political blowback to be sure, but unlike the Washington crowd, governors tend to get directly blamed for the quality of state services.

    Will, as an old cynic, I am waiting for the first State Sheriff to announce that he’s going to "solve" the prison deficit by setting his prisoners to work planting, growing & harvesting the demon marijuana. Which will be sold to, y’know, Canada or Holland or some other morally-lax not-American place, of course. This, SS will proclaim, will have the dual benefits of keeping the prisoners occupied and bringing in desperately needed funds. Win-Win! My personal bet for first-past-the-post would be the notorious Arizona jackbooter, now that Phoenix has been abandoned by the snowbirds and similar idiots-come-lately. But then, one of the advantages of cropping the demon weed is that it does well even on toxic-waste sites which can’t be used for food production (under the assumption that babies & small children will not be smoking sativa contaminated with lead, PPBs, or arsenic), so I can understand the attraction for cash-strapped law enforcement in urban areas with overlapping Superfund site problems, too…

  200. 200
    Realist says:

    He was asked the wrong question.

    The answer he gave was correct – legalizing marijuana will most likely NOT help the economy, because any increased income from marijuana taxes would be more than offset by all the cops and prison guards who would lose their jobs once we stop locking up so many people for nothing.

    The question he should have been asked was whether he supported decriminalization.

  201. 201
    b. says:

    Obama had a chance to turn the question into a significant one – for example, the federal campaign to suppress state-legislated use of medical marihuana – by, without his usual establishment gyrations, stating "I do not see any connection to the economy, but…". Sure, he might not want to turn the question into a comment on the war on drugs. He would not surprise me by not daring to voice tentative support for Sen. Webb’s clear challenge to the status quo (Obama not being one to fundamentally challenge the status quo, being rather focused on shoring it up).

    But given that his own AG has to publicly answer questions about continued DEA raids into the second week of his own presidency, there was a clear offering to take a flawed townhall question and turn it into a statement addressing at least one significant aspect of the issue, and opening the field for future debate (and townhall questions) on the larger issues of the war on drugs.

    There are many possible reasons why he did not (such as unawareness, indifference, excessive caution, preference to downplay townhall relevance), but none of them reflect well. I agree that the chosen question – chosen by whom? – was ill-posed, and that the non-answer was hardly significant compared to e.g. the evasiveness Obama exhibits with respect to his own repsonsibilities under international law with respect to the prosecution of admitted torture, but I think that this tempest in a teapot is merely a reflection of a growing unease with a president who usually strives to say the right words even as he chooses not do the right thing, because, in this case, he did not even bother to strain for a proper choice of phrase.

  202. 202
    Charles says:

    Nobody said he ran on the platform of marijuana legalization, and not even the question posed to him suggested that said legalization would be "the key to economic recovery." Mr Cole, like Mr Obama, in this instance, has done well at creating and vanquishing straw men; if only Obama had addressed what the question actually said, instead of engaging in politics as usual. As he did not, it’s a shame that Cole is not sufficiently intellectually honest (or capable?) to acknowledge at least that much.

  203. 203
    Bob F says:

    I admit, I was irate when I watched that live town hall meeting, saw with my own eyes and heard with my own ears Obama’s completely dismissive response to a serious question that many many people care about.

    To the self-absorbed "now is not the timers" and other defeatists on this forum, Obama had time for Guantanamo Bay didn’t he? How many people are in jail there? Compare that to the number of people in jail for drug crimes and marijuana crimes.

    He has a drug czar for christsake, he could have told the audience that he was putting him to good work drafting up plans to legalize. He could have told the audience, that Ron Paul and Barney Franks bill on marijuana legalization went nowhere and the citizens need to put the pressure on their legislators to get Congress to pass a bill. He could have said that the black market for drugs is $320 billion a year, that money gets laundered into the financial system, and the banks need that money to recover. He could have said waging the drug war costs $40 billion a year and employs a lot of people that would be fired if legalization went through.

    All we got was a glib BS response.

    Meanwhile tens of thousands of people rot in jail for a marijuana crimes, a half a million total for all drug crimes. They get houses seized by the government under guilty until proven innocent asset forfeiture laws, and all you guys care about are your own necks, your jobs, your houses, and your health care.

    I have news for you, the economy is a lot more like that South Park ep the other night. The government cannot turn the economy around. Consumer spending is 2/3 of GDP and consumer purchases employ most citizens. Until we the people start buying shit again, the recession won’t end, no matter how many hours a day Obama spends focused on the economy.

  204. 204

    […] this bitch too. Real Niggaz Chill Here @ 8:48 […]

  205. 205
    Avedon says:

    Quite seriously, as a person who doesn’t smoke marijuana for the simple reason that it makes me feel worse rather than better, I actually think this is an important issue.

    I mean, are you aware of just how much the drug war is costing us? Have you taken a good look at what it means in terms of prison costs and lives ruined and the police being militarized against the American population and given the presumption that it’s okay for them to arrest, tase, and even shoot people for being a bit disrespectful of them (or no reason at all)?

    And then there’s Mexico….

    The drug war is a great tragedy, and if we can’t even talk about decriminalizing a relatively harmless drug like marijuana, how are we going to confront the rest of it?

    Really, what Obama was shrugging off was a very serious issue. I don’t feel the least little bit embarrassed about criticizing him for it. After all, I criticized Bush, too, and I didn’t even vote for him.

    I’m not saying I expected Obama to be better than this. I noticed early in the primary that he was a dick. I voted for him anyway because he was running against a much worse dick.

    But there’s no reason I should not continue to make the observation that he is being a dick.

  206. 206

    @Realist:

    The question he should have been asked was whether he supported decriminalization.

    No.

    First of all, he has answered that question.*

    Second, the topic was the economy, and the question was off topic.

    *SFAIK, his stated position has been that he supports decriminalizing simple possession, but not legalizing production and distribution. To my knowledge, nothing he has said or done is inconsistent with that position.

  207. 207

    I thought it might be useful to take a look at what that top rated question actually asked. It was not as simplistic as it has been made out to be:

    "With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?"

    Perhaps it wasn’t as articulate as it might have been, but artlessness aside, it was addressing the fact that our Prison for Profit system has driven up our per capita incarceration rate to the highest in the world (5% of the world’s population, 25% of its prison population), topping notorious regimes like North Korea and China.

    Obama could simply have said: "I understand that our nation’s Drug Policy needs reform, as does our prison system. I will be calling for hearings on that subject soon." Or even, "Senator Jim Webb has recently called for hearings around this issue, and I support him in that." Would that have been so hard, or politically risky?

    What he didn’t have to do was make a joke at the expense of those to whom this issue is significant. To see examples of the measured and articulate response to this incident from that vilified "online community" please see the comment section to Paul Armentano’s article about it for The Hill (the Congressional blog.) Here is a link to some excerpts.

  208. 208

    […] You may not like his position, may not think it is right, but if you thought he ran on a platform of… […]

  209. 209
    terry chay says:

    @orogeny: Someone answered this more explicitly, but the general concept here is that decriminalization means a reduction in penalties, but not necessary legalization. For instance, right now, if you possess a large enough quantity of pot (forgive me if I don’t know the amount, I’ve never smoked), then you can be labeled “possession with intent to sell” which is a felony. Obviously decriminalization would reduce that to a misdemeanor. Similarly, if caught smoking, it could still be illegal, but instead a fine could be imposed, etc. But say, driving under the influence of pot? might still be a felony.

    Laws can be adjusted according that that standard without legalization.

    As for legalization itself there are some enforcement inherency in addition to the attitudinal one that everyone cites. Enforcement under a Driving While Stoned(?) would be very difficult as a test doesn’t exist that can test being under the influence. Also pot has a nasty additive effect when combined with another regulate drug that we’ve legalized (alcohol).

  210. 210
    bob reeves says:

    I have been in the field of social work (certified vocational rehabilitation counselor) for a number of years. Many of my disabled clients have substance abuse issues.

    Recreational drug users should not be arrested and charged with a crime. The only person hurt is the drug user. The drug user needs medical and mental treatment to lower the demand for drugs. Some drugs can lead to dysfunctional behavior as the user moves further and further from the mainstream society. They can’t hold a job and communicate with the non-drugged population. I have found that when a drug user can’t continue to pay for their drugs or their basic needs they will look for help. That is when we have to be there for them, not to jail them, but to assist them out of an addiction, when they realize that it could lead to their early death. .

  211. 211
    Anonymous says:

    I recommend that anyone debating the ‘legalise it and tax it’ position reads the following paper by Jeff Miron and endorsed by 530 leading economists — including the now deceased Milton Friedman:

    http://www.prohibitioncosts.org/index.html

  212. 212

    […] crazy dopers’ looks at the audience, and it was infuriating. It was also when I realized how wrong I was in March when President Obama dismissed the marijuana question that was freeped to the top of his online […]

  213. 213

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