After hundreds of thousands of votes on tens of thousands public policy questions, the #1 question asked to Barack Obama's transition team pertained to the War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Alcoholic, Non-Pharmaceutical, Tobacco-Free) Drugs: Open for Questions: Response | Change.gov: The Obama-Biden Transition Team
Question: "Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?" S. Man, Denton
Answer: President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ?>
The dismissal of the subject by the Obama team isn't surprising; as I have mentioned before, it's not like we served him up a question he could easily say "yes" to. It is less surprising when you survey the reactions to the question in the media. It's headlines like Wonkette's "Hippies Want One Thing And One Thing Only From This Obama" that fill in the whole story. This is a Washington DC-based blog read by many inside the beltway. At first, I thought these must be the only people (aside from South Park's Eric Cartman) who still use the word "hippie".
But, surprisingly, I found the lede "The fine hippies over at StopTheDrugWar.org are furious with President-elect Barack Obama" in the University of Colorado at Boulder's coverage (not too far from South Park, interesting). It shows that the frame is still "Do you support legalizing marijuana so hippies can get high?". Until that frame becomes "Do you support incarcerating Americans who use cannabis?" we'll get nowhere.
The Nation magazine fairly addressed the story: The 10,300 submitted questions drew about 978,000 votes, with the leading queries focused on marijuana legalization, restoring Constitutional protections, avoiding waste in the financial bailout, Stem Cell research and education.
Though it placed the marijuana question as just one of the leading queries, not the leading query, and nothing about the context that 2 of the top ten, 6 of the top 20, 16 of the top 50, and 31 of the top 100 questions all had to do with the War on (Certain American Citizens Using Non-Alcoholic, Non-Pharmaceutical, Tobacco-Free) Drugs.
31% of the top 100 questions focused on drugs! This is an issue America cares about because it directly affects so many Americans! Constitutional protections are esoteric, the financial bailout happens up there in the plutosphere, stem cell research is a someday thing - but everybody smokes marijuana or knows someone who does; or can see that busting medical marijuana patients is cruel; or busting young adults for smoking weed is a waste of time and money; or has lived in a drug-ravaged neighborhood that arrests haven't seemed to cure; or live close to Mexico and see 6500 deaths there from drug warfare; or they just have the good ol' fashioned common sense to understand that prohibition does not work, cannot work, has never worked, and it is denying us the revenue and jobs from a multi-billion-dollar industry in a time of economic desperation.
Ken Layne over at AOL News had this closing line in a larger story about Barack Obama being America's Favorite Republican: "Marijuana addicts aren't too happy about the new administration, for example. No more smoking your dope with food stamps, dummies!"
So funny! I'm going to go tell that to my friend in Alabama with multiple sclerosis. Most days she can't get out of bed and her spasms are painful, so she likes a good joke. She's on food stamps, too, since she can't really work and is on disability, so I'm sure she'll doubly appreciate the humor.
She's one of those "marijuana addicts". Smoking a joint really helps her. It's amazing. Spasms disappear immediately and the pain subsides. You can see a wave of relaxation and calm wash over her. Unfortunately, she can be arrested and jailed for using this medicine, and the incoming president just supported that outcome. To think we'd expect a leader to protect disabled "marijuana addicts" - what a bunch of dummies we are!...
...Of course drugs have to be illegal and people have to be arrested and incarcerated for taking drugs! Why, the only people who would even think differently must be hippies who are high, man. (You know, like economist Milton Friedman, astronomer Carl Sagan, conservative icon William F. Buckley Jr., former Baltimore mayor Kurt Schmoke, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, all the cops in LEAP, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish leaders, former president Jimmy Carter, former Secretary of State George Shultz, Judge James Gray, Judge Francis Young, every serious governmental study on the issue ever undertaken by any country in the world…)
When will the media and our politicians learn that reforming these drug laws is a popular position with the public? When 31% of your questions - the plurality of the top 100 - concern drug prohibition in an era of bailouts, wars, recession, gay marriage, terrorism,
deficits, corruption, and torture, you'd think they'd get the hint.
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