O-Blow-Off: Obama Site Ducks Marijuana Reform Questions (Again!)
Voting ended late last week on the President-Elect’s website Change.gov. As was the case in December, questions regarding marijuana law reform proved to be extremely popular.
Of the more than 76,000 questions posed to Obama by the general public, the fourth most popular question overall called on the incoming administration to cease arresting and prosecuting adults who use cannabis. And in the sub-category “National Security,” the most popular question posed by the public pertained to amending U.S. drug policies.
But you wouldn’t know it by listening to the administration’s latest video response (posted online here) — as neither issue received even a passing mention from incoming White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. (The Obama administration’s woefully inadequate response to last month’s top-rated marijuana law reform question appears at the bottom of the Change.gov page here.)
Am I surprised to learn that the Obama team has decided to hide their collective heads in the sand? Not at all. But by doing so, they’re missing the bigger picture.
The latest round of Change.gov online poll results illustrate two important points.
One: there is a significant, vocal, and identifiable segment of our society that wants to see an end to America’s archaic and overly punitive marijuana laws.
Two: the American public is ready and willing to engage in a serious and objective political debate regarding the merits of legalizing the use of cannabis by adults.
The Obama administration should heed these poll results and understand that marijuana law reform is not a political liability; rather, it is a political opportunity.
Fortunately for the public, there will be other “opportunities” for the Obama administration to address marijuana law reform.
This Friday, the social networking website Change.org, in concert with the Case Foundation, will hold a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, DC to announce the top 10 ideas — as voted on by the public — for the new administration. At the event, the two organizations will also announce the launch of a national advocacy campaign behind each idea in collaboration with nonprofit partners to turn each idea into actual policy.
The top issue, as determined by the public? You guessed it: “Legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.”
Friday’s press conference will no doubt be covered by the mainstream media. Imagine the splash we will make when the public’s call to legalize marijuana is presented as the #1 idea for the new administration. Perhaps then the incoming administration will finally be forced to answer the question on the minds of millions of Americans:
“Is President Obama going to continue to define himself and tens of millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans as criminals, or is he ready to publicly acknowledging that prohibition causes far more harm than the responsible use of marijuana itself?”
Change.org voting ends at 5pm eastern time on Thursday, January 15, so if you haven’t yet voted, please do so now. January 12, 2009