President Obama: What Is So Funny About Taxing And Regulating Marijuana?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 26, 2009


    Here’s another way you can let the White House know what you think. The Drug Czar’s blog, Pushing Back, is asking for the public’s feedback regarding Thursday’s Town Hall Meeting. You already know what they think; let them know what you think here.


    Since many of you are writing President Obama on your own, NORML would like to assist the process by providing you with a link for contacting the White House directly. Please log on and send your e-mails by going here.

    Also, please check The Hill.com (Read and comment here) and HuffingtonPost.com (Read and comment here) on Friday for updated versions of this commentary, and please post your feedback to those forums as well.

    Speaking live moments ago President Barack Obama pledged “to open up the White House to the American people.”

    Well, to some of the American people that is.

    As for those tens of millions of you who believe that cannabis should be legally regulated like alcohol — and the tens of thousands of you who voted to make this subject the most popular question in today’s online Presidential Town Hall — well, your voice doesn’t really matter.

    Asked this morning whether he “would … support the bill currently going through the California legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence,” the President responded with derision.

    “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, and I don’t know what this says about the online audience,” he laughed.

    “The answer is no, I don’t think that [is] a good strategy.”

    Obama’s cynical rebuff was short-sighted and disrespectful to a large percentage of his supporters. After all, was it not this very same “online audience” that donated heavily to Obama’s Presidential campaign and ultimately carried him to the White House?

    Second, as I’ve written previously in The Hill and elsewhere, the overwhelming popularity of the marijuana law reform issue — as manifested in this and in similar forums — illustrates that 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.

    The Obama administration should be embracing this constituency, not mocking it.

    Third, will somebody please ask the President: “What is it that you think is so funny about the subject of marijuana law reform?”

    Since 1965, police have arrested over 20 million Americans for violating marijuana laws, yet nearly 90 percent of teenagers say that pot is “very easy” or “fairly easy” to obtain. That’s funny?

    According to this very administration, there is an unprecedented level of violence occurring at the Mexico/US border — much of which is allegedly caused by the trafficking of marijuana to the United States by drug cartels. America’s stringent enforcement of pot prohibition, which artificially inflates black market pot prices and ensures that only criminal enterprises will be involved in the production and sale of this commodity, is helping to fuel this violence. Wow, funny stuff!

    Finally, two recent polls indicate that a strong majority of regional voters support ending marijuana prohibition and treating the drug’s sale, use, and distribution like alcohol. A February 2009 Zogby telephone poll reported that nearly six out of ten of voters on the west coast think that cannabis should be “taxed and legally regulated like alcohol and cigarettes.” A just-released California Field Poll reports similar results, finding that 58 percent of statewide voters believe that regulations for cannabis should be the same or less strict than those for alcohol.

    Does the President really think that all of these voters are worthy of his ridicule?

    Let the White House laugh for now, but the public knows that this issue is no laughing matter. This week alone, legislators in Illinois, Minnesota, and New Hampshire voted to legalize the use of marijuana for authorized individuals. Politicians in three additional states heard testimony this week in favor of eliminating criminal penalties for all adults who possess and use cannabis. And lawmakers in Massachusetts and California are now debating legally regulating marijuana outright.

    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. And all over this nation, whether Capitol Hill wants to acknowledge it or not, they are engaging in this debate as we speak.

    Sorry Obama, this time the joke’s on you.

    770 Responses to “President Obama: What Is So Funny About Taxing And Regulating Marijuana?”

    1. lori says:

      I’ll vote for someone else next time if these dumba** laws are not changed before that time

    2. James says:

      I cannot believe the Presidents actions concerning the clearly highly popular questions concerning ending cannabis prohibition! On the budget list for Open For Question were no less than three questions concerning this, ranking by a PUBLIC VOTE IN THE TOP TEN!!! He did make mention of questions like it, and in addressing it he disrespected all the people who voted for those questions by regarding them as “what kind of people online”. Truely intellegent people. I myself manage a business that is doing well and have to hide the fact that I even believe in ending the prohibition, yet the customers who come in can buy beer, alcohol, and cigarettes lawfully. I do not disapprove of the later I simply hate the hypocracy of the forementioned. He asked for our input and when we ask a question steeped in dogma he ridacules those who ask it. I am truely outraged. Please will tell the truth about the highest, absoulutely no pun intended, voted questions and the outrage we all feel for being regarded as stupid hippies who are incapable of thinking clearly. However somehow can mobilize on a website in 48 housr? We are tired of hiding and we are not going to do it anymore. Much like in April 1933 for my business the prohibition must end!!! PLEASE HELP!!!

    3. chanceyray says:

      what a dick.

    4. Mike says:

      Marijuana legalization will always be #1 when he is ‘Open for Questions’. How many more times can he laugh at it before he realizes it’s a serious issue?

    5. sawzall says:

      I expected this. He is very smug, and will likely just perpetuate the existing clime of prohibition.

    6. High,
      My response–YO, MY NIGGAH, WHY YOU DIS ME LIKE THIS??? YEAH, YOU –BARRACK OBBAMMER, WHAT UP??? Homey don’t play dat!!! The whole purpose is to let the public speak; do we have another Clinton Clone sell-out???? When I asked Dr. Elders for her support for MMJ in ’92, I got a straight answer and Clinton fired her for her honesty. President Obama has promised to listen to the voices of the people, if we don’t count as people, FIRE him!!!

    7. Trent says:

      I have already sent an email at whitehouse.gov about the disregard of the real question. They chose a question that was maybe not the one we would like to have addressed. I think that showed how weak they really are. Millions of lives ruined is funny apparently.

    8. Mike says:

      I was so angry when I first read that he laughed off the topic as he did. Our president clearly cannot see the easiest, most sensible, most profitable and most healthy way of solving the US drug problem, and it’s saddening.

    9. Richard says:

      Thank you NORML for standing up for the rights of the millions of Americans who have been forced into criminal behavior due to an unjust law. This is the reason I am a monthly donor, and will continue to be.

      We saw this week the amazing outcry of Americans who used the system to try to enact change. We then saw the President of the United States ridicule and turn every one of us into a stereotype.

      I turned off the town hall meeting immediately after that comment, and I can now say he has lost my support. This is the first time I have ever voted for a democrat, and now I don’t know if I ever will again. I put my faith in Obama, and I just found out what that means to him.

      I sent a letter immediately to Obama through whitehouse.gov immediately after I shut down the town hall in disgust. I wrote what amounted to a full confession of my marijuana use, including my full name and address, and invited him to turn me in. He was a regular smoker in his younger years, and the only reason he was able to run for president is because he was one of the lucky ones, unlike millions of others Americans, who didn’t get caught. Had he been caught, he’d have found himself ineligable to vote let alone run for president. Now, he is making a joke of the millions of others who had their lives ruined. People who have lost jobs, lost years of their lives, and time with their families.

      We are not all stereotypes.

    10. Larry Brewer says:

      Well, maybe if we are serious about legalization, we should vote for a nominee that is willing to legalize and would be willing to spend political clout on the issue, regardless of party affiliation. Even if we don’t get our choice elected, politics is all about demographics and a dem or a rep will see all the votes and pick up our demographic the next go around.

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