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. S says:

      Often quoted, and now seldom followed.
      If you’re going to say it, MEAN IT!
      “change we can believe in?”
      Not today

    2. guest says:

      Let me start by saying I think pot should be legal in all 50 states.

      But to start the ball rolling I e-mailed Pres. Obama about a very serious health conditon I have and asked him about making it a national thing instead of a state thing for medical purposes. I went into detail about my condition and how no pain killers help me. I have even had drs tell me marijuana may help my daily pain.

      Never heard back from anyone in his office.

      I’m not sure why he’s ignoring this issue?

      I really can’t see why it’s illegal at all. He needs to step up to the plate and listen to what voters are saying.

    3. Drew says:

      Obama is a hypocrite… he’ll smoke it all he wants, but won’t even bring the issue to the American people and let us vote on it.

    4. I knew nothing would be done says:

      I knew this would happen. Did anyone see all those people laughing when osama obama brought up the pot issue? This pisses me off to no end!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!\
      And everyone thought he was going to do something about it. hahahahaha, the joke is on whoever voted for this sorry ass to be our president.

    5. Bill says:

      I will NOT vote for him again, what an ASS! I am extremely upset he feels he can just laugh at us! I hope his ratings go through the floor.

    6. alfredo says:

      It’s called skirting around the issue. So convenient for president Obama to mock the idea of marijuana based on how it might help the economy. However true that is, it was an easy out for the president to suggest that that should be considered in the same vain as what most Americans know about our economic crisis. The question needs to remain should we legalize marijuana and and regulate it like alcohol given the reality of the failed drug war, Americans disregard for the law, and so on. Focus on the fact that the “black market” remains the only means for attaining marijuana despite many state laws which have decriminalized possesion. Nice, you can possess marijuana and have a civil citation, yet you can’t get it anywhere legally. Keep it up Mr. Obama, you support the next time around might not be there!

    7. Paradym says:

      I feel so insulted and outraged at his remarks and attitude on this. I am very supportive of his administration, but this is a slap in the face.

    8. bill says:

      we, as a large part of this nation, are disapointed and feel like the butt-end of a joke. i really thought you would take this seriously, as we did. hope you take the time to think on it. maybe you did, but your scared.

    9. Austin says:

      I Fear My Own Government

      Why wont they listen

    10. Debut says:

      “Hey here’s a great idea, let’s open a public poll into the white house to see what the public is thinking! Then let’s just laugh at them for coming up with such silly questions. Ha Ha ha! Did America really think it belonged to itself?”

      Man, I am fucking pissed.

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