open for questions
NOTE: If you feel marijuana legalization was an entirely “appropriate” topic for debate, tweet your dissatisfaction of the White House’s censoring of NORML’s YouTube question by tweeting them using #WHchat and @WhiteHouse.
“Pres. Obama, what is inappropriate about saving billions and not arresting nonviolent american citizens for marijuana? #WHChat @WhiteHouse”
– E. Altieri, Comm. Coordinator
As of 7pm Pacific, I checked the YouTube.com/WhiteHouse page to see how many votes our question received in President Obama’s latest YouTube Forum. The good news? Our question, “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, for marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up non-violent marijuana users, isn’t it time we regulate and tax marijuana?” received 4,023 votes, making it one of the most popular submissions to the forum.
The bad news? See for yourself:
“The submission has been removed because people believe it is inappropriate.” Hmm, well, who are these people? The question got 241 “thumbs down” votes from viewers, was that it? I notice that of the 615 questions submitted that asked about “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010″ in the text, some still remain with 28 “thumbs down” and others are removed with as few as three, so it doesn’t seem like “people” refers to viewers or the public, does it?
Who are these people, President Obama? They’re not the people out here who keep making marijuana legalization the number one topic of these online forums. They’re not the millions whose lives are impacted by a marijuana arrest; the tokers and their families who lose jobs, houses, kids, freedom, assets, respect, security, and peace of mind because of marijuana prohibition.
Sadly, I think these people are actually just one person… a guy who smoked weed (and snorted coke) back in the day as a teenager in Hawaii and was damn lucky he didn’t get caught or today he’d be Barry the Drug Criminal.
President Obama responded to the most popular question (or, the eighty most popular questions) on YouTube.com’s “Ask Obama” forum regarding the debate on drug legalization in America. Despite being the most popular question and gaining four times the support of any other non-drug war question, the YouTube moderator didn’t ask the question until #15. The President’s response is a lot of platitudes about treatment, reducing demand, and reallocating resources, despite the Obama administration’s budget that puts twice the resources toward law enforcement than to treatment. At its core, however, it retains the premise that responsible adult marijuana consumers must be persuaded by our government, through drug tests, drug courts, forced rehab, and incarceration, into not consuming cannabis.
Mr. President, we’re never going to stop smoking marijuana. Never. American demand for cannabis is here to stay. You can let criminals control that market or you can do the sensible thing and begin regulating it.
Once again you have asked us about changing American policy and the direction this country should take. Your “Ask Obama” forum sponsored by YouTube promises to take questions from the American people on the issues they find most important in terms of national policy.
When you did this in 2010 you heard from us loud and clear about marijuana law reform. We asked about re-scheduling cannabis to allow medical marijuana to flourish, decriminalizing marijuana to end thousands of arrests, legalizing pot to raise tax revenue, ending prohibition to cripple Mexican drug traffickers, regulating cannabis to keep it out of kids’ hands, reforming drug laws to re-prioritize police resources, embracing industrial hemp as a truly green energy source, and using science, not politics, to dictate our drug policy.
And you flat-out ignored us, despite those questions dominating in both quantity and popularity.
When you did this in 2009 you got the same response from the public. That time you didn’t ignore us; you just laughed at us (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QLFmGu57jLI).
We know you’re a busy man and there are many pressing issues facing this country. So we took the time to review the Top 100 questions on the “Ask Obama” site just now and condense each one into a few words so you could get an idea what the country is voting on.
Understand that this is not the list that appears when one clicks on the site. This list is compiled by choosing “All Questions” and then choosing “Sorted by popularity”. When one first visits the site, one of seven random topics including Jobs & Economy, Foreign Policy & National Security, Health Care, Education, Immigration, Energy and Environment, and Other, is presented in “Sorted by what’s hot” order, so it isn’t as if a certain topic becomes popular and then gets more popular because more random visitors are exposed to it.
So here they are, out of 97,344 people who have submitted 77,551 questions and cast 826,973 votes, these are the Top 100 Questions (as of Tuesday, 10pm Pacific). I’ve taken the liberty of color-coding questions about the Drug War in white, questions about you ignoring our questions about the Drug War in yellow, and questions that are not about the Drug War in red.
Wait, make that the Top 101 Questions, so I can have at least one red question… Click the graphic above to read the full-sized version… or continue reading for all the questions…
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.
UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!! UPDATE!!!
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.
WhiteHouse.gov is once again asking the public to pose questions directly to President Obama via its ‘Open For Questions‘ service. The topic of this week’s forum is the national economy, and not surprisingly, many of you have already put forward questions to the President regarding the taxation and regulation of cannabis.
For example, the most popular question in the category “Budget” is: “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?”
Similarly, under the topic “Financial Stability,” most asked question is: “Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislature to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?”
Marijuana-related questions also top the “Green Jobs and Energy” category, and are among the top vote-getters on the site overall.
According to website, President Obama will “answer some of the most popular submissions live at WhiteHouse.gov” on Thursday morning. That means that we only have a few more hours left to contact the White House.
Please take a moment right now to log on the WhiteHouse.gov/OpenForQuestions and vote for the questions above, as well as others pertaining to the need to regulate cannabis. Let the President know that millions of American voters believe that the time has come to tax and regulate marijuana. Help us send The White House a message our elected leaders can’t ignore.