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White House

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

    FRIDAY UPDATE!!!

    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.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 23, 2009

    There may be a new president, but in DEA-land, it’s still business as usual — at least for the time being.

    On Thursday, just two days after President Barack Obama was sworn into office, DEA officials raided the office of a California medical marijuana provider, as well as two medical grow houses in Colorado.

    Is this behavior the final gasp of a dying regime, or an unfortunate harbinger of things to come? That could be up to you.

    Several marijuana law reform groups, including Americans for Safe Access and MPP — as well as national media outlets — are urging concerned citizens to contact the new administration in opposition to the DEA’s actions.

    Call or e-mail the White House and tell Obama’s staff that our new President must honor his campaign pledge not to use Justice Department resources to circumvent state medical marijuana laws.

    In the coming months, President Obama and his team will be appointing new DEA administrators.  Congress will also be holding additional hearings regarding Obama’s pick for U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder. Let’s make it clear to the President, now, that the DEA’s behavior is unacceptable and must not continue under an Obama administration.

    Let’s make yesterday’s raids the last acts of a morally and fiscally bankrupt federal policy. Act now.

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director December 20, 2008

    Is saving the Drug Czar nominee as the last cabinet pick indicative of the low priority assigned by the incoming Obama administration to the so-called ‘war on drugs’?

    obama_youth_04.jpg

    With the entire cabinet nominated (save for US Ambassador to the United Nations and director of the Central Intelligence Agency), who is President–elect Obama going to nominate as director of the Office Of National Drug Control Policy (a.k.a. ‘Drug Czar’).

    To date, Obama and Co. have prioritized the cabinet nominations of:

    Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Treasury, Secretary of Homeland Security, Attorney General, Secretary of Interior, Secretary of Commerce, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Secretary of Education, Secretary of Agriculture, Secretary of Transportation, Secretary of Labor, Secretary of Environmental Protection Agency, Secretary of Veteran Affairs, National Security Adviser, Director of National Intelligence, Director of National Economic Council, Director of Securities and Exchange Commission, US Trade Representative and Director of Office of Management and Budget.

    But no Drug Czar (or Czarina)!

    Obama told the media yesterday that his entire cabinet would be nominated before he is to begin his last semi-sane holiday break this week with his family. But as of 10AM this morning (eastern), there has been no nominee announced for ‘Drug Czar’.

    Hmmmmm. One wonders why not?

    Looks like one reputed nominee for Drug Czar, retiring Republican congressman Jim Ramstad of Minnesota is getting hung up in the political vetting process. Some in the media and in drug policy reform inform NORML that Atlanta police chief Richard J. Pennington might emerge as the potential nominee. Some speculate that current Drug Czar transition team leader, Dr. Don Vereen, might pull a ‘Cheney’ and offer himself up as the best person to head the ONDCP.

    Whatever the case and whomever the nominee, is the ONDCP nominee and their staff going to closely adhere to Obama’s stated goal that health (and environmental) policy-making in his administration, unlike the current Bush White House, will be guided by contemporary and credible science—and not ideology or politics?

    In Obama’s now weekly radio address, he asserted this morning that science and rational thinking is going to instruct much of his decision-making in the realms of education, public health and environmental protection. To demonstrate such, this morning Obama nominated two prominent scientists—not political hacks—to fill important science policy-making roles in his new administration (Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).

    “Because the truth is that promoting science isn’t just about providing resources – it’s about protecting free and open inquiry. It’s about ensuring that facts and evidence are never twisted or obscured by politics or ideology. It’s about listening to what our scientists have to say, even when it’s inconvenient – especially when it’s inconvenient. Because the highest purpose of science is the search for knowledge, truth and a greater understanding of the world around us. That will be my goal as President of the United States.”
    -President-elect Barack Obama (December 20, 2008)

    NORML certainly hopes that Obama’s professed support for science over political ideology logically extends to repairing and overhauling the country’s totally flawed and decidedly unscientific approach in administering a functional and economical criminal justice system—fueled in large part by antiquated and misguided illicit drug laws, notably the abject failure of 70 plus years of cannabis prohibition laws.

    In the interim, please join me (and thousands of other drug policy reform supporters), with a bit-of-tongue-in-cheek, in advancing Drug Policy Alliance director Ethan Nadelmann, Ph.D as Obama’s next Drug Czar. Now that is change I can believe in!

    Who President-elect Obama nominates for Drug Czar I believe will strongly demonstrate whether or not he genuinely believes in science as a guiding principle in replacing failed, feckless, racist and politically expedient law enforcement efforts to ‘control’ drugs with, ultimately, effective, commonsense, scientific and public health-based alternatives to America’s failed war on some drugs.

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