O-Blow-Off: Obama Site Ducks Marijuana Reform Questions (Again!)

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 12, 2009

    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.

    45 responses to “O-Blow-Off: Obama Site Ducks Marijuana Reform Questions (Again!)”

    1. alex says:

      Looking forward to Friday. hopefully this can stir some sense into Obama and the mainstream about marijuana

    2. Justin says:

      This serious conversation is highly anticipated by tons of people. The only thing im afraid of is the same cliche responses of the harm of marijuana law reform.

      They need to relize the looooooooooong list of benifits.

      Someday I wish I could sit down with “congress/president/lawmaker” have them tell me every reason why it should be illegal. Ive heard it ALL and got scientific/personal/medic/industrial answers to every con they think they can say.

      If they would stop dodging the questions and finally have a serious honest talk backed up with the past 15 years or so of data and statistics since they seem to throw those at us all the time, to show them the real facts.

    3. BEANO says:

      I am growing extremely frustrated that the future administration is calling for extreme change in our country, and when an issue comes up that they don’t want to touch, they simply ignore it and throw it aside. The reason they aren’t putting their answer so clearly is that they’re afraid that the issue would ruin Obama’s future presidency re-election… that’s what it always is. He may nationally recognize medical use, but I honestly don’t think he’ll consider legalizing recreational use until his second term (if that happens).

      Legalizing marijuana would have nothing but positive effects in our nation (provided that drugged driving laws are passed nationally as well). 820,000 responsible non-violent Americans would be free of having their lives and reputation ruined because they had a joint in their pocket, and the nation would be BILLIONS richer (enough where Marijuana alone would pay off the $700 billion bailout over time). This shouldn’t even be an issue. Marijuana is not dangerous, and when left illegal, allows the black market to reap billions of dollars in benefits instead of our government.

      I’ll be honest: I was not in favor of legalization until 1.) I tried it (LOL) and 2.) after I learned the undisputed facts of marijuana. The thing we need to do is keep pushing the issue and do not give up. Keep this issue as #1 on change.org and get constant media coverage and non-profit support on the issue. We need to let our voices be heard.

    4. Troy - Free your mind says:

      My optimism on this issue is fading fast.

    5. Jim says:

      Politicians do not legalize marijuana for a reason. It is because of the many hundreds of billions of dollars made in it’s prohibition. This number is from the totals of oil, pharmaceutical death pills, prison industry, police state rolls, and confirmed CIA involvement in drug smuggling(hey, what do you think Iran/Contra was all about?).
      However, with a collapsed currency, growing dissent from joblessness, the criminal continuation of trickle-down economics, etc., they may not have much choice. Personally, I think we are in grave danger of revolution in this country. There is a large faction of our citizenry who believe, as I do, that this depression was intentional. Legalizing marijuana would go a long ways toward restoring faith in the system again. ‘At least the states are beginning to assert their rights again. I believe this is where reform will come from. States have to deal with the dissent on a more personal level. And many states are broke already, with no federal ability to apply real and substantial relief. After all, the next cash infusion is only going to hasten the demise of the currency by devaluing it to the point of ridiculousness anyway.

    6. The Oracle says:

      Either they have something in the back room about legalization in order to get the tax revenues and allow the private sector to create jobs in the cannabis trade or change, as far as cannabis is concerned to them, is merely defined as changing the people who keep everything the same. Obama’s definition of change: Changing the people who maintain marijuana prohibition, which at its core essentially the basis for new institutionalized racism that results in more people of color being disenfranchised because they are caught up in the criminal justice system. Show some freakin’ balls, man! Do not cave in to the prohibitionists!

    7. Anonymous says:


      Now there is a citizens briefing book. We need to push marijuana reform to the top!

    8. Adam says:

      Another new feature on Obama’s website allows longer proposals to be made. Here is one I just posted:


    9. R says:

      I have two suggestions.

      1) Obviously, certain people are not taking their request seriously by looking at the results of the very poll that they put out there for the people have a say in what they want. As far as I am concerned, those people on the hill work for us, not the other way around.It does not matter what “they” want, its what “we” want that matters.

      2) Obama could end this very easy. He could say that this is something that the federal government does not need to enforce. That said, he should just have cannibis removed as a federal schedule I drug, and then push it off onto the states to determine what to do. Obama said, if I am not mistaken that he wanted the citizens to be more involved, well this would be a first step in the citizens in deciding on what is best for them.

    10. Cadence says:

      “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?”

      this is what ive been saying forever!