open for questions

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 29, 2008

    Change.gov, the official website of President-Elect Obama, has reopened its online polling page, “Open for Questions.” Of course we all know what happened the last time the incoming administration asked the public to decide what issue should be America’s top priority. And we’re all well aware of Obama’s less than favorable reply.

    That said, the fact that the legalization of marijuana finished first out of over 7,000 questions polled generated significant media coverage, including features by Fox News (watch the video here), Esquire, and The Hill.  So let’s keep the media and the soon-to-be President’s feet to the fire and continue to push the debate.

    Currently, over 25,000 public policy questions have been submitted to Obama’s website. Dozens of these questions pertain to cannabis law reform. Right now, the leading vote-getter among these (with 2,000 votes) is:

    “Why do you believe that marijuana should not be legalized? How is the prohibition of marijuana any different than the prohibition of alcohol? 100,000 Americans die every year due to alcohol but none to marijuana.”

    Please take a moment and log onto the Change.gov site to voice your support for this question, and others pertaining to the need to end America’s antiquated and punitive prohibition of marijuana. (To vote for this and other popular marijuana law reform questions, click on the “additional issues” link or perform a word search using the term “marijuana.”) The people spoke once before; it’s time we make our voices heard again!

    “Change we can believe in?” We shall see.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 15, 2008

    Capitol Hill is talking about cannabis, again!

    Earlier today The Hill‘s influential Congress Blog posted my commentary:

    Legalizing Marijuana Tops Obama Online Poll
    via The Hill

    Last week, the website Change.gov — the official website of the Obama Transition Team — asked the public to provide them with a list of the top public policy questions facing America. Visitors to the site were then asked to vote on which questions should take priority for the incoming administration.

    According to the website, “participation … outpaced our expectations. … Since its launch … the Open for Questions tool has processed over 600,000 votes from more than 10,000 people on more than 7,300 questions.”

    Ironically but perhaps not surprisingly the top question for the new administration — as chosen by the general public — was one most politicians seem utterly unwilling to talk about.

    “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”

    … So will Obama’s team respond to the demands of the electorate and initiate an honest, objective, and long-overdue review of U.S. marijuana policies? Or will the incoming administration — like the outgoing one — hide their collective heads in the sand?

    As we’ve noted before, The Hill is widely read by lawmakers and by the national media; it is vital that we demonstrate the popularity of the marijuana legalization issue by commenting prolifically. Please post your feedback to The Hill and make a point of disseminating this essay to your friends and colleagues.

    (Note: Comments to The Hill are moderated. That means that there will be a delay, sometimes a significant delay, between when you post and when your comment appears live online. That said, all comments will eventually be published. As you can see, my last Hill essay received over 200 comments, one of the highest totals ever received by The Hill on any topic!)

    Finally, please take a moment to drop a note to your local news outlet highlighting the results of Obama’s online poll. Currently, this issue is reverberating throughout the blogosphere, but with your help, we can make this a mainstream news story as well.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 12, 2008

    Marijuana is #1.

    To follow up on yesterday’s post, change.gov (the website of President-Elect Obama’s transition team) has now closed the webpage “Open for Questions.”

    NORML wishes to thank all of you who took the time to visit the website and demanded the incoming administration to reform America’s marijuana laws.

    Your message got through loud and clear.

    After receiving nearly 100,000 total votes on more than 10,000 separate public policy issues, the most widely voted on question for Obama is:

    Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?

    (Equally impressive, 16 of the top 50 overall questions posed to the new administration pertained to drug law reform. Now do we have your attention?)

    According to the latest update on the Change.gov site, “Over the next few days, some of the most popular questions selected by the Change.gov community will be answered by the Transition team, and their responses will be posted here on the site.”

    So does this mean that the Obama will post a response to the public’s outcry for tangible marijuana law reform? Or will the incoming administration choose to remain silent on the one progressive issue that the American public, but not their elected official, is ‘buzzing’ about?

    Meanwhile, over at the website Change.org (which is not affiliated with the Obama administration), your votes (Nearly 2,500 of them as of this morning) have made the question, Should we legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana? the top rated idea on the website!

    According to the site, there will be a second round of voting (this first round ends on December 31, 2008) in January to determine which top 10 ideas are presented to the Obama administration on Inauguration Day.

    Finally, over at the highly popular website Digg.com, over 2,500 visitors have added their support for making marijuana law reform a key platform of the incoming administration. You can join the discussion here.

    It was just over a month ago when statewide marijuana law reform initiatives in Massachusetts and Michigan prevailed with more votes than America’s soon-to-be 44th President — once again reaffirming the widespread popular support for changing our nation’s antiquated and punitive pot laws. It wasn’t clear that either the national media or the incoming administration was listening then. Are they listening now?

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director December 11, 2008

    The website of President-Elect Barack Obama, www.change.gov, has added a new feature that allows visitors to submit and vote on specific public policy questions. Not surprisingly, over 130 separate questions have already been added to the site demanding the incoming administration to reform America’s failed marijuana laws.

    Of these, one of the most widely voted on questions for Obama is: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”

    So far, votes are running more than 2 to 1 in support of legalizing marijuana. Pete Guither over at drugwarrant (Thanks for the tip!) reports that the question ranks in the top 30 of all questions submitted to the Obama website.

    If you haven’t done so already, considering logging on to the website at:


    Type “marijuana” in the search questions box and tell the incoming administration to enact sensible marijuana law reform, including: ending the federal raids on state-authorized medical marijuana patients, and taxing and regulating the personal use of marijuana by adults.

    Please note: Change.gov is not affiliated with the website Change.org, which is also accepting votes whether the new administration should “legalize the medicinal and recreational use of marijuana.” (Be patient; page is slow to download.) As I noted yesterday on NORML’s blog, cannabis legalization is the is the top vote-getter of all criminal justice related questions on the site, which intends to present the top 10 ideas to the Obama Administration on Inauguration Day.

    As the old saying goes, “Things are starting to get very interesting…”

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