Much has been written about President Obama’s cannabis use during his youth, the hope he presented for cannabis law reform and the betrayal felt by the cannabis community when that hope was squashed by SWAT raids, civil forfeiture proceedings, egregious IRS policies, the loss of Second Amendment rights of medical cannabis patients, and even attacks on the First Amendment rights of publications advertising medical cannabis services. Recently, while President Obama made a fund-raising swing thru the West Coast, the cannabis community was sure to publicize this betrayal and urge the President to adhere to his campaign promise and respect state cannabis laws.
Cannabis activists were joined by several other activist groups, on both the left and the right. Causes ranged from banning assault weapons to closing down Gitmo to ending the use of coal to ending Obamacare. Respecting state cannabis laws was an issue that united activists on both the left and the right. For those on the left, respecting state cannabis laws demonstrates, among other things, compassion for patients. For those on the right, allowing states to determine their own cannabis laws boils down to a states’ rights issue; they don’t want the federal government infringing on the decision of the states and their voters.
President Obama would be wise to adhere to his campaign promise and make a pledge to respect state cannabis laws. Polls demonstrate that ending federal interference with state cannabis laws is good politics as a super-majority of voters want the feds to leave medical cannabis states alone. But more important than politics is being true to yourself. Clearly, someone who was a member of the Choom Gang, noted to intercept joints during smoking sessions supports the use of medical cannabis. By allowing states to follow their own path on cannabis law, President Obama would be following what he presumably once believed, and the American people would respect that.
Mitt Romney, with his resume and the state of our economy, should be running away with this election, but the fact that he doesn’t seem to know what he really believes in causes people to distrust him. The big advantage that President Obama has is his likable personality. That likability will only continue to erode if he continues to be pressed on why the federal government continues to waste resources meddling in the affairs of people conducting themselves legally and with deference to their states’ laws. His winning personality won’t seem so winning if the federal government continues to launch paramilitary SWAT raids in states that helped elect (and possibly re-elect) him.
President Obama is in a tough race, much tougher than his race in 2008, and to win, he needs his base supporters energized. He not only needs his base to vote for him, but he needs them to donate money, volunteer and urge others to vote for him. Much of his base on the West Coast will not be going the extra mile for him if he continues to interfere with state cannabis laws. If re-elected, he still needs his base enthusiastic, as the Republicans will likely still be trying to obstruct his agenda in hopes of tarnishing his legacy. President Obama will need his base to urge legislators to back the President’s agenda. His base won’t be calling their congressional leaders if they aren’t motivated to do so and a continuation of the trampling of the will of the voters in California, Oregon, Washington and Colorado will not motivate his base.
We aren’t asking for the world from President Obama. We aren’t asking him to champion a cannabis legalization bill or even a medical cannabis legalization bill. We aren’t asking for any bill. We are merely asking President Obama to adhere to his campaign promise to respect state cannabis laws. We are the Choomers for Change. And we know that, deep down, you are still one of us, Mr. President.
This article was published with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition