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When Will President Obama Have His Marijuana Moment?

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obama marijuanaObama Needs To Follow Up Words With Actions If He Ever Wants The Support Of The Marijuana Movement

By Kaliko Castille, National Cannabis Radio

Marc Ambinder writing for GQ has what they’re calling an “exclusive”; quoting Obama aides and associates as saying that if President Obama wins reelection, he’ll pivot his focus to the catastrophic failure of the War on Drugs. Of course, by the end of the piece Ambinder says the marijuana legalization community should not expect the President to come out in favor of legalization before November.

I disagree, and this is why. If you’ve been watching the Obama reelection campaign shape up over the last few months, you would see them trying to solidify their base, in order to get them motivated to get out and vote in November. When the DREAM Act stalled out in the Congress, President Obama took to the Rose Garden to announce an executive order that would halt the deportation of over 800,000 young people. In May, he also announced his support for gay marriage. Although, his support for gay marriage did not equal a legislative victory, its power as an issue was intensified when spoken from behind the bully pulpit. These moves have bothhelped improve polling numbers amongst Democrats, and even swing voters in battleground states. Prior to these public gestures, there was a lot of speculation about whether the Latino and LGBTQ community had been left in the cold.

Many in the marijuana community will make the case that President Obama is not to be trusted. To be fair, he has overseen a federal crackdown on state sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries (executing more DEA raids than Bush) , after pledging in 2008 to not dedicate scarce Justice Department resources to circumventing state laws. The Obama administration has also held several online forums where marijuana legalization was one of the top questions asked by the public. He called it a legitimate topic for debate, while laughing at those who are ready to have the debate. This has left an understandably bitter taste in the mouths of the marijuana reform activists.

Even though marijuana legalization still seems to be a topic that the Obama administration is afraid of, I think we could see Obama have his marijuana moment before November. It will require a summer of pressure on the part of our movement, but with Colorado and Washington State (and possibly Oregon) already preparing to vote on legalization this summer, it will become impossible for the administration to run away from marijuana as a mainstream issue. Last year, Gallup announced 50% support nationwide for marijuana legalization for the first time ever, a recent Rasmussen poll shows that number inching towards 56% support.

Marijuana legalization has not only been growing stronger amongst public opinion polling nationwide, it has now become a winning political issue in Democratic primary politics (even a platform issue in Colorado, Texas and Montana). On May 15th, the marijuana reform community of Oregon managed to make history by electing Ellen Rosenblum as the state’s first woman Attorney General, in a race that centered around medical marijuana. Several organizations ran ads attacking Rosenblum’s opponent for calling Oregon’s voter approved medical marijuana program a “trainwreck”, which ultimately led to his defeat. Just a couple weeks after what I consider to be a tipping point in Democratic politics, Beto O’Rourke managed to pull off one of the biggest upsets in recent memory. Without running away from his position that the drug war is a failure, and the main cause for violence on the border, he unseated eight-term Congressman Silvestre Reyes in a race that made national headlines.

After watching two democratic primary races that made national headlines from their association with the growing debate over marijuana, even darlings of the Democratic party are beginning to see their political futures shaped by marijuana policies. Andrew Cuomo, the current governor of New York came out last month in favor of decriminalizing 25 grams of marijuana, with the support of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. Unfortunately, the Republican controlled state senate killed the bill, but it does not change the fact that Governor Cuomo, who comes from a political dynasty (and possibly eyeing the 2016 Democratic Presidential nomination) decided to use his political capital on this issue. In the President’s home town of Chicago (also the home of his reelection campaign), its Mayor (and former Obama Chief of Staff) Rahm Emanuel also came out for decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Emanuel’s proposal to decriminalize 15 grams was passed overwhelmingly few days later by the city council, in a 43-3 vote.

President Obama can’t even leave the country to get away from talking about marijuana legalization. In April, he attended the Summit of the Americas with 30 heads of state from around Central and South America. There he was confronted about the disastrous War on Drugs by the Latin American leaders, including President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, where they recently decriminalized small amounts of cocaine and marijuana. Since then, there has continued to be movement on this front. Uruguayan President José Mujica announced on Friday Uruguay’s plans to decriminalize personal amounts of cocaine and marijuana. Internationally, Latin American politicians seem to be leading the way with alternative solutions to controlling the flow of drugs. It probably has something to do with 40 years of the DEA and other U.S. agencies meddling in Latin American countries, and 50,000 dead just south of the Mexican border within the last six years.

It seems everywhere you look these days there is a marijuana headline staring you in the face. Will the next one be “Obama’s Marijuana Moment”? As the reelection campaign starts to look at November’s landscape, and sees that Obama has two (maybe three) states in the West with medical marijuana programs and legalization on the ballot, they are going to have to make a decision. Support marijuana legalization because of the monumental waste of resources spent on its prohibition and its effect on civil liberties; or ignore the groundswell that began with grassroots activists and led support to from city halls and statehouses in some of the most populated areas, and be on the wrong side of history. Knowing that President Obama ultimately cares about his place in history, if our movement can keep up the pressure (much like Latinos and LGBTQ did) through the summer, I think we’ll see movement before November. If he wants our movement’s enthusiastic support, it is the only option.

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43 Comments

  1. eating_sunshine on

    Give fast and furious Obama an inch and he will take a mile. Even though Romney is firmly and irrationally against legalization, he supports states rights more than Obama does. That means Romney would probably raid legal Medical establishments less than the thug from Chicago will.
    But voting for a third party would send more of a message than voting for either of these hypocrites.

  2. Great article. This war on drugs is ridiculous and, honestly, its time the States MADE money from marijuana and used it towards making Americas failing education better so we can make SMARTER choices for ourselves.

  3. Marijuana decriminalization and legalization will be a disaster for this country if it were to happen. Marijuana use among children has skyrocketed over the last 10 years, and these policies will only increase usage among children. America doesn’t need another legal intoxicant, we already have two that do great damage to people’s health and well-being. I am confident President Obama will not have a “Marijuana moment”.

  4. it’s funny that you say that because you have no idea what you are talking about. making marijuana legal would regulate it just like alcohol is today. when i was younger…it was easier to find marijuana than it was to find someone to get me alcohol. your idea to keep it out of the hands of children is ignorant. how many drug dealers asked kids..can i see some ID?

  5. Obama must hate marijuana or love donations from police unions, big pharma, and big booze companies. Just legalize marijuana! It is much better for people than prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco or bad illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, and meth. Great e-book on medical marijuana: MARIJUANA – Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints.

  6. I hope he has a CANNABIS moment, many people today forget about hemp; If we were to just legalize cannabis all together we’de be able to stop ruining peoples families and lives for consuming a harmless plant at the same time start farming hemp wherever it’ll grow and benefit from the food, fuel, building products. Similar to wood from trees, but stronger and it doesn’t harm the environment to farm it. 37 countries already grow it including Canada.

  7. **Mario Cuomo=Andrew Cuomo. Mario was Andrew’s Dad, but also another NY Governor.

  8. COULD’T HAVE SAID IT BETTER MYSELF LIKE YOUR STYLE FUCK BOTH OF THEM AND VOTE JOHNSON HE WILL TALK SHIT AND TAKE NAMES

  9. You’re a brave fellow. — In the Netherlands, where adults are allowed to possess and sell small amounts of marijuana, they have HALF the rate of marijuana use as the U.S. Forbidden fruit is a strong attraction.
    America – and the world – already have marijuana. It’s not going anywhere.
    http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/06/29/marijuana-now-the-most-popular-drug-in-the-world/
    The fraudulent prohibition has never accomplished one positive thing – especially not a reduction in consumption.
    Marijuana consumption has no signficant harms.

  10. Thanks for pointing out the failure of marijuana prohibition to keep marijuana away from our youth. Continuation of the same failed policies is not best for our kids. Regulation and taxation is a better approach.

    That is why in Washington we are trying a new approach which we feel is in the be in the best interests of youth. Please see the brochure, “What about kids? Questions Parents Ask About Marijuana Legalization” written by I-502 sponsors, Dr.’s Roger Roffman and Robert Wood, at the FAQ’s of the New Approach Washington website.

  11. ignoremei'mhigh on

    how funny would it be if our first black president was the one to legalise marijuana. think of the stereotypes.

    what am i talking about i’m australian

  12. Even if Obama has his MJ moment or not. My vote in November is a vote committed to peace, fiscal responsibility, LGBT rights, realistic immigration solutions and sanity. Not for a fourth term or George W. Bush policies. Gary Johnson 2012.

  13. Seriously? You wouldn’t vote for someone because they probably won’t win? that’s like telling a baby not to try and learn to walk because they’re probably going to fall…

  14. What do you think of the minimum wage?

    Do you think the federal government ought to inspect and maintain a minimum level of safety in coal mines?

    Should your child be able to get a federal Pell Grant or low-interest Stafford Loan to attend college?

    What do you think about a 23% national sales tax in exchange for elimination of payroll and income taxes?

    Do you have an elderly relative currently using Medicare and Social Security?

    Are you for or against a streamlined work visa program that will make it far easier for cheap Mexican labor to work in America?

    Just wondering if you bothered to read any of the Johnson/Gray positions besides “legalize marijuana”.

  15. JohnnyBloomington on

    Even so, Johnson isn’t going to get rid of all the above. No president gets their full agenda even after 2 terms. The congress would block any attempt to change Social security like with Bush in his first term or any other issues. That leaves some issues Johnson can change, The War on Drugs!

  16. Good points, Russ. These are issues I have been struggling with, since I am traditionally liberal, but am now a Johnson supporter. From what I have read about Johnson, he is not going to leave anyone in the lurch. People that are nearing the age of Social Security will get it, and a painless transition will be effected for others.

    The sense I get is that Johnson would not simply trash programs without making sure something as good, or better would take it’s place.

    Plus, Johnson would certainly not get everything on his wish list. Bush found out what a mistake it is attacking Social Security.

    You say marijuana reform should not be the only reason to vote for Johnson. I believe there are MANY other reasons to vote for him. The primary one is Obama, and the Democrats have shown there is little difference between them and the Republicans. They have become totally corrupt and in the pocket of the one percent.

    Obama continues the wars, the persecution of marijuana consumers, bailing out the banks instead of the people, the HUGE attacks on our freedom from Patriot Act and similar horrendous underminings of our liberty and privacy.

    The two mainstream parties are hauling us rapidly toward a police state. They work for the one percent, and cannot be trusted in the least degree.

    I have followed Johnson’s career for many years, and I believe he is extremely honest, would have a transparent administration, and would work for the 99 percent. He already has a great track record as governor of New Mexico.

    So, I suppose it’s a matter of how desperate you think our current situation is. I believe it is dire.

    I think it would be a great idea if we could get Johnson on a public forum to address the concerns many of us have about Libertarian policies. Remember, Johnson was a Republican, until they pushed him out of the process.

    I believe he transcends the Libertarian Party, and would be a big net improvement over what’s going on today.

  17. Excuse me, but WHERE did Radical Russ’s and my conversation about Gary Johnson go?

  18. We are moving to a new, high powered server so some of the comments from the last hour or so may have vanished for a min, but they should all be back now

  19. read all his positions dont give a fuck if they legalize it or not dont smoke anyway just tired of there bull shit want to take my country back u got something better just say so and i’ll look it to it just dont ask me to vote 4 the shit that got us to this point

  20. Hey Kaliko….you have an incorrect statement.

    It was COLUMBIA on Friday which announced decrim of pot and coke. NOT Uruguay.

    Click on the link, and it leads to the article about Columbia, not Uruguay.

    Nice blog post, by the way.

  21. Radical russ the dipshit who thinks obummers gonna do.something about pot because why?…….

  22. Nothing u ever say makes since u dipshit. Ur a fuckin joke wishim obamas gonna help u.wen he lied and said he couldnt.
    Id heard russ wads a.dumbass. Now I.know.for sure

  23. Never cuz y the fuck would just say he couldnt do shit without congress. Jesus christ u ppl .are
    Fucking stupid

  24. You’re a real nice person, aren’t ya? The biggest impediment to getting legalization is not the politicians, it’s marijuana community. If we actually organized and got involved in electoral politics, this would already be over.

  25. This issue might have been brought to the forefront in a Democratic primary race, but since we don’t seem to be having one of those I strongly doubt the issue will present itself in a Romney v. Obama contest. I’d really like to be wrong about this.

  26. No. The biggest impediment to re-legalization is the marijuana-prohibition-industrial-complex. The corruption runs deep and wide.

  27. He might ‘pivot his focus’ might not necessarily be a positive thing. He might be introducing a policy of crackdowns and long stays in FEMA camps in the Arizona desert for all we know.

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