As reported here and elsewhere, voter mandated state legalization of cannabis possession in US states Washington and Colorado, has brought about enormous pressure to change federal policy. Charles Pierce, writing in Esquire well expresses the quizzical drug war actions of the Obama presidency. Pierce notes, “the results in Colorado and in Washington state – and, to a lesser extent, in Massachusetts – indicate that the political salience of the “war on drugs,” as applied to marijuana, at least, almost has completely evaporated.”
So far in his presidency, Obama has brushed aside numerous questions about drug policy and marijuana decriminalization with bemused disdain. One of his first presidential acts was to renominate GW Bush appointee and marijuana hardliner Michele Leonhart to head the DEA. He chose as his vice president long time drug war villain, Joe Biden. He has watched silently while the DEA, federal attorneys and other “public safety” agencies with self-serving anti-cannabis agendas dismantle thriving, tax-paying dispensary businesses in California and subjecting southern Oregon farms to brutal federal forfeiture.
Finally, powerful and respected voices are calling him out on this key budgetary, medical and personal freedom issue:
Sir Richard Branson, one of the world’s most intelligent and wealthy men, is a passionate advocate of drug law reform and ending prohibition of cannabis. He advises that the will Washington and Colorado voters should be respected. Sir Richard is disgusted by the fact that, “The U.S. currently spends no less than $51 billion — per year — on the war on drugs. That’s double what Apple profited last year. It’s a horribly depressing number.” President Obama, you are looking for ways to cut useless federal spending, Hello, they are staring you in the face.
Politically, its, like, WTF? The 2012 election showed the overwhelming importance of the youth vote (or lack of it, in the case of Republicans). President Obama, marijuana legalization got more votes than you did in Colorado. American voters now favor marijuana legalization, overwhelmingly in the case of medical cannabis. Any action you take now to free Americans from these vicious and destructive Schedule I penalties will be leading from behind, far behind current American public opinion.
You should thank your lucky stars that you were not caught and caged when you enjoyed pot as a youth. If you had been caught, the highest White House employment you could have hoped for would have been janitor, although you would probably have been denied entrance for even that. With the simple stroke of a pen, you as president could reschedule cannabis, away from the current draconian Schedule I, hopefully away from the DEA altogether. Never could so much justice be accomplished, so easily.
Will you instead, Mr. President unleash the dogs of war, drug war, to crush state infrastructures and private citizens? Actually, with draconian Schedule I in place, along with hardliners in power at the DEA and as federal prosecutors, the misdirected, counterproductive federal war on cannabis will continue on its own, unless specially reined in. Writing in Salon, posted on Alternet, Alex Pareene nails it, “Here’s what I know: The DEA is full of people who went to go work for the DEA, and the Justice Department is full of prosecutors. Professional drug warriors, shockingly, are drug warriors. The Pentagon, similarly, is staffed with a lot of people who like dropping bombs and firing missiles, and every postwar president has ended up doing quite a bit of both once in office, no matter what they said they’d do before they were elected. The American state’s brutal machinery of death and prosecution is difficult to slow or stop “. On this issue President Obama seems every bit as sharp as he did in the first debate. But, now he could go the other way.
Act now, Mr. President, for harm reduction. Free young men and women, black, brown and white from the crushing personal and legal blow of a useless, tragically counterproductive marijuana arrest. Reduce the drug war prison Gulag. Help balance the budget by defunding the drug war and disbanding the DEA. Gain young voters for your political party. Enter the 21st century. Soften the fiscal cliff. Strike Schedule I from cannabis and end the idiotic war on marijuana.