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President Obama's Puzzling Silence on MJ Policy
Posted by CN Staff on December 18, 2011 at 04:17:06 PT
By Neal Peirce, Syndicated Columnist
Source: Seattle Times
Washington -- "Dance with the One that Brought You" is the title of a well-known song. But the Urban Dictionary offers a deeper meaning: "The principle that someone should pay proper fealty to those who have gone out of their way to look after them."Barack Obama should pay attention. In 2008, young voters were enthused and turned out for him by the millions. But now? The campus/youth enthusiasm factor has declined sharply. The deficiency seriously imperils Obama's re-election effort.
There's one issue, though, that might reignite youthful enthusiasm. That issue is marijuana  partly its medical use, but especially Americans' right to recreational use free of potential arrest and possible prison time.Today's grim reality is that police continue to arrest youth for marijuana possession by the hundreds of thousands. But each arrest is a red flag of danger, threatening life prospects for a young man or woman suddenly saddled with a permanent "drug arrest" record that's easily located by employers, landlords, schools, credit agencies and banks.Small wonder then that 62 percent of young Americans (ages 18 to 29) now favor legalizing marijuana, as a Gallup poll reported.And it's not just youth these days. Gallup this year found 50 percent nationwide support for legalizing marijuana use  the most ever, up from a measly 12 percent in 1969 to 30 percent in 2000 and 40 percent in 2009.A ballot measure to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana received 46.5 percent of the vote in California last year. Parallel measures are likely to be on the 2012 ballots in Colorado and Washington. Odd political bedfellows  Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Ron Paul, R-Texas  recently introduced a legalization bill and now have 19 co-sponsors. Paul even gets applause advocating legalization in Republican presidential debates.But what about President Obama? In 2004 he endorsed marijuana decriminalization. He was candid about his early pot use and in 2006 told a group of magazine editors: "When I was a kid, I inhaled, frequently." By his run for president in 2008, he was slipping away from decriminalization but at least talked of a "public health" approach, emphasizing drug treatment instead of prison, giving drug-reform advocates hope for a new day in national policy.But Obama as president has been a clear disappointment to reform forces. In White House-initiated electronic town halls, respondents  heavily weighted to original Obama supporters  have repeatedly put marijuana at the top of their issue lists. But the White House has either laughed off or provided dismissive retorts.Obama's Drug Policy Office claims the drug war is over, replaced by a focus on shrinking demand, "innovative, compassionate and evidence-based drug policies." But Obama has not once singled out marijuana  a substance arguably far less harmful to the human body than alcohol  for special consideration. Nor has he spoken to the harm to youth caused by 800,000 yearly arrests. Or moved to stem the billions of dollars a year spent on marijuana-related arrests.This is clearly not the "change" Obama's enthusiastic supporters of 2008 expected. And it's deeply ironic. Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance notes that if local police departments had been enforcing marijuana laws as harshly in the early 1980s as many do today, "there's a good chance a young Columbia student named Barack Obama could have been picked up  and not be in the White House today."Nadelmann suggests that both the White House Drug Policy Office and the Justice Department enforcement divisions have been "co-opted" by holdover appointees deeply invested in anti-marijuana rhetoric and "let's just bust them" drug enforcement.Facing the 2012 election, Obama is not likely to advocate, suddenly, marijuana decriminalization. But he could announce that it's time for a serious national dialogue on the issue, and that it will be a hallmark of his second term. He could express his dismay that 800,000 people, mostly young (and heavily black and Hispanic), are being arrested each year for marijuana possession  even as 50 percent of Americans favor legalization. He could focus on the massive costs of enforcement, the deep social costs of imprisonment. Let all America, youth included, join in the debate, he could urge.A new openness to marijuana reform could help to reignite, on campuses and among high numbers of young people, the hope for "change" that really means something. Perhaps even prospects for the president's own re-election.Neal Peirce's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. Source: Seattle Times (WA)Author: Neal Peirce, Syndicated ColumnistPublished: December 17, 2011Copyright: 2011 The Seattle Times CompanyContact: opinion seatimes.comWebsite: http://www.seattletimes.com/URL: http://drugsense.org/url/K2ppKGNbCannabisNews -- Cannabis Archiveshttp://cannabisnews.com/news/list/cannabis.shtml 
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Comment #16 posted by Oleg the Tumor on December 21, 2011 at 08:23:36 PT:
                josephlacerenza
Thank You! Highly recommended to all.Its like the flip side of the 5th Amendment.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #15 posted by josephlacerenza on December 20, 2011 at 18:25:28 PT
Jury Nullification
Jury Nullification
Great piece by the NY Times! We need to get this word out! PLEASE share!!! http://tinyurl.com/7cps9ov
Jurors Need to Know That They Can Say No
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #14 posted by FoM on December 20, 2011 at 11:15:11 PT
John Tyler
I watched all of the videos and they were very good. Barney Frank did a great job.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #13 posted by FoM on December 20, 2011 at 09:34:38 PT
CropReport
I'm way over 21 but it would be fun. I do hope we don't stall. We have so many states that haven't even reduced the penalties on marijuana and we need to see progress in those states too.
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Comment #12 posted by CropReport on December 20, 2011 at 09:22:55 PT
Stalled? Ummm, no.
FoM "I think we have stalled as far as reform goes. Maybe we have done all there is to do."http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/aboutWe have 150,000 signatures in-hand and very broad support throughout the state.Come to Colorado in January of 2013 and I'll buy you a legal doobie. That is IF you're 21 or over :) -Crop
http://www.regulatemarijuana.org/about
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #11 posted by dongenero on December 20, 2011 at 08:20:05 PT
  John Tyler #8
Thanks for that link JT. Wow.Great contrast of the political ideologies, and Frank and Reich are nailing it. And I haven't even reached the cannabis part yet!Ryan is a "shifty" guy in my opinion, and this only reinforces it for me.
 
The conservatives seem to speak in vague, superficial generalities, that of course anyone would be for, and then cite very narrow instances to tie in their ideology. They've been good at this sort of message tailoring for decades. However, if you know their actual history of legislating, it's easy enough to read between the lines.Frank puts the rubber on the road. I almost cheered when he countered Ryan with the success of saving the US auto industry. The further de-industrialization of America would have been catastrophic. And then you see the amazingly anti-business Ryan further attack the US auto industry in counter response. Of course any success of this administration is a failure of Republicans so, they have to hate it.Great, powerful viewing here.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on December 20, 2011 at 04:59:47 PT
Hope
It's great to see you!
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on December 20, 2011 at 04:59:06 PT
John Tyler
Thank you. I hope I can find an article to post. I think we have stalled as far as reform goes. Maybe we have done all there is to do. Hopefully we will see organizations focus on changing the federal law but if not we might just stop caring. It could then be many years to wake up people like it woke up us. 
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Comment #8 posted by John Tyler on December 19, 2011 at 21:38:38 PT
Barney Frank on Christiane Amanpour's show
Yesterday on the Christiane Amanpour show http://abcnews.go.com/ThisWeek/ she had Barney Frank as a guest among others. Barney took that opportunity to advocate for the legalization of cannabis over and over again. It was really good of him. 
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Comment #7 posted by Hope on December 19, 2011 at 11:45:21 PT
Who will the Drug War/Prohibition
kill, ruin, terrify, or hurt today?How many?Will it be you or someone you love?
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #6 posted by ekim on December 19, 2011 at 09:11:59 PT
sure thing FoM
here is the site if anyone is interestedhttp://thedianerehmshow.org/
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on December 19, 2011 at 08:27:09 PT
ekim
Thank you. It is really a serious issue around here.
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Comment #4 posted by ekim on December 19, 2011 at 06:19:58 PT
The Diane Rehm Show on NPR
that is National Public Radio at 10:00am 
today will be talking about Fracking.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #3 posted by FoM on December 18, 2011 at 09:25:19 PT
HempWorld
I see that is from a site called infowars. I never read those type of ideas. I think that is the website with that very strange fellow but I can't remember his name.I appreciate Obama and what he is doing for the Vietnam Veterans. If we had McCain as president all the good just wouldn't have happened.
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on December 18, 2011 at 09:09:20 PT
Obama's silence is not so puzzling if you watch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=x-CrNlilZhoObama, member of the Council on Foreign Relations, say no more, say no more...
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by Oleg the Tumor on December 18, 2011 at 06:28:46 PT:
What do you say to a naked emperor?
Restore the American Hemp Industry and make yourself some clothes!
[ Post Comment ]


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