Obama Exhibits Honesty About Drug Use as a Youth

Obama Exhibits Honesty About Drug Use as a Youth
Posted by CN Staff on February 11, 2008 at 04:44:16 PT
By Sheryl McCarthy
Source: Newsday 
New York -- Of all the presidential contenders, Barack Obama has been the most forthcoming about his past drug use.In his biography, he admits to having smoked marijuana, using some cocaine, briefly flirting with the idea of trying heroin (although he never used any) and imbibing a fair amount of alcohol when he was in high school and college.
Quizzed about his past drug use, he confessed to having inhaled the marijuana smoke, unlike Bill Clinton, who when faced with a similar question years ago, claimed that while he had smoked marijuana, he didn't inhale."I inhaled. ... That was the point," Obama told New Yorker editor David Remnick.Obama's honesty about what he and many other baby boomers did in the '60s and '70s, and which some continue to do today, was refreshing, given the general hypocrisy most of our politicians exhibit on the subject. We haven't heard a peep about marijuana use from Hillary Clinton, though it's a rare woman her age who hasn't taken a few tokes. But then Clinton is so cautious that you rarely hear anything real coming from her.While he's considerably older than the other candidates, given that John McCain served in Vietnam and spent five years as a prisoner of war, it's hard to believe that throughout that war and the added strain of his internment, when marijuana and much harder drugs were a favorite balm of U.S. soldiers, that no illegal substances ever touched his lips.Nor can we expect any admissions from Mike Huckabee, the most avid Christian of the bunch, who has said that illegal drug use is not due to a failure of education, but to a failure of righteousness.So having Obama admit to his past drug use is a kind of progress. It makes me wonder, should he wind up being our next president, if he would be the one to move this country out of its current drug policy rut. According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Report, in 2005 police arrested almost 800,000 people for marijuana violations, the highest number ever recorded by the FBI. The overwhelming majority of these arrests were for possession only. Nor do the experts I've talked to suggest that the increase is in any way related to an increase in marijuana use. It is simply the result of greater harassment, usually of young people, and especially of young blacks, even though the research shows that whites use marijuana at a higher rate.Queens College sociologist Harry Levine has done research that found that New York City police went on a marijuana arrest binge between 1997 and 2004, when marijuana arrests in the city increased twelvefold. During that time, marijuana use and availability remained largely unchanged. Police are subjecting young blacks and Latinos to arrest and overnight stays in jail, and introducing many who are without criminal records to the criminal justice system for offenses so minor that they don't even rise to the level of crimes.The U.S. Sentencing Commission recently approved a slight reduction in the sentencing disparity between powder cocaine-related crimes versus crack-related crimes, but eliminating the remaining disparity is up to Congress. And with a federal ban on the use of marijuana for medical purposes having been upheld by a conservative Supreme Court, federal drug agents continue to harass doctors and patients in the 12 states that have declared such use legal.Politicians, pandering to public fears, continue to denounce marijuana with the fervor of the 1930s film "Reefer Madness," which claimed that smoking marijuana drove young people crazy, and led to violent crime and promiscuity.How much of a departure from that outdated, erroneous thinking could we expect from the four front-runners? Not much from McCain, who is as militant about the war on drugs as he is about the war in Iraq. He favors increasing the penalties for selling drugs, the death penalty for drug kingpins, and even restricting the availability of methadone to heroin addicts. While he supports expanding federal education and treatment programs, he opposes making marijuana available for medical reasons.To his credit, Huckabee, while calling for better patrolling of borders against drug smugglers, also supports drug courts and alternatives to prison for low-level drug offenders and drug addicts.Clinton has said that, if elected, she would end federal raids on medical marijuana providers, eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and powered cocaine, and oppose hard time for nonviolent drug offenders.During one of the debates, Obama raised his hand with the other Democratic candidates when asked if they oppose the decriminalization of marijuana, but his campaign has since said that he supports decriminalization. And he has gone on record as opposing federal raids on medical marijuana providers.Given his relative youth and his greater distance from older politicians who for years have obsessed over the most minor drug infractions like dogs picking over a bone, Obama may offer the greatest potential for a more enlightened drug policy. But even he has described his youthful dalliance with drugs in an apologetic way, as being a "mistake" during a time of youthful confusion.It would be interesting, as he campaigns on college campuses, among the young people who have become the rising face of his campaign, if someone asked him:"Mr. Obama, what exactly are you apologizing for?" Source: Newsday (NY)Author: Sheryl McCarthyPublished: February 11, 2008Copyright: 2008 Newsday Inc.Contact: letters newsday.comWebsite: Articles: Friends Say Drugs Played Only Bit Part for Obama Truth Obama Won't Dare Tell Decriminalize Pot 
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Comment #11 posted by ekim on February 11, 2008 at 21:10:32 PT
they tried to make me go to rehab but i said no no
Richard Cowan is talken about UN -- treaty says we can get out with a six months heads up--should be printed for all to read.weeds actor on Steve Kubby show on tuesday-www.marijuananews.comJesse Jackson in Lima today--
Dennis Kucinich could go there too--www.kucinich.usnext week Dem Debate in Austin Texas--question for both -- why would anyone want the great State of Texas to forget its wondeful history of Hemp-- 
When the shuttle nose cone fell from the sky -- what was the town in Texas it landed in?
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on February 11, 2008 at 15:03:41 PT
It's good to see you. I think your questions are good ones. If he would beat Hillary Clinton for the nomination I think he would talk about our issue when they do events at colleges in the fall when he would be running against McCain. He would have liberty to say something then but it would be a disaster if he talked now. The Clinton campaign would use anything they can spin to defeat him.
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Comment #9 posted by Sukoi on February 11, 2008 at 14:52:10 PT
I'd Like to See These Question Asked AND Answered
Senator Obama, do you think that your "youthful indescretion" should have resulted in you being convicted which, by todays standards, would have resulted in educational aid being revoked? If not, then how can you support arresting and convicting those who are doing the exact same thing that you did? Also, do you think that an adult who chooses to ingest a plant should be imprisoned, if so, why? If elected, would you allow adults to make their own decisions about what they decide to responsibly consume or would an Obama presidency continue treating American adults like children as has been done for decades? I'd like to hear him DIRECTLY answer those questions or some that are very similar... 
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Comment #8 posted by Sam Adams on February 11, 2008 at 10:18:53 PT
FOM, I totally agree with what you're saying, we could use a lot more honesty. What does the 12-step program teach above all else - no denial! "My name is George and I'm a recovering alcoholic". Being honest with yourself is the ONLY way to succeed.That's why I constantly chafe at the hypocrisy of our culture. That's what the MJ laws did - just made everyone a good liar. Why would we want laws that make millions of people into liars! It can't be good for the long term.runruff- I totally agree with you on McCain. Whatever else he is, make no mistake, he is the most militaristic candidate and will work the hardest for the defense contractors and military industry.Just read something interesting today - we have 50,000 troops in Japan! wtf??? (saw this because there was another rape of a pre-teen Japanese girl in Okinawa, very tragic). So we have 25,000 in Italy and 25K in England, 50K in Germany, and 50K troops in Japan.We have as many troops in those countries as we do in Iraq!THIS is why I'll vote only for Kucinich and Ron Paul. This is welfare for the military-industrial complex. These people are getting us into wars and their goal is long-term destabilization of world powers, not peace.  We have hundreds of thousands of troops all over the world, it's absolutely ridiculous. No one even knows! I'll bet 98% of Americans have no idea how many military operations we have running right now. I think we have military personnel in something like 150 countries. No wonder we can't stabilize Iraq and Afghanistan, most of our troops are elsewhere. No wonder 9/11 attacks were successful, our defense resources are spread all over the world, instead of watching our borders.
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Comment #7 posted by dongenero on February 11, 2008 at 09:50:32 PT
presidential drug use
One difference is that Clinton and Obama used drugs at a recreational level rather than a destructive, abusive, out of control level, obviously maintaining a high degree of functionality.It is well known, on the other hand that Bush Jr. was a substance abuser, an alcoholic. The cocaine use by Bush is all but certain and likely a part of the substance abuse dysfunction he was struggling with. Maybe the media is laying off because he was out of control with such a severe problem? I don't know
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Comment #6 posted by runruff on February 11, 2008 at 09:50:18 PT:
John McCain is insane. Just look into his eyes. Coansider his outburst. His philosophy on the treatment of other human beings. He is a war monger. Addicted to power. A puppet of the industrial military complex. [Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb bomb Iran.] If anyone needed to use drugs, he does.It's not that I hate crazy people, I just don't want them in charge. Neither can I relate to their way of thinking. 
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Comment #5 posted by FoM on February 11, 2008 at 09:47:17 PT
One More Thought
Society doesn't live in a plastic bubble and thrive. We need to burst that bubble and let people out and we might find out what a big, wide, wonderful world we live in. That's all.
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Comment #4 posted by FoM on February 11, 2008 at 09:41:55 PT
Just My Thoughts - Being Honest
Through most of my adult life all I really wanted was for friends and people I would come in contact with in business to be honest. The truth can be hard to hear sometimes but we sometimes need to hear it. We are who we are and we should always be true to ourselves and others or what's the point really?
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Comment #3 posted by Sam adams on February 11, 2008 at 09:35:42 PT
one comment
Again, isn't it interesting that Obama's drug use is compared to Clinton....wait a second, didn't we skip a president there? What about Bush? He has all but confirmed that he was addicted to alchohol and a regular user of cocaine until he turned 40.....yet no mention of him at all. It's fascinating, apparently we just aren't allowed to think about Republicans using drugs, or being gay, until they get arrested.  Which is rare, since they can usually buy their way out of that.
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Comment #2 posted by Commonsense on February 11, 2008 at 09:14:01 PT
Despite what this author thinks, I seriously doubt McCain was doing drugs in Vietnam. He was in his thirties by the time he went over there, and a Navy fighter pilot. Those guys who have to land fighter jets on aircraft carriers tend to be pretty serious. He was born in 1936, so he was already well past the stage where people tend to experiment with drugs by the time drug use started becoming prevalent. He was shot down and taken prisoner in 1967, so while others were enjoying the Summer of Love he was enduring torture. He remained a prisoner of war for more than five years. He probably wasn't doing a lot of partying while in the Hanoi Hilton.  McCain probably never sat around and pulled bong hits. He's old school, and no doubt wants business as usual when it comes to the drug war. I kind of like John McCain, but he's not the one you want to win if you want the feds to back off of medical marijuana or if you want to see any progress made in the greater struggle to get marijuana legalized. 
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Comment #1 posted by LaGuardia on February 11, 2008 at 08:55:50 PT
Nice Piece
We need more op-ed pieces like this one.
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