President Obama's First Interview About Marijuana Legalization In CO and WA Is Full Of Empty Rhetoric
President Obama recently gave an exclusive interview to Barbara Walters which will air tonight on 20/20. In the interview President Obama talks about marijuana legalization becoming a reality in Colorado and Washington State, and how his administration feels about it. As expected, the quotes from the interview that have been released so far are full of BS. Let's break down the interview, which was originally released today in an article by ABC.
"President Obama says recreational users of marijuana in states that have legalized the substance should not be a "top priority" of federal law enforcement officials prosecuting the war on drugs. "We've got bigger fish to fry," Obama said..." Really Obama?
If President Obama truly felt that way, then marijuana reform at the federal level would be a reality. If marijuana enforcement was truly not a 'top priority' than President Obama would heed to call from former President Jimmy Carter that we need to take away federal penalties for simple possession of personal amounts of marijuana.
"It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it's legal," he said, invoking the same approach taken toward users of medicinal marijuana in 18 states where it's legal.
If Obama takes 'the same approach' towards recreational marijuana as he has medical marijuana, than all marijuana consumers better be on notice that they could be raided at anytime, that their landlords could be harassed at anytime, and that their assets could be taken at anytime. If medical marijuana hasn't been a 'top priority' then good people like Montana resident Chris Williams wouldn't be looking at over 80 years in federal prison right now.
"This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law," Obama said. "I head up the executive branch; we're supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we're going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it's legal?"
Yes Mr. President, you head up the Executive Branch...Thanks for that political science 101 breakdown. Here's some more breakdown for you Mr. President - the Executive Branch does more than 'carry out laws.' The Executive Branch, if it really wanted to, could be a catalyst for change in Congress, as has been done in the past. When it comes to health care, did Obama sit back and say, 'well, Congress hasn't changed health care laws yet, and all I can do is carry out what they do...'? Of course he didn't. He used the 'bully pulpit' to put constant pressure on Congress to make change. Marijuana policy reform is no different than any other political cause that Presidents have fought for from a procedural standpoint. When Obama says 'we need to have a conversation about that' I think the entire marijuana community wants to respond with 'No sh%t Sherlock, that's what we have been asking for for years!!!!!'
"It makes sense for us to look at how we can make sure that our kids are discouraged from using drugs and engaging in substance abuse generally," he said. "There's more work we can do on the public health side and the treatment side."
Drug dealers don't ask for ID. The licensed and regulated storefronts that will be selling legal marijuana will ask for ID. If Obama truly wanted to keep marijuana out of the hands of youth, he would be in full support of Colorado and Washington State's recent reforms. I truly believe that with REAL drugs, there definitely needs to be more done on the 'public health side and the treatment side.' However, marijuana is not a REAL drug, and so 'waiting for more to be done' in the area of public health and treatment is nothing more than a delay tactic.
I think readers can already tell that even before I see the whole interview, I'm pretty fired up about this. President Obama has a chance to make history by being the first sitting United States President to fight for sensible marijuana laws. He has every incentive to do so, yet he's clinging to the same rhetoric he has been throwing around for years now. I hope non-marijuana consumers will see through this BS, and demand some REAL conversations about this. It's all fine and great that Obama had a discussion with Barbara Walters about marijuana reform, but I won't really care until he has a REAL conversation with his staff, with Congress, and with state officials in Washington and Colorado. Obama needs to use the 'bully pulpit' for what's right; not for flinging empty rhetoric that goes no where.