What Does President-elect Obama Need To Know About Marijuana ?

This is the last week for submissions to NORML’S VIDEO AD CONTEST. There is $10,000 in cash prize money waiting for the America’s best answers to the above question.


By George Rohrbacher, NORML Board of Directors, medical marijuana patient
America has witnessed the unfolding of a series of unprecedented historic events that portend great change for war on cannabis. The federal war against the plant entered into its 71st year this fall, from the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, to Nixon’s invention of the ‘war on weed’, to Bush’s expanded war against cannabis and the sick and dying that has being playing out in the dispensaries and patient coops of our country’s medical marijuana states—for generations, our federal government has used every means short of public hangings to deter Americans from using cannabis, and it hasn’t worked.
This war on the cannabis plant and its consumers has been a complete and utter failure.
Over 100 million Americans have used cannabis in their lifetimes, including our new President-elect, and about 20 million Americans used pot just this last week. The perverse nature of ‘pot prohibition’ is that it guarantees that marijuana is easily available to our children, the very group of citizens we say we are trying hardest to protect.

In early October 2008, America made its 20-millionth marijuana arrest, topping a record 872,000 arrests in 2007, 90% of which were for the possession of a small amount of pot. Vast sums of taxpayer’s money continue to be wasted every day in America’s failed cannabis prohibition efforts. A simple, but revolutionary change to a tax and regulate posture on cannabis a from to our current “war on weed” policy could have a combined net positive effect on our increasingly strapped federal and state budgets by as much as $50 billion annually to the good. And, to top this off, America’s cannabis users want to be taxed!!! We want to be treated normal. We are pleading for it!
As it has been long said, all politics is local. Well, politics is personal, too. I, like the rest of America, had the opportunity, for the first time in my life, to vote for a highly qualified black man for President. In casting my vote for Barack Obama, I helped set right something that happened to my family when I was a little kid in grade school—there was a cross burned on our lawn. We lived in Auburn, Alabama during the Montgomery bus boycotts and my dad (a research scientist) and the rector of our church had been talking to “the wrong people”, the Klan wanted us to stop. I’ve been waiting for about a half-a-century for the proper way to say, “fuck you”, to those racist cross-burning crackers and the slave owning culture that spawned the attitude. In casting my vote for President on Nov. 4th, the wonderful catharsis I felt in that act of voting told me this was a perfectly elegant way of doing just that.
In this last election, all across the nation, marijuana, too, got down and personal, winning 9 out of 10 electoral contests, including the stunning, nearly 2-to-1 medical marijuana victory in Michigan, and the huge decriminalization initiative win in Massachusetts. ‘The People’ are way out ahead of their elected officials on marijuana issues. Politics are tidal— and the tide is coming in on the issue of marijuana law reform.
These are very unusual times for the topic of marijuana and media recognition. For many years now, they’ve had a deaf ear to us, or worse yet, spouted the prohibitionist party line. About the only way the media would touch the marijuana topic was a Rambo/SWAT Team piece about the takedown of a grow op with helicopters, night vision goggles and the works—and saying virtually nothing about us, the Market, us, the tens of millions of Americans using cannabis to make our lives better.
But things have changed in a big way just these last few months. Marijuana is now a hot topic!
Stories with in-depth coverage are popping up everywhere. What just happened? Has this current financial meltdown given us a moment of clarity?
Has it not been made plain to practically everyone that we all secretly recognize that marijuana is about the only chronic public ‘problem’ our government can fix almost instantly—something we can readily turn from a people-destroying budget liability into a huge tax-generating asset, simply by a change in the law?!
That’s one reason, I think, marijuana legalization is on Change.org’s top ten things that the public thinks need fixing. That’s a reason, I think, Allen’s St. Pierre’s marijuana blogs on RollCall/The Hill generated more responses than any other blog they’ve ever run, ever. National Geographic has just released a very popular hour-long piece on marijuana. And the parade of mainstream media programs slated for broadcast this January should continue to well educate (probably shock) the general public about the costs and horrors of not cannabis, but, more importantly, cannabis prohibition.
Well, dear NORML supporters (and presumed lovers of liberty), you’ve got one week left—so, get out your video cameras or flash animation programs, enter NORML’s contest, take a swing at $10,000 in cash prizes, and help us make our case to the incoming Obama administration.
Just imagine a world without marijuana prohibition…all the taxes collected and patients cared for, farmers cultivating and industry accessing American-grown industrial hemp, prohibition’s failed and cruel people-destroying program cancelled with its recourses re-directed to rebuild this country (a progress that is called “good governance”). So, where do we start on this process of changing America’s ganja laws?

1) President Obama needs to appoint a marijuana study commission, a Shafer Commission 2.0, to gather the evidence needed to support the required final vote on law reform.
2) The first marijuana decriminalization bill introduced In Congress in 28 years was before the last Congress and a new bill is pending! Congressional hearings on marijuana law reform are coming!
3) When the decriminalization bill is re-introduced into this 111th Congress, then it is up to all of us to effectively lobby for the necessary number of votes to finally change this damn law, and bring home some of the real change America voted for this last November.

NORML’s “What President Obama should know about marijuana?” Ad Contest ends on January 15. The videos will be posted to www.norml.org (as well as to NORML’s Facebook and MySpace pages) January 20 until midnight, Monday, January 26 allowing the public to “vote” for their favorite video ads.

0 thoughts

  1. THANK GOODNESS!! It’s high time the general public learned the truth about marijuana. And high time that US marijuana prohibition be hung, drawn, and quartered. I, as well as many of my friends, are going to be keeping our eyes glued to these future TV broadcasts, as well as NORML’s blog updates. We’re all keeping our fingers crossed-hopefully 2009 will be our year!

  2. Legalization would mean a lot of above-ground, taxable jobs will be created domestically, from seed to soil and taxable coffeeshop retail sales to the government coffers. I also want a fantastic selection of imported grasses and hashes, even if there is an import tax on top of other taxes. I especially want to see the great Afghan black hash and Nepalese temple balls, since the U.S. is going to reap the profits from the international sales and distribution of Afghani cannabis products to fund the costs of having Afghanistan as a military protectorate. Joe Biden is over there now, and he had better be setting up the stage for that to happen.

  3. go to facebook and add OBAMAS GROUP FOR LEGALIZATION OF POT group. add all you can we are only 8 members deep.

  4. WE’RE GETTIN CLOSER BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I FEEL IT I FEEL IT!!! I FEEL IT IN MY BLOOD! I CANNOT WAIT TILL THE DAY I GO TO NORML.ORG AND SEE A HUGEEEEE BANNER THAT SAYS “IT’S OVER!!!!!!!!!!!”!!!!!!! tears are going to run down my faceeee like niagra falls!!!!!! i cant even begin 2 imagine the day!!! hopefully 2009 is the year baby!! cmon obama!

  5. I pray with all my heart that our new president will stop this insane war. My son hung himself in a jail sell for this very reason in 1994. The people are crying out for justice. God made the plants for us to use as we see fit and pronounced them good. Who are we to say otherwise? It is a slap in His face. Marijuana prohibition is evil. It is destroying us!

  6. That when Marijuana was somewhat decriminalized in the Netherlands/Denmark, the amount of cocaine, heroin, and crystal meth used by the respective populations decreased substantially.

  7. The dawn of a new era is upon us!! I dream of the day I can sit on my front porch, pipe in hand, and politely wave at the passing police officer.

  8. How about an ad that can be slightly modified for every national and statewide race in the U.S. In every ad face after face would appear on the screen and say the exact same thing. I’m a loyal (Democrat or Republican) of (?) years. I like (Mr. or Ms X), I agree with (him or her) on most issues and think (he or she) would make a fine (office). But I WILL NOT VOTE for (Mr. or Mrs. X)or any other Candidate until he supports the FULL LEGALIZATION OF Cannabis. This is a deal breaker. If you Support Marijuana prohibition, YOU NEED NOT ASK FOR MY VOTE.

  9. Your never going to talk the goverment into repealling Prohibition. It’s time to “send a message” to all who aspire to elected office. I don’t vote for anyone who wants to 1.Put me in jail, 2.Terminate my job, 3.Deny me health care. 4. Deny me student or financial aid, (for my own good of course) all because of a bag of leaves. Other issues we can work together on are important but secondary. LEGALIZE NOT DECRIMINALIZE. VOTE LIKE A BEAST

  10. oh my bad there talking about the same bill should have kept reading. doh!! So i take barney Frank is reintroducing this again then. funny they didn’t add it to the bailout package last year with everything else lol. that would of been sweet

  11. D.E.A. bust G.O.D.
    In what is being called the biggest drug bust in history, officials from the Drug Enforcement Agency have issued a press release stating they have successfully arrested God. God (aka the Creator, Jehovah, Yahweh, the Big Man Upstairs etc) was arrested Tuesday and charged with the manufacture and distribution of greater than 100 tons of marijuana as well as a large quantity of psychedelic (magic) mushrooms. When pressed for specific numbers on just how much marijuana was involved, DEA spokesman Dick Kopp said “Well, really all of it.”
    The press release credits good old fashioned police work for the bust. “A DEA agent was driving by a field and noticed a marijuana plant growing. After months of rigorous surveillance the officer was able to determine there was a ‘highly sophisticated lighting and watering system’ being used to grow the plant. Additional investigation turned up a day planner containing detailed records of God actually admitting to creating the plant, lighting and watering systems.”
    When reached for comment a dazed looking God stated “Man you just don’t get it. It’s like time and the universe are the same thing. You can’t put me in jail. I’m already in jail. I’m everywhere.”
    While this will obviously be a major blow to trafficking operations, authorities suspect that God’s son Jesús will take over the family business. “We don’t have any specific intelligence linking Jesús to these crimes at this moment,” Kopp said “but he certainly fits the profile.”
    Unfortunately this could also be an opportunity for rival south of the border gangs to gain access to the American market. One gang leader known only as “El Diablo” was quoted on Thursday saying “Marijuana? I thought all the cool kids were smoking meth.”
    Regardless of the outcome, the Drug Enforcement Agency is pleased with the way this operation was handled. “It’s a miracle that no one was hurt taking down such a high profile target. We are glad to have another dangerous criminal and more deadly drugs off the streets. This is really about the children.”
    Knumb from the Shroomery.com

  12. I 98% agree. I do not think we should plead for relegalization. I think we should demand it! We are the power, not the government. It’s time we change the attitude of who is the power.

  13. What he needs to know is Marijuana is the third most popular drug in the world next to tobacco and alcohol and least harmful. This country is a free country prosecuting millions of people for smoking the third most POPULAR drug isn’t right.

  14. (“fuck you”, to those racist cross-burning crackers)
    Common man! I don’t like a racist either. But when a black man says cracker, I got to say it, you know the word. Your are the reason the race war goes on. There is no reason to use that word (CRACKER). Unless your just trying to get away with it because of context. You could of said “fuck you”, racist cross-burning Klan members, or anything like that. But you don’t have to stoop to the level of using racial word.

  15. hemp seed oil is easily converted into a clean burning fuel and is a renewable resource.new farming jobs can be created by legalization.hemp uses less chemicals to produce paper pulp than trees and is quickly renewable thereby cutting down deforestation and tremendously helping our environment.thc,contained in marijuana replaces many pharmacutical drugs,most importantly the ones used for depression,mania,anxiety,bipolar,etc. without the dangerous and family destroying side affects like thoughts of suicide or acting on this thought.someone should do a study on how many children/families are destroyed by suicide induced by the side affects of fda approved,doctor prescribed drugs.maybe if a class action lawsuit was put together by these victims,against the fda and drug companies they would join the fight to give us back what god gave us to begin with.i could go on and on!

  16. I have no faith in this nation if weed is not
    legalized in 5 years. its good for you.you feel
    better you act better.it makes food better boring movies
    funny and it would sprout new jobs and better health
    care and america is wondering why they cant controll
    america from drug abuse when they could simply
    just pass this law

  17. you no i dont get that they can have ciggerets
    be legal and marijauna not CIGGERETES GIVE YOU FUCKING


  19. Mr Obama, There are hundreds of thousands of peacefull marijuana users shackled and caged they are now in your care, Please Let my People go!! If you want to unite the country, end the war on your people. I dont know how long the scars will last but we certainly can’t get over it until its over

  20. 19 January 2009
    I am passionate about drug policy reform. I have been around people and have close friends from all social and economic backgrounds. My experiences on church trips, playing college football, AAU basketball throughout high school, and the wide-range of smart people from an array of backgrounds that I have become close to. One of my primary influences was a civil rights icon I had the pleasure to learn from in his History of the Civil Rights course that I took at the University of South Carolina. His name is Cleveland Sellers; he sparked my fire for fighting for issues of social, economic, and racial justice. I was at a point in my life where sports injuries were taking their toll on me, and while I did get back on the field this past fall and play football for Florida State before re-injuring my lower back I saw that my life as entering a new phase. That phase is to take up Cleveland Sellers’ challenge to us to fight for justice as a way of life and now I am able to fully devote my time to being active and making my voice heard as football is now in my rearview mirror.
    I see the drug war, especially the inclusion of marijuana as a component of that war, as a disgrace to science, a civil rights issue, and an issue that parallels the universally failed alcohol prohibition of the 1920’s. The main point I like to make to drug warriors is that alcohol is every bit the gateway drug that marijuana is. It is unbelievable that in what is supposed to be the land of the free, a responsible law-abiding adult has to fear its government regarding marijuana use and possession, whereas the legal protection of Americans right to booze it up is defended and is part of the mainstream culture in this country. Along with deleterious products such as tobacco we can all see that public health is not the true reason behind our nations’ marijuana prohibition. The key issue in all of this is the goal of reducing crime! We all share that goal; I am a firm believer that by cutting out marijuana from the black market, and henceforth regulating its sale to those 21 and up we would be able to focus on the true criminals. The ONDCP loves to say that marijuana dealers are violent, but what they fail to mention is that 98% of purely marijuana dealers are peaceful; it is the group of dealers who will sell anything for a buck that they include in their lies and half-truths about the dangers of marijuana and the people who either sell or consume it. We have to free our nation from these draconian laws and put a dent in the massive for profit, prison-industrial complex that along with drug enforcement fights everyday to maintain the status-quo in society. We thirsting for reform must stand up to entrenched bureaucracy and demand change that will reduce crime, save lives, help distinguish marijuana’s harm relative to other horrific like drugs such as crack cocaine and heroin? If you were to believe our school’s drug education one would think that all drugs are equally as bad therefore young people are not taught any boundaries. I am not an advocate for young people using marijuana in any way shape or form. 21 and over and tax it heavily, no one needs an explanation now for why we need all the funds possible now with our current economic crisis. Underage offenders should be treated no differently than underage drinkers. There should be treatment, community service, etc, or whatever is deemed appropriate for a given individual by a social worker, drug/alcohol counselor, or a Judge. I am passionate and hopeful that in the 21st century we can become a better nation by purging our archaic cannabis laws and re-thinking how we operate in drug wars at large both domestically and internationally. If anyone feels as I do and would like to get active on this issue please contact me by cell at (904) 210-5779, or by email at ngw08@fsu.edu.
    Sincerely, Nathaniel Wallace

  21. It’s not a war on (some) drugs, it’s a war on minorities, to replace lost slave labor with prison labor. Read tinyurl.com/1mn and tinyurl.com/potconviction

  22. I’ve been against any drug use,well sure smoked a little weed as a twentysomething.But times have changed and at 38 going blind wasn’t part of it. I suffer from a very painful form of eye disease. I have tried every form of pain killer know to man for it.
    I few months ago someone suggested “smoking weed”. Sure as being told this will help it did. My eye pain is all day and half the night. If the goverment tells me its illegal to use this pain med. I have a few very strong words for them in regards to using marijuana for pain.
    1. I don’t want to hurt,kill or maim anyone while using it.
    2. It should be legel to purchase via a goverment sorce.
    3. I’ll take whatever i want to ease my pain and yes that means pot.
    4. I have worked my entire life till now,forced to medicaly re-tire.Apone saying this I have never been to jail of anything. Fear of being busted for buying weed even though its for pain.
    5. Walk in my shoes for a day with the pain driving you nuts to the piont of not wanting to live anymore
    6. You can tax marijuana and make billions of dollars a year.{How else can you afford all those nices things congress folks have and joe tax payer doesn’t}
    7. Cigerettes are legal {They kill millions of americans a year}
    8.Living in the bible belt.This would surely cause a breakdown of the good ole boy system.

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