White House Press Secretary Tries To Defend Obama's Opposition To Taxing And Regulating Pot — He Can't!

The HuffingtonPost.com, one of the most visited political websites in the world, has just posted a version of my commentary online here. Please post your feedback to the Post, and make it clear that marijuana law reform must be part of the ‘progressive’ agenda.
If you thought President Barack Obama’s mocking response to the question of whether “taxing and regulating cannabis would raise revenue and reduce prohibition-associated violence” couldn’t be any worse, just listen to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs stumble.

Kudos to the reporters who held the White House’s feet to the fire on this one. First, Gibbs is asked: “When the President said he doesn’t think that legalizing marijuana would give the economy a boost was he giving a political answer or an economic answer? Does he have numbers to back (his position) up?
The pained expression on Gibbs’ face says it all as he mumbles that, in fact, he is aware of no economic analyses — as in zip, nada — that support the President’s dismissive position. Naturally, we have numerous credible economic reports proving just the opposite. Perhaps Mr. Gibbs would like to review them here, here, here, and here.
Minutes later, the White House Press Secretary appears even more desperate for a place to hide when a second reporter asked Gibbs to articulate the reasons why the President refuses to consider the issue. Gibbs’ response is priceless.
“Uh, he, he does not think that, uh, uh, that that is uh, uh, [pause] he opposes it, he doesn’t think that that’s the, the right plan for America.”
And there you have it. Wow. Such a vapid response wouldn’t cut it if Gibbs was a third-grader standing in front of his classroom, no less the Press Secretary to the White House!
Keep in mind, both Obama and his press secretary knew in advance that they were going to publicly respond the question of taxing and regulating cannabis. They had at least 24 hours to prepare an articulate, rational, and substantive response. And yet the best response they could come up with was snickers and “uh.”
Are the final days of marijuana prohibition upon us? It sure looks that way from here. But why not write the President and ask him yourself.

0 thoughts

  1. the presidents joking response to the marijuana question during his recent internet town hall meeting missed the point entirely. It’s not that marijuana legalization will somehow save the economy. California’s legalization of marijuana is estimated to be a 1 billion dollar industry. The real point is the damage and destruction caused by the current policy. Peoples lives are being destroyed every day and his humorous responses belie the seriousness of the situation. We will NEVER win the war on drugs until we recognize the fact that prohibition is a failure and the only way to end this war is to legalize drugs so that the government has control and not the criminals. The resources sent to the border are like pouring money down the toilet. the only way to end drug gangs and their violence is to take away the market that pays for their existence. You may ask, ” what about legalizing hard drugs? Last time I checked oxycontin, as bad as herion in it’s addiction and overdose problems is LEGAL!! You just have to get it from a doctor with a script.
    This War was declared by Nixon because he wasn’t going to be seen as soft on crime. SO HE COULD GET REELECTED. His rejection of his own commission’s report on what to do about drugs has resulted in untold misery. Every death and destroyed life resulting from this policy should be laid right at his feet.
    Is Mr. Obama also going to keep up the war so he dosen’t look soft on crime? As smart he is he must realize that the current policy must be changed. I hope he does not sacrifice more of his fellow Americans on the alter of his reelection. So far his public attitude about marijuana is not very funny!

  2. It’s gratifying to think I may have supplied the lead for this story. (See my post #642 in the “What’s So Funny…” article.)
    I think CommanMan may have hit on the core of all this awkwardness by the Obama team. In 2004, Obama said he believed marijuana should be decriminalized. Does anyone seriously believe he had a major change of heart? It seems the most likely scenario is Obama has marijuana decrim on a future agenda, and this fracas has put him in the embarrasing position of having to reveal it prematurely.
    Here’s another sign the end of prohibition is near. For some reason, Amy Goodman at Democracy Now, has avoided this issue like the plague. I have assumed she felt it would make DN be taken less seriously, so she decided to avoid the controversy. But TODAY, she made it a major story! Check out her interview with Norm Stamper of LEAP:

  3. It’s high time NORML starts running these TV spots… what’s the hold up?!? The time is now, start spending the donations!


  5. With this I’ve updated my video……

    Iowans a new sun has dawned over a new Iowa, thank you to all who supported IOWA-SF293

  6. If you want real change vote for Ron Paul.
    If you are interested other freedom related topics go to Campaignforliberty.com

  7. “Are the final days of marijuana prohibition upon us? It sure looks that way from here.”
    I totally agree! Marijuana is a hot topic right now with the media. See for example: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0309/20576.html
    Just 5 years ago it was even taboo to mention the word marijuana. Now look at the change. I try to follow NORML’s daily links to marijuana related news around the world. Most of this stuff is mainstream stuff; yet most everything I read today calls for an end to marijuana prohibition. Prohibitionists are really starting to look SILLY.
    You can’t really blame Obama for his position, RIGHT NOW. I voted for this man and still support him. The future can change with science and support. Obama knows this for sure. But many people are waiting for American’s first Black President to fail. Obama has been given the worst financial mess in the history of this country. People are already scared. People don’t need anything else.
    Unfortunately the tiny minds that would oppose Obama, if he suddenly legalized weed in the first few months of this presidency, would let out a major roar that would alarm the country. Obama does not need hysteria right now. Nor does the economy.
    So from a certain point of view, legalizing weed right now could hurt the economy. And I’m not even talking about the huge redistribution of wealth from law enforcement, prisons, etc., to a legal economy. Many police offers (the whole drug war system) would lose jobs and put another dent into the economy.
    Arresting and locking up drug offenders is a human rights violation, pure and simple. A group (religion, race, etc.,) should not be victimized to keep people employed. Is this not a new form of slavery?
    Obama is a smart man and for the most part sincere, I feel. Right now the marijuana reform movement needs pot smoker celebrities and noted personalities. Imagine leading people from sports, the music industry, computers, movie stars, writers, scientists, billionaires, featured together in a NORML advertising campaign. IMHO, NORML should be writing to VIP pot smokers for their support. Then the media can really get fired up.
    All Obama (USA) need right now is in your face concrete support to ending marijuana prohibition. His small responses are begging for it! Stay positive and be happy…. Legal Cannabis USA 2012!

  8. Good stuff, NORML!
    It couldn’t now be more obvious that the White House has no legitimate cards left on the table.

  9. I know why they oppose it! I have the
    answer already. It’s BAD. BAD BAD
    -> ARROW will get you hooked
    on that crack cocaine, and heroine.
    It will cause your children to
    acidify into a liquid type form
    that you will soon
    find within your couch. It will cause
    the devil himself to come down to you,
    and rebuke you for your demonic actions.
    All those are reasons why marijuana
    should be illegal. And i agree with them
    I mean i would if i believe in
    Santa clause and the God damn
    Easter bunny. Whatever the fuck it is
    that you deluded fucks believe.
    But i say NO TO SANTA, NO TO THE
    YOU Sons OF A … Well you get the

  10. #16 Not true. Although unconstitutional, the president can sign an executive order enacting any act he pleases. If a president can act outside the checks and balances of congress to kill in the name of war, I do not see why he can not use the same authority to save lives by ending the drug war.

  11. Wow, I’m surprised that a White House press conference was that laid back. It seemed like they just sorta goofed around. But it also seemed like Gibbs had no clue what he was talking about. In fact, it seems like the president has no data to back them up on any of the claims that they make.
    On a lighter note, was that Jack Herer?

  12. I voted for change.
    I voted for an end to the drug war.
    I voted to bring our troops home.
    I voted to keep millions of non-violent “criminals” out of our failing prison system for possessing a plant.
    I voted for an end to bailing out the rich and powerful.
    I voted to end the never-ending wars in the middle east.
    I voted for sound economic policies.
    I voted for Ron Paul.

  13. @ comment #7
    It’s been done by some very smart people.
    The studies regarding pot’s economic, social, and health impacts are out there and they are overwhelmingly in favor of legalization. Even studies commissioned by the government (Shafer report, anyone?) come to the conclusion that pot should be legalized and regulated. The trouble is overcoming 70+ years of prohibitionist propaganda that has become so ingrained in out national psyche that everyone simply accepts the false hoods as truth.

  14. The simple fact of the matter is that while more of the American populace is becoming more vocal in support of sensible drug policy and harm reduction, the words “legal marijuana” are just too politically damaging at this time.
    Sadly, I can understand why Obama laughed at the marijuana questions. The majority of the public (58% according to a recent poll) still oppose any legalization efforts at all. Furthermore, we (legalization supporters) must fight the widespread stereotype of apathetic “burnout” slackers that are the ideological antithesis of Obama’s campaign for hard work, intelligence and self-sacrifice. Even politicos who readily admit to smoking marijuana in their youth will downplay it as “a bad time in my life”.
    I know it’s unfair but it is something we should concentrate on defeating if we are ever to gain ground in ending the drug war.
    One sign has me very encouraged, however. That of the recent surge in mainstream public debate and serious consideration of the real merits of legalization. This would have been unheard of only last year.
    Much like the media coverage of energy price outrage turned a non-issue into a campaign clincher, marijuana legalization must remain in the forefront of the mainstream news. You can make this happen easily by contacting your representatives at least once a month. This in turn encourages politicos to respond and the media to report on it.
    Last, marijuana activists must remind people that responsible marijuana use won’t turn one into a useless zombie. Only by stressing the positive societal contributions of marijuana users can they hope to gain the respect that will ultimately win the fight.

  15. The change Obama spoke of where not promises of freedom.but more of complete control of you and your kids and your kids kids bank’s government owned heavy industry government owned and most people’s loan’s government owned the change is not for more freedom sorry but the answer to that is lol haha hehe NO NO NO how can you trust government most employees of government have to have a union to protect them from them self’s real change must be voted for vote for and demand with vote’s real change

  16. I agrea that it does seem like the goverments view on pot is like an adult telling a child “no,because I said so”.
    Thank you to the media for asking questions for the public.
    We are telling you what we want Mr. President please hear us.
    Give us an alternative to liquer and pharmacy pills!
    And do not mock us. There is nothing funny about a human put in a cage for pot.

  17. Whats wrong with the daily audio stash ? It says file not found when I tried listening today 3/30/09.

  18. Ok here is what I know. When the war on drugs started at the beginning of the 20th century around 1.3 percent of the population were addicted to some sort of (drug) including alcohol. We have spent well over a trillion dollars fighting this war. Basically making criminals out of citizens that needed medical help. Yes they had a problem. A human problem which could of been solved by helping them not incarcerating them. Yes we are so civilixed. We are the only so called free country that puts people in jail for having a medical condition. This is insane. The only reason we have all the violence and crime around this issue is because of PROHIBITION. This has to stop. Getting back to the point do you know what percent of the population is addicted today. Around 1.3 percent. Does that make sense for us to continue to fight this war on our sick who need help and our sympaphy.

  19. The reason we are not heard is because we are under-funded! It’s difficult to compete with the Alcohol Lobby, the Pharmaceutical Lobby, and others that DO NOT want Marijuana legalized. It is unfortunate that “money talks” in our form of government, rather than the majority of the people. However, WE ARE THE MAJORITY!
    Our cause CANNOT fail if each of the 20 MILLION PLUS regular marijuana users donated even just $10 for the furtherance of our cause to a worthy organization, and there are MANY, with NORML being on the top of the list in my opinion.
    IMAGINE what $200 MILLION DOLLARS would do for the cannabis lobby!
    We can do it. All we need to do is open our pocketbooks. Donate money. Donate time. Write letters. Talk to our friends.
    So let’s do it!

  20. What happened to the marching in the streets for change? This worked on giving the blacks their rights. What about the rights of Americans to choose whether to smoke marijuana or not? The politicians in this government sing freedom, freedom, freedom. They sing but do not live up to their voices. Obama invites other politicians to the White House for drinks. Alchohol, the killer drug, seems to be their drug of choice. Hippocrites. Wasn’t it alchohol that caused Ted Kennedy to kill the lady? Oh yea, we aren’t suppose to know that.

  21. I’ve been a little heated lately since seeing Obama’s reaction on tv during the town hall meeting. One thing that alot of you are right about is that everyone is talking about Cannibis and drug legalization period. Like many of you have said I will excercise patience, the truth will be revealed. Anyways, here’s some semi-interesting commentary from Bill Maher and guests about what Obama had to say at the town hall meeting and what Hillary said while visting Mexico. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqAOnUbvNn0&feature=player_embedded

  22. “It will cause your children to
    acidify into a liquid type form
    that you will soon
    find within your couch. It will cause
    the devil himself to come down to you,
    and rebuke you for your demonic actions.
    All those are reasons why marijuana
    should be illegal.”
    Whoever you are in all your hate, thank you for your endorsement for legal marijuana. Anything as silly as this rant, is proof enough that there is no rational and logical argument for prohibition.
    Please get help for all that anger inside. Pot smokers are your friends too. I wonder who is the real devil here?

  23. There is no way the President (no matter who he is) will agree on television that marijuana could really grow the economy. It’s a shame the subject of marijuana was framed that way.
    The opposition has enough trouble understanding that marijuana isn’t dangerous without having to swallow the pill that it could be a driving force of the economy. That notion actually scares them.

  24. wow how stupid are these people? the people that are against weed aren’t the ones that voted for you dumbass!change? more like change for the worse! after bush i didn’t think that was possible.

  25. The Federal government is in every way a disgrace, No more than that an enemy of liberty.
    Obama is the head of this failed institution of course he’s going to make light of the issue. Do you expect him to admit the government is abusing millions of citizens.

  26. They sound like parents talking to toddlers. They dont have to explain WHY they are doing it for our best interests, we just sorta have to trust they know the right direction for all of us, even though its clear that we dont want that direction.
    COME ON PEOPLE! I dont trust them.

  27. I just posted on the ONDCP “pushing back” website. I encourage everybody to do the same. I doubt that those pukes will display my posting. I wish festering boils on the lot of them.

  28. #16 Not true. Although unconstitutional, the president can sign an executive order enacting any act he pleases. If a president can act outside the checks and balances of congress to kill in the name of war, I do not see why he can not use the same authority to save lives by ending the drug war.
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  29. #107, I agree with you completely! I have a theory that’s been gnawing at the back of my mind that, because of his position now as President, he can’t be completely out in the open about legalization. Not without losing the support of many, if not most of his fellow policy-makers. Beleive me, I was just as hurt and angered as everyone when he said what he did. I might be crazey here, but I think he slapped the hornet’s nest on purpose in order to get everyone mobileized! What the press did with Gibbs, on thier own, I might add was F’ing Awsome!!!
    It seems to me that the next best corse of action for us all to take is to keep the pressure on! Don’t f’ing quit, we need to get up in thier faces more than ever!! What we need to do is stage demonstrations across the country with as many people as possible!!
    I have also heard of an excellent idea to call the White House at 4:20 am and pm on April 20th and jam thier f’ing phone lines!! Be sure to call and harrass your friendly Senators and Congressmen too!! In person if at all possible!! Do whatever it takes for our message to be seen and heard!! Hang banners from freeway overpasses, Demonstrate, Rally at your state capitals, etc. They need to see bodies out there, people!!! Just don’t do anything stupid that can get you arrested.
    All of you Celebs need to get off the fence too!!! Stop being so afraid for your career!!! Grow A Pair!! Got caught in a picture taking a bong hit?? For once, say “Yeah, I did it. And I’ll do it again” Don’t apologize for it, whatever you do.
    We all know what the facts of marijuana are. It’s time that the rest of America does, too. Speak Truth to Power.

  30. i read almost all of these posts here.i don’t be leave O Bama is reading them.why do you post reply’s to him? he lied, he said things you want to hear,you were happy!you voted for him! I voted for Dr.Ron Paul (period) he spoke to you from a position of a 10 sec sound bite you didnt listen.i did!o bama is a puppet.your crongress is a impure thing that beleaves its wallet is more important than what u or i want and need. its time to realy do somthing we all need to get togeather and blocade DC to the point that they cant miss us.
    ((” every day. “)) not on just a certain day a year. don’t you think that the congress/executive branches of our lovely country know when we will be there. they be leave they can legislate morality. (there morals are not mine.i don’t steel i try not to lie sometimes you have to (i don’t like it).but politicians are lairs.they know what to say it when.
    as for my plan: with all the self mediators and rec users i,m sure we can get enough people to go for 1 to 7 days to dc through out the year then 1 or 2 perhaps more days for major marches. btw we according to our Constitution don’t need a permit to assemble. also we dont need 1 to have a revolution but the gov seems to think they want 1 from us.i,m not advocating 1 but by all there actions of recent years seems to show me and a few others they are begging us for it. latest (O-bamnation) fires the head of a major Privet business?my god when will it end. lets just not crawl not walk not run to but thrust our country into social fascism. we need these leaders in Normal and the other pro legalize sites to help us help ourselves we have the baking i,m positive of it. show me some one whom has not been touched in someway by prohibition or needs or knows someone who just needs it to get threw the days pain. Is not this the hour for us to unite then resolve our governmental dispute?

  31. maybe it’s time for somebody to run for president on the main platform of end war on drugs and use new industry revenue to reduce health care costs.

  32. I’m a chronic pain patient and I can’t believe this is a laughing matter. I wish the President and who ever is against this to be legal jump in my shoes just for a day. I guess it’s OK to put Pain Management Centers up all over the place and let them give out medication that will get you addicted too. I’m mad as hell for they don’t know what it’s like to have severe spasms to where I’m on the floor screaming in pain. What I like to know is are they getting paid off too?

  33. Obama still thinks he is a shoe in for a second term. What a joke,He better start putting the 16.5 million smokers in jail before nov.2012. That way we the people can`t vote him out of office. Remember he needs the working class to get his ass out of this mess.

  34. Am I the only one who thinks that our government is more dangerous and destructive than so called terrorists?
    This country has a really negative affect on me.

  35. The Press scores two points. We need to keep the pressure up on President Obama. So that this issue haunts every press corps meeting. He asked and America has answered. If he wants to leave a good mark on History without looking like a fool, he needs to pull a rabbit out of his hat. That Rabbit will be More in the harm reduction area. Medical Marijuana is his ticket into being free to keep the Madness going 4 more years. Lets have another study so we can ignore it like all the other studies. Perhaps after this next study, or Miracle of Miracles he will come on the news outlets after his trip to Mexico he will have a change of heart and Federally legalize it only for Medical purposes!!! Worst case scenario is that because of the economy the politicians will see the light and repeal prohibition and they will be the ones to lead us to freedom and President Obama will go down in History as the last laughingstock President of Prohibition!!!! Say it is not so Joe!!!!!

  36. I wrote this on whitehouse.gov
    “This email is for the president.
    First off, after watching you being “open for questions” I really think you should change this below:
    “President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history. To send questions, comments, concerns, or well-wishes to the President or his staff, please use the form below”
    Secondly, as much as I would love a response (even a negative one) I cant expect it to be elaborative in any manner.
    The reason I write you today is that I’m outraged by your response to the nation on marijuana’s legality status. What happened to using common sense and science to guide the nation? Better than that, why is it the governments business who smokes marijuana. The governments is to protect the people from others, not from ourselves. And if I’m wrong and marijuana falls short of being a topic worth discussing, tell me why. We cant honestly say that recreational use of marijuana is just childish. Go to any club on any night, and you’ll see adults drinking and smoking recreationally. And I would bet good money that the DEA does not care. Though some people are irresponsible and will drive drunk, alcohol is still legal. And the cigarettes arent doing our bodies any favors either. Why is marijuana intertwined so tight with politics? Why does it matter? Because someone prefers something different from me doesnt make them wrong and vice/versa. If an overwhelming amount of people want marijuana legal, why cant we have it? For the people that dont want it, they dont have to purchase it. People arent picketing Wal-Mart and shouting because they sell alcohol and cigarettes. Why is this so taboo? Also, why are you falling into the groove of every other politcian? Where is the change we can believe in? The only people that are effected by marijuana legalization are the people who want it. People who are anti-marijuana can be just the same as they were prior to the change. Sir I wont ask you to reconsider your answer, because it doesnt seem as if there was any consideration in the first place. Any other topic can get a paragraph or two response as to what, why, and how about anything. As soon as marijuana is mentioned, noses fly up in the air and people start thinking how good they are. This isnt just a question of prefrence, this is a question of rights. Its the peoples right to do what they please as long as they’re not hurting, bothering, or effecting anyone else. The responsibility of people themselves is not the governments job. The reprocussions of irresponsible actions is. I want to know why this topic is so controversial and why you dismiss any valid thought of it while you’re in the position to do so much change. I would like to know.
    A law abiding citizen,
    Tyler D. Delrie”
    I doubt it does any good, but it makes me feel better knowing that I’m giving my money, time, and energy to a logical cause.

  37. Its not just an Economic issue, but an ACLU issue. Its our Individual liberty. Just like people have the choice to smoke tobacco & drink Alcohol.
    Hemp/cannabis is Too Versatile to be ignored as an economic help. Its an economic & environmental issue. Just think of all the tax payers money that goes to subsidizing american farmers… They could start on a road to be self-sufficient. Stop the deforestation of the rainforest for paper pulp.
    We need to organize EVERYONE that this issue effects. ACLU, NORML, GREENPEACE… who ever we can UNITE in a common goal with.

  38. The US can not afford to continue to give aide & funding to other countries, continue to finance wars and other US interests around the world by borrowing billions on the american tax payers credit.
    The US can not continues to ignore alternative ways of using our own natural renewable resources to sustain our selves and economic interests here at home. It is in our national security interests to do so.
    Stop letting Special interests groups dictate and control America. We can not continue to keep silent. Never let go of hope, because hopelessness is what they want you to feel so that you will give up the fight.

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