On three separate occasions, the White House has asked the public to provide them with feedback on the top public policy questions facing the nation. And on three separate occasions, the leading question for the new administration — as chosen on and voted by the American public — pertained to the legalization of marijuana.
One might examine these results and conclude that marijuana law reform is an issue that is becoming increasingly popular with America’s voters. Of course if you’re Fox News, you interpret these results another way.
Obama’s Effort at Online Transparency Stymied by Internet Trolls
via Fox News
“Three and a half million people participated in the event, but the ‘trolls’ had their way: Following a coordinated campaign by marijuana advocates to vote their topic to the top of the list, questions on the future of the U.S. dollar and the rising unemployment rate were superseded by questions about legalizing pot as an economic remedy.”
Got to hand it to the folks at Fox. (PS: For the record, Wired makes the same accusation!) National polls show that the public’s support for legalization has never been greater. Leading political and media pundits are now demanding that we end the criminal prohibition of pot. Yet despite all evidence to the contrary, the old guard at Fox News cynically clings to the notion that nobody supports taxing and regulating marijuana aside from a handful of “Internet trolls.” We report, you decide, huh?
Of course, Fox News didn’t come up with this spin on their own. After all, it was White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs — yes, the same Robert Gibbs who couldn’t come up with one valid reason to oppose regulating pot besides “uh” — who initially tried to downplay the popularity of marijuana law reform, telling the New York Times that “advocates for legalizing marijuana, … includ[ing] NORML, had mounted a drive to rack up votes for the question.”
So let’s set the record straight shall we. On the afternoon of March 25, with only a few hours left for voting in the White House’s poll, I posted the following blog to NORML’s homepage: “Obama ‘Open For Questions’ About The Economy — Ask Him To Support Taxing And Regulating Marijuana.” Here’s what I wrote in my post:
The topic of this week’s forum is the national economy, and not surprisingly, many of you have already put forward questions to the President regarding the taxation and regulation of cannabis.
For example, the most popular question in the category “Budget” is: “With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy?”
Similarly, under the topic “Financial Stability,” most asked question is: “Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislature to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?”
Marijuana-related questions also top the “Green Jobs and Energy” category, and are among the top vote-getters on the site overall.
That’s right, the questions pertaining to marijuana law reform were already the top vote-getters before NORML ever put pen to paper!
Further, NORML at no time engaged in any sort of “coordinated campaign” (to quote Fox) to “rack up votes” (to quote the Obama administration). NORML did not list-serv news of the White House poll to our tens of thousands of e-zine subscribers, nor did we publicize the poll to the hundreds of thousands of people that have joined us on Facebook and Myspace. And to the best of my knowledge, no other marijuana law reform group did so either.
In short, there was no orchestrated “campaign” and there is no grand conspiracy. The simple explanation for the White House poll results is this: Marijuana law reform is immensely popular with the public. That’s why we win initiatives — time and time again. And that’s why when the public is asked whether they support ending prohibition they say ‘yes’ — in overwhelming numbers!
As my colleague Scott Morgan writes at stopthedrugwar.org: “This is a movement, and it isn’t going away. Our issue is bigger than the organizations backing it.” He’s right.
Americans are demanding a serious and objective political debate regarding the merits of legalizing marijuana. They have come to this conclusion on their own — simply by witnessing the failure of the drug war all around them.
President Obama, the time for adolescent jokes and giggles is over. Fox News, the time for insults has long passed. The public is serious; why aren’t you?