President Obama: No To Decriminalization, Yes To More War On Some Drugs

Ironic kudos to Political Rhetoric graduate student ‘Steve’ from the University of Maryland for asking President Obama last Friday a spot on and searing rhetorical question from the Millennial generation about our country’s need to end the nation’s longest war…the failed war on some drugs.
Steve gets it. The audience gets it. According to all polling, in excess of 90% of U.S. citizens broadly believe the ‘war on drugs’ is a failure (75% support medical access to cannabis. 73% support decriminalizing adult possession for cannabis; and 46% support cannabis legalization outright).
When will the two major political parties and presidents—like Obama—get it?
According to polling last week, President Obama is quickly falling out of favor with the Millennial generation that helped sweep him to power in 2008. Lest President Obama forget who brought him to the dance, he might want to look at the clear discontent—across all party lines—with the way the federal government has been conducting drug warring, notably its full-throat perpetuation of antiquated and tax-draining Cannabis Prohibition policies.
Instead, he should deliver a clear message for supporting a system of legally controlling cannabis, rather than deny economic reality, waste taxpayers’ money and constantly face embarrassing questions about a failed public policy that has long festered in the public’s mind.
President Obama should endorse a ‘drug peace’ where cannabis is legally controlled like alcohol products; patients can access a safe and non-toxic naturally occurring medicine; and farmers, entrepreneurs and consumers in America can benefit from industrial hemp production.
President Obama, NORML and tens of millions of cannabis consumers and lovers of liberty ask you not to re-commit us to war against ‘weed’, but, instead, to re-think the leaf.

By David Edwards of Raw Story

President Barack Obama said Friday that the U.S. would not be ending its war on drugs under his watch.
“Much is being asked of our generation,” a doctoral student named Steve told the president at a town hall event in Maryland. “So, when are our economic perspectives going to be addressed? For example, when is the war on drugs in society going to be abandoned and be replaced by a more sophisticated and cost effective program of rehabilitation such as the one in Portugal?”
“I have stated repeatedly — and it’s actually reflected in our most recent statement by our office of drug policy — that we need to have an approach that emphasizes prevention, treatment, a public health model for reducing drug use in our country,” Obama said. “We’ve got to put more resources into that. We can’t simply focus on interdiction because, frankly, no matter how good of a job we’re doing when it comes to an interdiction approach, if there is high demand in this country for drugs, we are going to continue to see not only drug use but also the violence associated with the drug trade.”
After several minutes of explaining U.S. efforts to help Mexico fight transnational drug dealers, the president got to the point.
“Just to make sure that I’m actually answering your question, am I willing to pursue a decriminalization strategy as an approach? No.”
“But I am willing to make sure that we’re putting more resources on the treatment and prevention side,” Obama added.
Watch the video from MSNBC, broadcast July 22, 2011 here.

168 thoughts

  1. WTF is wrong with this lame Government? If its for the people by the people then why is it not at least decriminalized since 73% support decriminalizing? Our Government needs to start listening to us!!!

  2. PLEASE Obama, just take a few tokes in Cali. They’ll hook you right up there in Humboldt. Marijuana Deficiency Syndrome is fixable!!

  3. Obama has been a big disappointment on so many issues. I really don’t know which candidate will be worse: one of the likely Republicans, or Obama.
    I thought Obama would be somewhat progressive on this and other issues. Instead, he tries to posture as “serious” and tries to be and cater to the authoritarian faction of the center right.

  4. Little Gypsy: Its actually easier to see than one would think. Politicians actually obey a very simple set of rules that I feel can be expressed in a very simple equation. MONEY=POWER If you look at current wealth distribution in the US it is not even surprising how almost all of our current US policies are the way they are. They are policies that favor the rich. In my opinion our entire government, (Especially the Supreme Court as of late) represent only the top 1% of households in America. They have no problems affording prescription drugs, or care that people get locked up for life. They control the money, they control the power. Now, all they have to do is fool the rest of the 99% into conforming. Welcome to current US domestic policy. Once again, this is my opinion on the matter, though the 1% figure I speak of is well documented. Thats why we got to choose between the worst, they don’t represent us at the end of the day. They look like us, they talk like us, but they couldn’t be more disconnected from our lives.

  5. Police, lawyers, social workers, and so on all get paid for keeping canabis a crime.
    In business, the alcohol and tobacco industries want it to remain a crime to protect their profits.
    Worst of all is the private industry prison system. Its insidious purpose by definition requires ever more citizens be thrown in prison for them to remain a growth industry.

  6. lets take away his beer and cigarrettes, and see how he likes it. Maybe if we took his beer away he woukd sober up and stop blowing our money. 4 billion dollars a day on useless causes.

  7. Yet some crazy people on here will try arguing that Obama will still decriminalize in his second term. This is what you get when you vote for the lessor of two evils, and when you constantly regurgitate the non-truth that a 3rd party vote is a wasted vote.

  8. Obama, you simply need to legalize marijuana. Sometimes we must sacrifice and comprimise to reach our needs. No cuts needed to reach many or all goals. We as a country could use revenue of this herb of many uses. No matter which source prosperity comes,its source is GOD! And he has given an answer,use it……

  9. All Politics Are the same,elections time all the promises,change,marijuana legal bla bla bla,but when the get in office a 180 degree turn,when your gonna lear people,dont trsut politician under no circunstance,sorry my english am not american

  10. He is letting the states decide by letting the issue come to a head. Painful and necessary. “We” shall overcome, but it will be up to “us” not “him”.

  11. The short-sightedness of the American government never ceases to amaze me. This question has been actively asked and denied since the 70’s. We are not asking them to sanction the use of heroine on the streets. We are not asking them to let us smoke in the streets. Don’t they understand that if you make marijuana legal, there won’t be any reason for the “Mexican Mafia” to smuggle it in, thereby rendering the drug problem at the border substantially reduced? Not to mention the obvious tax benefits of taxing and controlling it like alcohol?
    I am so sick and tired of the bullshit over this age old nonsensical debate. States rights are being ignored. Patients are being denied a drug that would benefit many, blah, blah, blah….we all know the argument. WAKE UP MR. PRESIDENT AND THE REST OF THE ELECTED OFFICIALS!!! NO MORE VOTES FOR YOU!!! IT’S TIME FOR THE NEW GREEN PARTY!!! If we would all take this seriously and put our votes where our mouths are, maybe, just maybe, something would finally get done!

  12. To quote a great man,
    I’m the one that has to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life, the way I want to.

  13. why cant i choose my own experience if i dont hurt anyone else… why cant we just criminalize stupid actions? If it was up too them life itself would be illegal because it entails danger. i am not free on my spiritual path and i am enslaved to the lawss of a christian government that wrecks the lives of the curious and the weak.. the smart and the dumb.. for the age old human exploration of intoxication. give me back my mind… it doesnt belong to you and your fears.

  14. Rethink the Leaf – that is good stuff, NORML.
    Call your congressman, NORML has good notes on how to do it.
    http://capwiz.com/norml2/issues/basics/?style=comm
    Tell them 2 things:
    1. I urge you to support and co-sponsor HR 2306.
    2. I demand this simple definition of marijuana,
    which actually shows respect for our Constitution:
    The term ‘marijuana’ means all parts
    of the smoke produced by the combustion
    of the plant Cannabis sativa L.
    Make the call.

  15. I wonder how well he would’ve done if every marijuana smoker didn’t vote for him in 2008..? (yes, haha, for those who say something stupid like, “It’s not like the pot-smokers even remembered to vote anyway.”) His response is expected. His sudden harsh stance however is complete bullsh*t. It’s his fault for letting Michele Leonheart back into heading the DEA. They’ll never learn and it’s a sad state of affairs these days. At least it’ll be legal when my grandson is old enough to responsibly smoke…

  16. What did anyone expect from Obama?
    Like the fable about the scorpion and the frog, it’s ‘in his nature’.
    A permanent state of ‘war on terror’ overseas and at home, a permanent state of ‘war on drugs’ overseas and at home, a virtual police state (national security surveillance police state) at home, rampant corruption from our defense contractors, even more blatant corruption by our central bank, the wall street mobsters, and the tbtf banksters — none of which policies this country can continue in any fiscally viable manner.
    If we shut down the federal government rather than raise the national debt ceiling, do you support we could end these neo-con / neo-liberal corporatist agendas? Better that than looking for funds from medicare, medicaid, and social security to fiscally prop up the USA ‘age of imperial empire’ status quo.

  17. What did anyone expect from Obama?
    Like the fable about the scorpion and the frog, it’s ‘in his nature’.
    A permanent state of ‘war on terror’ overseas and at home, a permanent state of ‘war on drugs’ overseas and at home, a virtual police state (national security surveillance police state) at home, rampant corruption from our defense contractors, even more blatant corruption by our central bank, the wall street mobsters, and the tbtf banksters — none of which policies this country can continue in any fiscally viable manner.
    If we shut down the federal government rather than raise the national debt ceiling, do you suppose we could end these neo-con / neo-liberal corporatist agendas? Better that than looking for funds from medicare, medicaid, and social security to fiscally prop up the USA ‘age of imperial empire’ status quo.

  18. Good thing it isn’t up to him for much longer. Keep up the good fight boys and girls, we WILL take our country back, one leaf at a time.

  19. more resources? meaning tax money? that is being used as a war (resource) against a plant?! actually.. a ‘WEED’ ?!!??? come on smart guy!! we can do better than that!, then again… i did declare war on ants when i was a kid, so in a sense.. i do understand.

  20. Honestly, I wish Obama would work on marijuana law reform. But, this question was about the war on drugs in general. Not just marijuana.. So, I’m not so sure his response was all that far-out. I mean he’s talking about treatment. Such as rehabilitation and methadone clinics. Do you really want meth or cocaine to be decriminalized? I know I don’t. I would rather have 1,000 marijuana users living around me than 1 meth-head because that meth-head is an actual threat to society in general. I believe they should devote more of their funds and efforts to stopping the use and distribution of hard drugs and re-classify marijuana. Studies in the UK actually showed that cannabis is less harmful than tobacco, alcohol, or aspirin.

  21. I want to hear that prohibition terrorist say that crap while i have a hammer in my hand to smash one of his fingers for each wrong answer.
    i voted 4 that pc o crap too..
    Obama has made all black people look stupid, scared, and made them look and feel like slaves.
    No progress in tens of decades for the black man Mr President?
    once a slave, always a slave.

  22. sorry,, it’s ringing in my ears…
    YES, WE CAN… [fast forward to now]
    NO, No, no,,,, no we can’t

  23. The chickens come home to roost! When will you fools realize that your votes mean NOTHING? Power-mad politicians rely on your stupidity and gullibility to vote for “the lesser of two evils”. I refuse to vote for evil in any measure. When you sheep stop believing the lies these puppets of the global ultra-wealthy spew at you and look beyond their smoke-and-mirror tricks you may yet see the truth. Your government does NOT serve the people. Obama and his fellow pigs are traitors to the Constitution and the People of this once-great nation. Take your country back NOW, by ANY MEANS NECESSARY, or lose it forever to a handful of self-serving globalist pigs.

  24. Obama’s response was not surprising. I also doubt that if he is elected a second time round that he would be courageous enough to back legalization. With the failed war on drugs, and Mexico’s violence now in our backyard, you would think – at the very least – that supporting a medical marijuana program might be a sensible course of action. Oh well.

  25. NORML needs to stop acting like Obama is a great president “except” for the drug issue. The guy clearly doesn’t follow the Constitution, and lied. It’s as simple as that. There’s only ONE politician in Washington that both respects the Constitution (all the time) and supports legalization and that’s RON PAUL. FORGET OBAMA, he’s done, there’s no going back from what he’s done. NORML should support RON PAUL in 2012 if it truly cares about legalization.
    [Editor’s note: NORML is a non-partisan organization…it does not favor Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens, etc.]

  26. If the 2012 Rebublican candidate want’s an edge…they would be wise to get on the decriminalisation bandwagon and at the very least lie to us,like Obama did.By the statistics alone we could sway the votes either way.Perhaps, they think the Pro-Cannabis crowd will vote for Ron-Paul.
    But,perhaps the people that will vote for Ron-Paul where the ones that voted for Obama in 2008 and are dissolusioned with the lies..Appointing Michele Leonheart.didnt help either…. Bye-Bye Obama
    I doubt Ron-Paul will overcome the two party conspiracy,but,if Obama is going to act like a communist, he’s not getting my vote, again.

  27. Never seen so many Pubs support cannabis before in a Presidential run…forget the fed, go about changing the hearts of your friends family and neighbors..Then change your state…The fed will do nothing until all the heavy lifting has been done…

  28. This country is in big trouble, the lies will never stop. what ever happend to WE THE PEOPLE!!!. It does not matter who is in office they wil only do what they think is best for them. They dont care about all the lives lost or what going on in your neighborhood. Its all about the money. They say they are protecting you as they watch thousands of lives be ruined or lost. over a plant. MAN MADE MONEY GOD MADE THE PLANT.

  29. don’t bother politicians with facts, they are going to continue with this diarrhea of a policy as long as he can, which is what his predecessors did and what the next stooge in the white house will likely do.
    fucking hypocrites
    i wish festering boils on the lot of them
    “i piss on you from a significant altitude” – george washington hayduke

  30. @11 – For many years I have been bothered that we only get to choose between tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum. That is one of the main problems with our political system. We should have several candidates from each party to pick from! The second major problem I see is that we the people rarely get to vote for the policies and laws themselves. National, and in some cases, State votes should be taken for the laws and policies that govern us instead of letting tweedle-dee or tweedle-dum decide and cast their vote on our behalf; since more than half the time they get it wrong or they vote in a way that serves their personal interests.

  31. Well voting is good but money is better. I would like someone to start up a microbrew called normalbeer and donate some proceeds to norml. I would switch brands to it in a second as you all would too. And this not a commerical but in ohio the guy that wants to put med mj on our ballot also owns a very well known insurance co. So if your shopping sign up with him, we have to support the ones that are like minded. Just the vote won’t do it alone.

  32. tom @ 13.. I quit voting after Nixon won in 72. How could “they” re-elect a crook? A couple of years later I saw him on tv leaving the WH in a helicoptor. Eat your peas, O’Pharma eat shit!

  33. “Just to make sure that I’m actually answering your question, am I willing to pursue a decriminalization strategy as an approach? No.”
    When you only have 27% in your favor – it knocks me off my feet to hear you make such an arrogant statement which so defies the will of the people. You may be the bigger dog – but – the pack will put you down on the ground. If you’re worried about your image in history – you can forget that. As it stands right now – you have no image – and – if it weren’t for your 27% – you would be SOL.

  34. Don’t crap on the voters Obama,”legalize cannibis” for the revenue you seek for recovery not only in the USA but GLOBALLY! Do this and become one of the greats!

  35. Obama needs to work on his exit strategy. He has already lost many times over.
    Stay focus on the next presidential candidate, because those who are trying to spin you away from voting are already here.

  36. This is a good argument for setting 2 term limits on congress. This would decrease the amount of time that special interest groups, and lobbyists have to pollute the electorate. We need a major overhaul in our government, as it is now the tail is wagging the dog. I think fresh blood and ideas every 2 terms would solve many of these good ole boy, back room deals which many administrations are guilty of. It is obvious the function of government is not to represent the will of the people: “Gov. for and by the people” has become just rhetoric. Years ago there was a movement to throw the incumbent rascals out, and it worked, however we as the governed failed to continue to follow through, and apathy crept back in as the politicos threw the public a few bones to quiet the dog. Use your vote wisely and support representatives who must vote the will of the people, or face midterm ejection from their appointed roles. Private business would not have any problems eliminating malcontents who failed to support the ideology of their employers, in this case the American Citizens. Ron Paul may be an answer, but not the only one. We need some fresh idealistic candidates to start making themselves known.

  37. I can’t believe there are people on here who don’t support Ron Paul. For all you nay sayers look at his history. He has been around forever and people have made fun of him for a long time but he has stuck to what he says. If you don’t believe me look at his voting record and the bills he has sponsored besides HR 2306.

    If Ron Paul cannot help fix our country than we truly have gone past the point of no return.

  38. When the Luciferian Party gets done defeating God, selling out our country, anhialating our Constitution – and – create a police state – we will all have to learn how to say “Yeth Mathta.” Our spines will turn into a hunch back – our skin will turn yellow – our hand shake will be as firm as a wet noodle – and – we will drag our feet as we run from the master’s whip. How does that sound?

  39. Yet another politician going back on his word. How many marijuana smoking voters voted for Obama after his stance on not criminalizing MMJ users only to do a u-turn.

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