Obama’s Opportunity: Will the White House Snub Marijuana Yet Again?

Last week, the White House launched the next in its long line of social media engagement initiatives, this one entitled “Your Interview With the President.” The concept was simple, anyone could upload their question to the President on YouTube, others would vote on them, and the highest rated ones would be posed to the Commander in Chief in a Google+ Hangout on January 30th.

This seemed to be a logical opportunity to ask the administration about marijuana legalization. Last Tuesday, I posted NORML’s question to the White House YouTube page for consideration. We asked, “With over 850,000 Americans arrested in 2010, on marijuana charges alone, and tens of billions of tax dollars being spent locking up marijuana users, isn’t it time to regulate and tax marijuana?”

The reception was overwhelmingly positive, in just several hours the question received over 4,000 “thumbs up” votes and was one of, if not the, most popular question on the service. Then a peculiar thing happened, the question was removed. After becoming the most positively voted upon question in less than a day, the White House removed the question, deeming it “inappropriate.”

We informed our audience of the censorship and encouraged them to engage the White House on their own, using our question or a one of their own choosing. Over the next several days the program was inundated with marijuana law reform questions. At first, many met the same fate as our original question and were removed from the site. It seems our persistence ended up paying off and the page administrator finally gave up trying to censor the incoming questions and most marijuana inquiries have remained up since.

Voting closed last night at midnight and I made some rough calculations of the final results to see how we performed. Of the top 160 questions asked, marijuana reform questions accounted for 105 of them. Reposts of our question brought in an estimated 17,524 up-votes in addition to the 4,028 the original received before being removed. Combined, that is over 21,000 votes for one question, which is 5 times as many votes as any other question on the page. The 105 marijuana reform questions in the top 160 brought in over 74,000 votes, dwarfing any other topic. Our friends at LEAP posted a question as well and it ended as one of the top rated questions. You can read their coverage here.

Now, we wait. “Your Interview With the President” is scheduled to take place tomorrow, January 30th. Considering this is the same individual who previously stated that, “we need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws” and that legalization is a “perfectly legitimate topic for debate,” maybe he will take this opportunity to address the issue seriously for once. In an election year, this could go a long way towards winning back those who feel disenfranchised with the administration over a perceived lack of progress on the issue and amped up raids on medical programs in states such as California and Colorado.

The American people are ready for our debate Mr. President, are you?


139 thoughts

  1. Our last 3 United States Presidents all smoked Marijuana. Listen to them talk about their Marijuana use. This video includes tapes secretly recorded tapes of George Bush talking about his marijuana use. I think the time for legal marijuana has come! Click the website link to view and hear it!

  2. Seriously, what self-respecting American buys mexican brick-weed anymore?? I made the switch to U.S. grown weed 5 yrs. ago…support your countrymen!! Buy American grown Cannabis. I won’t buy it if it(cannabis), ain’t grown stateside

  3. Went there today to check the numbers. We are in 2nd Place with the LEAP questions, but they are no longer accepting votes or questions…

  4. “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” -H.L. Mencken

  5. I bet money he’s going to uphold the status quo about cannabis and say its a gateway drug and it would be easier for kids to get if it was legalized kinda bullshit..

    Obama is nothing but rhetoric. Get this clown out of office

  6. Can you imagine the support Obama would get by just decriminalizing marijuana and leaving it up to the states to choose what direction they want to go with this? Romney and Gingrich wouldn’t know what hit them. Too bad it won’t happen.

  7. For those that say on Paul is “unelectable”, let me remind you:

    “You voted for George W. Bush”.

    ANYONE is electable.

    Now, wake up and do the RIGHT thing for legalization and vote for Ron Paul.

  8. Sorry but he is not going to be reasonable he works for big pharma that is very clear. He only cares about money he doesn’t give a shit about all the people locked up in prison for marijuana because those are all poor people. If pharma and the oil industry backed the legalization of heroin or atomic bombs sold at grocery stores you could go and buy it tomorrow. These people make me sick. On another note I got my Ron Paul shirts today so don’t blame me for this mess 🙂

  9. Be prepared for best case scenario, more empty promises from this Potus. Everything is just a game piece to that man including sick people.
    With 55 companies working on diff chemical coumpounds from cannibis, there ain’t a chance in hell Obama gives a rat’s patoot about people. To him, not only are, corporati­ons people too, those corporatio­ns are worth millions in reelection donations. The sick people have little to offer him.
    Then add in the Cotton industry(clothing last 2 times as long from Hemp)
    Monsanto cannot corner the common MJ or hemp strains patent wise.
    ADM wants noo competition with Soy bean constituants.
    The tree farmers-weyerhouser ect don’t want compitition from farms producing 4x the fiber from an acre.
    Anhuser doesn’t want the alcohol competition.
    Philip Morris doesn’t want the ‘Tobacco’ competition.
    DuPont doesn’t want the ‘fiber’ competition.
    Johnson and Johnson doesn’t want the ‘asprin’ competition.
    The DEA-80 countries-60 offices doesn’t want to stop the competition.
    Wall Street doesn’t want the Drug dollars to quit coming.
    Banks sure don’t want to quit washing drug money.
    The Military loves the ability to decide Tribal nuances in supporting or denying a tribes harvest.
    For profit prisons getting 40K a yeara person to incarcerate love prohibition
    Drug testing companies are tring to get all scholl extra ciriculars mandantory testing (including ‘Band’ lol)
    Orgs trying to get all social programs mandantory testing
    Lawyers love iprohibition
    Parole officers love prohibition
    Bail Co.s love prohibition.
    Drug dealers love prohibition.

    Obama will just follow the money flow.

    When asked about the chances of Marijuana bieng legalized she responded,” No, there’s too much money in it.”

  10. If marijuana were fully legalized, taxed (what other platform these days is actuallly ASKING to be taxed?) and regulated:

    We would turn our national debt into a surplus in a year, local municipalities would benefit.

    Marijuana would be taken out of the drug cartel network, just as alcohol was removed from the mafia when it became re-legalized.

    Marijuana would be safer than it already is with an accountable track from production to consumption-no marijuana being laced with crack to bring on repeat customers. (I’ve seen this happen in my lifetime) No lacing ditchweed with synthetic marijuana.

    Contrary to popular belief, legalization FOR ADULTS would send a message to minors-that some things are reserved for adult privilege, and not appropriate for developing minds and bodies. The current illegality treats us all like children.

  11. yeah i put up a question also, on the last day before it ended..i got one like vote and one dislike..and than they shut me down too..

  12. Of course he will snub the ? Until we sue the White House to start true /open talks on cannabis we wont get no where . Mexico sue U.S.A to stop Pop from advancing in Mexico any more. And Mexico won U.S.A could could not invade Mexico no more Rse the money to sue the Government now N.O.R.M.L

  13. Where is the debate gonna go if Ron Paul doesn’t win the GOP nomination?

    It will either be a non-issue, or a “get tough” against cannabis users debate.

  14. Yes, Obama will keep snubbing the cannabis community. He’s doing nothing to call off the federal dogs. Any progress has been made by the states, and only when enough states have medical cannabis laws on their books will the federal politicians get out in front of the American people to make like they are leading the way and the people are following them. Except for Polis and a few others, nothing could be farther from the truth.

    The only way they will legalize cannabis is if they have no choice.

    States need the jobs and cannabis revenues.

    Keep running the economy into the ground until cannabis is legalized.

  15. wow it was pathetic, i like how he answers a question that got 400 votes but not one that gets 4000

  16. Not a word,,so sad,but now A,erica knows that the establishment is running from us,,and we didn’t even have a gun.

  17. I just got done watching the interview with the president on youtube and sadly the questions about marijuana reform laws were snubbed once again. What must we do as American citizens to be taken seriously by our elected officials?

  18. Well I watched the “youtube” presentation and was obviously disappointed that not one question made the presentation about Cannabis or legalization. Not surprising I guess, but will continue the fight as best I can with telling all I know and interact with about the amazing properties of that wonderful plant. And here I am, an activist and non-user due to work restrictions, but living vicariously through my wife who is a patient.

  19. The actions in avoiding the problem speaks volumes itself. We have to keep feeding the prison industrial complex bodies and we can’t do enough unless we through in the weed smokers. They (we) represent a big part of the volume of prisoners. We need legalization plus pardons. Prison is for people who smack you or take your stuff, not for marijuana smokers.

  20. What a revolting set of circumstances, even if you agree with some of the current policy and or direction promised by the administration you have to wonder if it is even worth voting in this election. I am glad some progress has been made by the states, but I do not see an avalanche of senators signing HR 2306, it will be real difficult for me to vote for anyone not cosponsoring this bill. I get replies from them on any other issue except this one that can offer immediate impact on health, the environment and the economy. If they don’t get my vote at least they will know why.

  21. How “inappropriate” to ignore the majority in a majority rule government! When medical research has to be done in secret or not at all for horrible diseases it’s insane. I doubt that there has even been any other medicine with so much promise that any country has made illegal to even research. Every time the US government allowed research to prove marijuana is harmful, the opposite was found. Then, they stop research and try to keep the public from knowing the truth! Enough “Reefer Madness” stop lying to us, stop imprisoning us, while allowing violent felons to go free because of prison over crowding! I have been raped, robbed twice and mugged, went to court and nothing happened to these criminals, yet they want to throw everyone in jail for a God given herb! The people making money off of other people’s misery are no better than Nazi’s, they are the ones who should be jailed! These are people are without scruples, human decency, conscious or compassion, and should be ashamed of themselves!

  22. “First they ignore you….” wait I thought we were past that step.

    Since the questions were fielded by youtube should we boycott youtube and google for dismissing our questions?

  23. Norml, lets have a printable for to send through regular mail. We can bog down their mail room if we all send on the same day. Lets Occupy the WH Mail room.

  24. First of all let me make this clear. Im entitled to my opinions as you are too. Not everyone will agree or disagree with me and that is fine. And I came to this site because I felt like it. I mean no offense whatsoever. Now then, in my opinion I don’t agree with legalizing marijuana. I know people already abuse drugs, but people may do that again if we legalize it(then again I can’t see the future so who knows what will happen….I could be wrong.). I know people do use it for medicinal purposes. I can’t say that I totally agree with that, but I know people will absolutely disagree with me. It’s good to have your own view on things. However, if a day comes where marijuana does become legalized, there should be extremely strict rules put in place so that it doesn’t become abused and those who do(the abusers…the ones who smoke it for non medicinal purposes, just for themselves for enjoyment.)abuse marijuana should be penalized harshly for not using the drug correctly. Anywho, even though I disagree with marijuana, I felt like it should’ve been addressed for those like you all so that you will be more informed. I felt like there should’ve been more diverse questions so I do understand how frustrating that must’ve been. Perhaps in the near future he may talk about it. It’s good to fight for what you believe in 🙂

  25. Anyone can understand this is coming to a head. Most people would say they see at least cannabis regulation coming. What I want to know is, what do the people that oppose regulation think is going to happen? Do they think that the movement to free cannabis is like a wave that one day will recede? That laws will get stronger and stricter for personal use, not lighter? That all of a sudden cannabis will stop healing people from horrible illnesses like Crohn’s disease and cancer(*source,National Cancer Institute)? That people will start dropping dead or getting greatly ill from its use like they seem to be on synthetic marijuana? That it will stop helping cancer and aids patients with appetite stimulation needed for the chemo treatments? That CBD, a non psychoactive, non toxic chemical in cannabis, won’t prove to protect nerves and be anti-tumor? Look.. Smoke it, consume the oil of the plant or don’t but let the freedom to choose be the people’s. Regulate Cannabis

  26. The President is so overloaded with economic, budgetary and mortgage-related justice issues that there is no reasonable expectation for the White House to involve themselves in any kind of Cannabis initiative. Considering the total opposition he gets from the GOP on virtually every issue with the intention of breaking and defeating him, how can any of us in the Cannabis community expect the White House to jump on this? A silent majority of support is meaningless in the current political environment. We need a majority that is willing to speak out publicly and back their position with their money and time. That won’t happen any time soon.

    We are in a decades-long battle and you’d better be ready for it if you want your efforts to matter. There are two strategies that can bring success to ending Cannabis prohibition: (1) Federal repeal; (2) State programs that are so successful and popular that the federal government can no longer afford to oppose them at all.

    In either case we’re looking at 30 years to overcome the economic and political opposition – essentially time enough for the baby boom generation to die off.

    No one is going to do it for us, especially not Ron Paul, as courageous as his Industrial Hemp proposal is. Do you really think the GOP would let him do this?

    Part of what we need to accomplish is a buildup of support within the Democratic party for ending prohibition. It will take time. Many Democrats are closet sympathizers, but in the current climate will not ‘out’ themselves to support us.

    We need to change the language to shift the dialogue. Stoner language will get us nowhere. The GOP spent countless dollars and years planning their propaganda and dominance, and going back previous to that, both parties were putting fear into middle class white America with well place appeals to xenophobia. If you are still using the term ‘marijuana’ this is perfect proof.

    If our movement doesn’t take on the language and posture of moral authority, not just tacit majority approval, then we will not win this fight in our lifetimes.

  27. Real hypocrisy coming from a president who sneaks cigarettes behind his children’s backs and brews alcohol inside the whitehouse at the cost of the taxpayers.

  28. Just read a story about Giant Pythons and Anicondas in the Florida everglades. Former pets that were released into the wild and are now being spotted in residential neighborhoods. The article said the Obama administration was trying to ban further importation of giant and deadly snakes but had to back down due to pressure from the U.S. Association of Reptile Keepers.
    I know NORML’s not the NRA or AARP but are there relly more people who want a 16 foot snake in their backyard than want to smoke a joint without a SWAT team busting in their front door.
    Again I can’t help but think were missing something.

  29. I agree and norms should create a nicely worded letter we can all print out, sign, then have a set day we all send it in to flood the mailroom.

  30. To be taken seriously we have to do what every other single reform group in history has done: show the politicians we will refuse to vote for them if they do not support what we want changed. As long as politicians believe we will still vote for them why would they change? Look into our history and you will see the exact same tactic used over and over again: Woman’s right, workers rights, minorities rights, alcohol prohibition, the repeal of alcohol prohibition, unionizing, et cetera. As long as they believe we will cave on this issue nothing will get done. As horrible as it sounds I almost want Obama to lose this election, even though that would mean Newt or Mitt, so that the Democratic party realizes they cannot win as long as they oppose cannabis legalization and that they will lose unless their candidate supports legalization. They won’t change until we force them to. So we must force them to change through our actions Halo.

  31. “Samson says:
    January 30, 2012 at 12:19 pm

    Seriously, what self-respecting American buys mexican brick-weed anymore?? I made the switch to U.S. grown weed 5 yrs. ago…support your countrymen!! Buy American grown Cannabis. I won’t buy it if it(cannabis), ain’t grown stateside”

    Not everyone is as fortunate as you… I am a veteran and sometimes it is the only thing i can get my hands on. I am a self-respecting American… How dare you…

  32. Hey folks don’t worry, your vote doesn’t matter anyway. Just giving this president anymore attention by asking him for super special permission to get weed legal has to stop. Fuck him and the rest of Washington. There are only a handful of true progressives left that embrace legalization. Let’s give them the attention they deserve and ignore the noise in the center and right. BTW, it was only after the healthcare debate that big pharma got to Barry. He’s sold us out in his first year in office and it’s clear he’s not on our side. Obama is the 1% but pretends he’s fighting for the 99% just to get elected. Will it be worse under a Repube admin? Sure but at least we’ll know which one is our enemy.

  33. Why MUST I “DONATE” cash that I don’t have? Isn’t my voice and opinion what you are after? Or is it really the CASH? Kind of almost humorously hypocritical, yet, I support the idea. Just not with my cash! I need that for weed!

  34. I wonder what kind of answer or if he’ll say the question is inappropiate when asked how much money he got in monetary political contributions from Pharmaceutical and the Alcohol Corporates /………..

  35. Jules is right, do not lend your vote to anyone who does not endorse regulation and legalization. The person you vote for may not win but it will syphon votes away from the non-supporters. We really need Ron Paul to run independent syphon votes from both sides, and put the issue in the forefront. Most important is to get this done at the local and state levels also. The states are the body the fed is the head once the body goes down the head must follow. Use Facebook, use twitter, use viral videos on YouTube this has to be made popular. We need an apparently on the android and iPhone markets that show which politicians support legalization on all levels local state and fed. We can do it. We are the people, we are the power.

  36. Yo, Brandon Lee. Don’t try to make me look bad because I’d rather trade money with my fellow Americans….that is EXACTLY how I dare!!

  37. Their all a bunch of paid puppets doing whatever the highest bidders pay them to do .Gingrich, Romney and the rest of them….ha ha what a joke .
    They thrashed the hall of Justice in Oakland because their is no justice . They burned our flag because America is not what it was . Now filled with wars injuring,killing and destroying lives around the globe . Is pharmaceutical partially behind this ? You bet it is & the politicians keep getting more money while people throughout the globe are injured & murdered all for making money for pharmaceutical & the Corporations .

  38. Its kind of sad how they would take the question off. Is this not what the Americans want? If its such a big issue I just don’t understand why it would go unanswered.

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