Obama’s Sly Way of Legalizing Drugs

The President has been called many things by many people during his short reign, but I can’t recall anyone ever referring to him as dumb.  Even most of his biggest critics openly admit he is intelligent and well-spoken, despite their obvious loathing of everything he appears to stand for..

Then there is drug policy, where Obama has literally appeared all over the map during the course of his political career.  A place where his ignorance has been so large at times, he’s actually boasted of it!  His most recent move appears to be quite simple:  due to overwhelming popular demand, the legalization of all drugs has become a topic worthy of serious debate.  Here’s a clip of a recent article found at the website of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (click here for full article with video):

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Responding to LEAP, Obama Says Legalizing Marijuana and Other Drugs a “Legitimate Topic for Debate” (Press Release)

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, in response to a video question from a former deputy sheriff about whether it is time to discuss legalizing and regulating drugs in light of the failure of the “war on drugs,” President Barack Obama said that it is “an entirely legitimate topic for debate” but that he is not in favor of legalization.

The President then went on to say that he sees drug abuse as a public health issue and that a shifting of resources is required, away from the traditional approach of incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders.

“The president talks a good game about shifting resources and having a balanced, public health-oriented approach, but it doesn’t square with the budgets he’s submitted to Congress,” said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of cops, judges and prosecutors who support legalizing and regulating drugs. “The Obama administration has maintained the Bush-era two-to-one budget ratio in favor of prisons and prosecution over treatment and prevention. It doesn’t add up. Still, it’s historic that the president of the United States is finally saying that legalizing and regulating drugs is a topic worthy of discussion. But since the president remains opposed to legalization, it’s clear that the people are going to have to lead the way. Police officers and innocent civilians are dying every single day in this drug war; it’s not a back-burner issue.”

The president’s comments today, part of a forum organized by YouTube where people could submit and vote on questions, came in response to a question from MacKenzie Allen, a LEAP member and a retired deputy sheriff who did policing in Los Angeles, CA and King County (Seattle), WA. Allen’s question got the most votes in the contest, garnering twice as many as the second most-popular question

By simply acknowledging that the legalization of drugs is “an entirely legitimate topic for debate”, he has done a complete about-face since last year when he repeatedly ignored similar questions and stated bluntly that the word legalization was not in his vocatulary.  In his assessment that “he sees drug abuse as a public health issue and that a shifting of resource is required, away from the traditional approach of incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders”, members of LEAP and others pushing for sanity from government ought to take great comfort.  And their cue.

When the Attorney General’s office released their infamous memo regarding the pseudo-legality of “medical marijuana”, it didn’t make huge headlines or cause massive speculation on its impact right away.  A seemingly small policy shift took effect and began impacting millions of people all over the country, myself included.  Based on the acknowledgement that certain sick people aren’t necessarily criminals, multi-billion dollar industries have been born and others (such as grow light manufacturers) have seen their revenues increase dramatically.  It has been widely likened to a gold rush, signifying that full legalization across the country could easily be enough to lift us out of this recession and obviously will not result in the violence and chaos threatened by prohibitionists throughout the ages.

A serious debate on the effects of ending prohibition is what the men and women of LEAP have been working for all along, and we now have the President of the United States effectively calling for a debate on the topic.  A truly genius move from our esteemed leader, which can surely have but one outcome.

Perhaps now would be a good time to remind the reader of a similar debate which took place at CBS News back in November, 2009.  Here’s a bit of what I wrote about it at the time:

Insanity on display in first major drug policy debate (Thank you, CBS!)

On November 9th, CBS News published an article entitled ‘Should Pot Be Legal?‘  Far from being just another editorial discussing the failings of our current system, it was actually the first of a two-part debate between an adviser for the Drug Free America Foundation, David Evans, and a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, James P. Gray.  The full text is well worth reading no matter what side of the debate you are on, although if you are looking for a well-reasoned argument in favor of our current laws then you are fresh out of luck…

The CBS article is entertainment at its finest for those of us pushing for reform; but for David Evans and other die-hard prohibitionists, it must have been brutal.

Obama’s coming debate promises to be even more entertaining, giving him a chance to let the experts (LEAP) guide him in developing real drug policy reform under the spotlight of a populace screaming for drug policy reform.  Suck on that one, Karl Rove!


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