The staggering vote count and significant media coverage of the demand for discussion of drug policy in today's YouTube interview were too great to ignore. Obama gave us an answer this time, and here it is:
Update: Let me begin by saying that the substance of the President's answer is inconsequential insofar as nothing more than this could possibly have been expected. The greatest significance of today's event lies in the fact that a pro-legalization police officer overwhelmingly won the popular vote on YouTube and compelled a response from the President of the United States. By acknowledging the legitimacy of this discussion, Obama helps us to dig an even deeper grave for the dying notion that there is anything frivolous or unserious about arguing for an end to the War on Drugs.
The banal pot-jokes and rank stereotyping that have often tainted mainstream discussion of the legalization movement have no place in this conversation, and the President's words should serve to discredit those who've voiced distracting insults instead of potential solutions. Whatever else the President may put forward, his singular decision to accept and defend our advocacy as "entirely legitimate" is a leap forward, both for the discussion as a whole and for Obama himself.
I will address in a separate post the appropriate criticisms of his specific remarks (of which there are many), but let us not fail to find any promise in today's events simply because we expect much more. This is a heroic accomplishment by our friends at LEAP and really the entire drug policy reform community, which has achieved blinding visibility in recent years and shattered the presumption of public deference that has long sheltered the drug war from mainstream opposition.