That would require "shifting resources and being strategic," he said, citing lengthy waits for drug treatment. "We also have to look at what we're doing with nonviolent first-time drug offenders," suggesting that drug courts could be an answer. "These are all issues worth exploring," he said.
Legalization and related issues made more than a respectable showing in the lead-up to Thursday's YouTube "Ask Obama" forum -- of the top 200 most popular questions submitted, nearly all were on drug policy. The legalization question followed other questions submitted about jobs and the economy, education, a series of "personal questions" ("What's the best and worst thing about being president?" "Who will win the Superbowl?"), the role of social media in the ongoing Middle East unrest, US policy in Iraq and Afghanistan, and energy policy.
"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," responded LEAP executive director Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop. "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."
Following his 2011 State of the Union address, President Obama asked the public to submit questions for an exclusive YouTube Interview that took place Thursday. The "Ask Obama" forum promised to take questions from the American people on the issues they find most important in terms of national policy.
Obama Says Drug Legalization Worthy of Debate
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