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The Obama Campaign Responds to My Criticism of His Position on Marijuana Decriminalization

Submitted by smorgan on
Last week I discussed what I called The Obama Campaign's Poor Handling of the Marijuana Decriminalization Issue. The post argued that Obama's recent back pedal on the issue of decriminalization was a mistake since marijuana decriminalization enjoys majority support in the polls and because he's getting accused of being pro-marijuana anyway.

A reader, William Aiken, forwarded the post to the Obama Campaign and got the following response:
Dear Friend,

Thank you for contacting Obama for America to inquire about the Senator's position on allowing severely ill patients to use marijuana for medical purposes.

Many states have laws that condone medical marijuana, but the Bush Administration is using federal drug enforcement agents to raid these facilities and arrest seriously ill people. Focusing scarce law enforcement resources on these patients who pose no threat while many violent and highly dangerous drug traffickers are at large makes no sense. Senator Obama will not continue the Bush policy when he is president.

Thank you again for contacting us.


Obama for America

Hilariously, the campaign staff responded to my criticism of Obama's vague position on marijuana decriminalization by restating the Senator's position on medical marijuana. The fact that they apparently have a form letter prepared addressing medical marijuana, but not marijuana decriminalization, goes directly to my point that Obama has failed to adequately define himself when it comes to decriminalization.

As I explained previously, Obama is widely believed to support marijuana reform, and will be attacked for that regardless of any statements he's made to the contrary. Thus, he is much better off defending whatever reforms he does in fact support, rather than distancing himself from the issue and allowing McCain to have the only clear position. At this point, Obama cannot say he supports "decriminalization" because he's backed away from that term, but he can still support reforming our failed laws, which would offer contrast to McCain's position, and maintain majority support from voters.

Finally, I'd like to thank William Aiken for sending the piece to the Obama Campaign and sharing their response. It's not like my post landed in Obama's lap or anything, but I've seen other examples in which bloggers were able to initiate important dialogues with public officials and/or mainstream media simply because many readers sent the same post to the same place at the same time. I tremendously appreciate this type of participation from readers.

(This blog post was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

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