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

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.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Question for candidates

This questions needs to be asked of every candidate who admits drug use in the past, but still supports criminalization: "You have admitted to using [fillintheblankdrug] in your past. Do you believe that you, or the country in general would be better off had you faced the maximum penalty for the supposed crime you committed in using and possessing said drugs?"

Obama on Medical Marijuana & Decriminalization

Right now it would be political suicide for Obama, or anyone, to come right out for decriminalization of marijuana. Too many survivors of the "Reefer Madness" generation are still alive. Which, I'm sorry to say is my generation. However I am a patient where there exist's no safer drug than Cannabis to control chronic nausea and vomiting from Diabetic Neuropathic Gastro Paresis (Paralyzed stomach muscles) resulting in delayed stomach emptying, resulting in severe chronic nausea and vomiting. There is no other known drug that controls nausea as safely and as effectively as marijuana. Used through a vaporizor the miracle vapors do there magic. Even just THC vapors are an irritant to the lungs which could be compared to safer than breathing the L.A. air. But hopefully Obama will stop the raids, allow the growing of medical grade marijuana for more research and legalize marijuana for those patients who could benefit from it's use. But this will take longer than just one presidency. The only one who would have had the guts to stop the "War On Drugs" was Ron Paul. But it will happen. The once maligned marijuana plant will be restored to its proper position as put like this, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest, most theraputically active substances known. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferer's and the substance." Francis L. Young DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge, 1988. Thank you Francis.

Slow Down

Right now it would be political suicide for Obama, or anyone, to come right out for decriminalization of marijuana. Too many survivors of the "Reefer Madness" generation are still alive.

What evidence do you have to support that assumption? I've linked a poll showing 72% support for decriminalization. Just because people like to go around saying "marijuana reform is political suicide" doesn't make it so. All available evidence suggests the precise opposite.

Let Obama

embarrass himself with politically evasive positions on social justice issues. This is what I expect of him. Never any leadership. Always the political expedient.

Obama, Clinton and McCain are too much a part of the problem to ever be part of the solution. Their only value is in providing platform to argue responsible drug policy reform issues vs their intransigence.

Ending the pot prohibition is in the congress hands. It always has been and it always will be. We can be using these campaigns, especially congressional campaigns, to push for H.B. 5843, "To eliminate most Federal penalties for possession of marijuana for personal use.."

In his new book Sen. Jim Webb talks about ending marijuana criminalization as a way to reduce crime. Rep.'s Barney Frank and
Ron Paul, in the press release announcing H.B. 5843, talked about the positive impact decriminalization will have on crime reduction. Crime reduction is an issue that motivates average Americans to support pot prohibition. Debunking that assertion of the drug war is a sure way to change American minds.

End Marijuana Prohibition in 2008

I got the same response

The Obama campaign also responded to my assertion that the campaign should be proactive with Barack's publicly stated 2004 position that he favors marijuana decriminalization.

His response. He doesn't support medical marijuana raids by the DEA.

That's great, but he's clearly ignoring the decrim issue.

Go on Facebook. Join this group and keep making Barack's flip-flopping on marijuana an issue in the papers and on the blogs.

Check out the group. Write Barack's campaign. Write a LTE.

Nah Dude

Lets get real here we all know Obama is pro decriminalization (and the best canidate ) .The anonymous poster was right Skittles. It would be suicidal to say it aloud or do anything at all about decriminalization leading up to, or in his first term (God willing). 72% of old white ladys, hicks and republ-ickycans are pro marijuana reform too? Because that's who matters right now. Opening his mouth on drugs is wicked dangerous. Lets not screw this up. We are going to win!!

Hard to pin down

[email protected],Vancouver,B.C.Canada I signed on to the web page so I'd be able to send just such messages.I just sent another one as the campaign is now asking for input for their run against McCain.It might be ignored but if they get enough people telling them to end the drug war,who knows.These people respond to the numbers.If they get the idea that their base wants drug reform.We just might get it.

The only way

to end the war on drugs is to oppose it and support candidates who oppose it.

Basing support for Obama on the lie that he supports reform but can't say so is not good policy. It is disingenuous.

Obama may well be the best of the evils running for president in 2008 but that does not make him the best drug policy reform candidate. Reformers who support Obama with the assertion that he must lie to win are lying only to themselves and other drug policy reform supporters.

Cynthia McKinney Anti War on Drugs Presidential Candidate

If you are only interested in voting for someone who will win then waste your vote on Obama who will win and then escalate the war on drugs just like he promises to do. (He supports escalating the Mexico war and he supports escalating the drug war into suburbia to equalize the racially disproportionate nature of drug war enforcement today.)

If you truly want to end the war on drugs then send Obama and the Democrats a message to that effect by voting for Cynthia McKinney who definitely opposes the Jim Crow war on drugs.

Obama's Official Positions on Drug Policy

I have received numerous form letters from Obama's office as I write/email/phone it regularly. They can be found at the website under but to entertain those who would like to know here are a few quotes;

"I am aware of the arguments that legalizing marijuana would make the drug more "controlled" or safer, and that it may curb the violence associated with the sale of an illegal substance."

"I understand the concerns of those who question [National Youth Anti-Drug Media] Campaign’s effects on youths’ decisions to use illicit drugs. A 2003 study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) determined that the campaign had been successful in increasing youths’ exposure to anti-drug messaging. However, the same study showed that the Campaign had no discernible impact on youth behavior."

"I am troubled by accounts of unnecessary force used on innocent people, especially when it results in tragedy as in the case of Kathryn Johnston, the 92-year old Atlanta woman killed by Atlanta police in a "no knock" raid. I also agree we need to ensure that our nation’s law enforcement officers are trained to prevent unnecessary use of force and violence.

Our law enforcement plays an important role in keeping our communities safe, and most of our men and women serve their communities with great care and pride. But we must ensure that our policies do not create an atmosphere where police tactics place innocent people at risk."

"Human health cannot be considered “collateral damage” in the war on drugs, and I can assure you that I will not support any measure that takes such a position."

This last quote is the oldest, dating back to 2006 when he was still "not going to run" for president and is the firmest position he took in any reply. It was in response to the ONDCP reauth act.

Check out the full formal replies if you wish and keep lobbying the politicians.

Dan Linn
Executive Director Illinois NORML

come on obama

you would not do bad supporting ending the war on your own people when i say that i mean for real change not a false one

Honesty... Not Welcome In The House of God & Gov't

'Truth is Treason in the Kingdom of Lies' - Ron Paul '08
'In the kingdom of the blind... the man with one eye is king' - Erasmus 16th Century

Drug Prohibition, then (on alcohol) and now (on marijuana), is a war waged by primarily extreme fundamentalist christians.

Society, under the continued dictates of the purveyors of gods and gov't, will continue to decline as truthes continue to erode alongside our rights, liberties, and freedoms!

The purveyors of Gods & Gov't have always been antagonistic to our civil rights and the rational debate required for critical thinking & informed decision making.

Our self-evident and inalienable rights are, too often, alien to the legions of fundamentalist judao/christians infecting our free 'egilitarian' society.

Always speak truth to power!

Just say no to gods & gov'ts... they are always more problem then solution!

Can Americans grow-up and shake-off their 18th century traditions?

Can Americans finally put religion and socialism in their proper place... upon the funeral pyre?

Obama Just Another Dictator!

Ah, what is the name of the constitutional amendment obama and the other demoncrats are proposing for national health care to be constitutionally legal?

Yeah, didn't think so! Just another populist usurper of the law! Tit for tat... imagine that! Another day... another dictator!

Look up the word 'promote' as it relates to ' promote the general welfare' and you will not find the word dictate or mandate? How's that possible alice wonders while sipping her tea! Another truth down the toilet... damn!

'Promote', however, does mean 'help forward' and 'encourage' (a cause, process)... which implies peaceful, non-coercive, means. Issuing forth mandates & dictates (under the threat of deadly force) is the definition of dictatorship & despotism.... that which we are supposed to overthrow!

If you really want 'to promote the general welfare' start by promoting the law and taking some responsibility for your own 'cause & effect'... which is usually detrimental to your own enlightenment... and vital to critical thinking and informed decision making.

Just say NO to gods & gov'ts...
always more problem then solution!

End the war on drugs. It has

End the war on drugs. It has failed miserably. It's a waste of taxpayer dollars. Incarcerating marijuana offenders, when we could reserve space for "real criminals" is a waste of taxpayer dollars.
The economy is in deep trouble. Legalize marijuana and tax it. Put the money in the hands of the government so we can spend more on our infrastructure, more on schools, more on health care is sensible economically. Why do we continue to support the money spent on marijuana each year to go into the hands of the underground economy.
Legalize, educate, and tax it. Our current legislation is a waste of taxpayer dollars.


Marijuana, like alcohol will continue to have ongoing use within the United States. Despite our federal policy on the substance, the vast majority of the public realize the inevitable truth that the negative aspects of the substance are far outweighed by the positive aspects it has to offer. Like any other drug (i.e. alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and cigarettes), marijuana abuse can lead to a variety of problems; however for responsible adults who use it in moderation, marijuana brings slim to no issues. The times have changed. Let us open our eyes as Americans and see the facts. Legalize it!

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