Obama Won't Say Why He Opposes Marijuana Legalization

The overwhelming popularity of marijuana questions on the president's website has repeatedly forced him to address the issue, yet his answers are utterly lacking in substance. From Change.gov in December:

President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

And at today's event:

"No, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy."

As lame as these responses are, you can bet he'd never have said anything at all if marijuana questions hadn’t repeatedly pulled the most votes on his website. There's a subtle and revealing undertone to all of this insofar as Obama has publicly declined to actually challenge the merits of our argument in any way.

For all of the stereotypical anti-pot talking points at his disposal, Obama chooses to take the softer path of pushing the matter aside as best he can and moving on. Is that because he can't refute our arguments, he doesn't want to, or both? I'm operating under the assumption that 1) Obama privately agrees with us, but remains concerned about the political consequences of associating himself with that viewpoint, and 2) Obama has enough respect for the potency of our movement that he doesn't want to piss us off any more than he has to.

As frustrating as all of this is, we'd be foolish to miss the significance of our success at strong-arming the reform argument into a high profile discussion of the economy. It's not everyday that a sitting president is forced to comment on the legalization of marijuana. The fact that this even happened means we're doing something right.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Obama on Face the Nation

Obama will be on Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer this weekend. Please let CBS know that you want Obama to answer our serious questions seriously.



CBS won't challenge him, especially in this area. They are lap dogs. Paid for and owned by the Dems.

That being said, no reason not to give them an ear-full!

C the BS

probably submitted the questions to the White House for approval weeks ago.

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

I would be astonished if Obama were to take any kind of lead in legalizing cannabis production and personal use for other than medical purposes.  The proto-Nazis would be all over him for it, and it would distract from other things Obama is trying to accomplish.

That said, Obama isn’t setting up the typical legal road blocks previous administrations have employed that thwart any and all attempts at reform.  Federally funded research on marijuana will now be going forward, I hope; and Obama’s position on medical marijuana has been made clear to the public, if not to the DEA.  He still needs to fire all the Bush administration’s federal prosecutors and replace them with Democrats to help de-motivate existing political demagoguery within the justice department over the marijuana issue.  If prosecutors won’t prosecute, that’s it.  Game over.

One factor intimidating politicians on the drug issue is that they don’t want to be held responsible later on for any problems that might accrue from drug legalization.  This is not a realistic issue when talking about cannabis, but it can be seen by some as an issue with other types of drugs.  Of course, it’s still a hypocritical position, since the social and political damage done by prohibition (re: Mexico) is far worse than anything legalizing and regulating drugs might do.

It is possible Obama hasn’t seen the numbers relating to hemp economics.  Perhaps he doesn’t know the cost-benefit ratios with regard to shutting down drug prohibition and diverting part of the billions of dollars saved into harm reduction policies.  In that sense, he may need to be apprised of the latest data.  He certainly won’t get any positive data on the subject from the ideologically-driven DEA, ONDCP or NIDA.  The truth will necessarily come from us.

In the future, I would like to see questions put to Obama about the drug issue framed in a way that allows him a more positive and serious response.  For instance, does Obama think (as Jimmy Carter did) that the punishment in a drug prosecution should fit the crime?   Does he favor a harm reduction approach to drugs?  Would he favor hemp production if state laws allowed it?

Any question that gives President Obama political neutrality and elbow room on the subject is likely to work better than one involving hypothetical and nebulous questions concerning potential cannabis economics.  Based on his actions, if not his words, I agree that Obama is on the side of drug law reform.  At the moment, however, he needs drug law activists to continue to blaze an easier political path favoring legalization.


Obama has consistently

manipulated the lexicon and played both sides of the argument at once. He is a lawyer who fancies himself an expert at lawyer-speak.

Dallas Morning News March 15, 2009

A brief 3 segment looping animation of a direct and in context quote of Drug Warrior President Barack Obama defining his War on Drugs policy.

In it he shows how he associates himself with "Harm Reduction" while actually defending more police and prisons. This is political double-speak at its rawest.

I guess the next move will be out in the streets

I am tired of typing. Im going to do something about this..I guesss I will start at my local court house.(chain of command and all) It is time to put some foot work in on this. I have sent out all the e-maiIs to the congress also the senete, and all my local reps, and suggest that all of you do the same. Go to www. normal.org, they will help us to keep up with this . I suggest that you become members and support them in this fuss. cause the shit is fixing to hit the fan. mrs sab of tn.


We need to change the movement to "HEMP REFORM" instead of "marijuana legalization." Marijuana has a bad connotation, given by the corrupt politicians and "Reefer Madness" in the 40's and 50's. We should not even use the word marijuana.

God put hemp on this planet for a reason, and the government assumes higher powers than God and makes anyone that has anything to do with it a criminal is absurd. Hemp is our greatest natural resource.

The industrial value is worth billions. There is over 25,000 different products that can be made from hemp.

The medical value is worth billions. Cannabis is one of the safest, least toxic drugs that you can take, and can be effective in treating over 250 different illnesses and conditions.

The recreational value is worth billions. Cannabis is a hell of a lot safer than alcohol. There has been no documented fatality from cannabis.

Can anyone tell me the real reason hemp is illegal?

why hemp is illegal

To answer your question: I think the real reason hemp is illegal is precisely what you have stated above: "The medical value is worth billions... effective in treating over 250 different illnesses..." thus hemp represents a threat to the pharmaceutical (legal drug dealer) industry's profits. Another reason might be that law enforcement is paid off by illegal drug dealers who have a vested interest in keeping hemp illegal and therefore expensive. As the saying goes, if something does not seem to make sense, "follow the money..."

Voter Registration Protest

If you are a Democrat then show your anger by downloading voter registration forms and changing your registration to Independent, Green or Libertarian.

Personally I changed to Independent in 1996 in contempt for the Democrats and their pandering to the drug war.

Protest! Express yourself!





In Office

He's in there now and he is not going to cheat the police out of the best money making scam to come along in our history. He will throw out a few tokens and make it appear like he did his best, then shift focus and attention.


One daily action that reformers can take is to search Google News each day for current news stories on the topics of 'drug war', 'mexican border', 'marijuana', 'medical marijuana' and any other topic that strikes you on any particular day. Then find newspapers with forum threads. Especially papers in your state or region. Go to those thread and argue the issues with people.

Also, write letters to the editor at the papers with stories, opinion columns or editorials about policy.

Make a point to make a reference, (preferably negative), to state legislators and/or members of congress and/or president Obama and/or the two dominance political parties in the letters to the editor and on the forums. Make the politicians feel the pressure.

A letter a day will make the drug war go away.

Take this fight to the cyber streets of America.





You can also download voter registration forms and change your registration from Democrat to Independent, Green or Libertarian. The three groups that respect and reflect the social justice values of drug policy reform.

re "why is hemp illegal"

I think hemp is illegal because the cotton and oil based synthetics industries don't give a fig for free market capitalism. Just ban the competition is what they believe in. Since the South doesn't totally control the federal gov't anymore, maybe something can be done about it.

Yes We Can

The Democrats need a better candidate in 2012.

Mike Lewis

"Obama Won't Say Why He Opposes Marijuana Legalization"


Obama is an asshole. Assholes are only capable of giving people shit.


President Obama,

Why does it make sense to spend money arresting and imprisoning nonviolent drug users? Would you be better off today if you were arrested for your drug use? What about all those responsible drug users who are productive members of society--why should they be subject to criminal sanction? Wouldn't legalizing marijuana in particular break the backs of the Mexican drug cartels, who depend on its prohibition for their profits?

Democrats are not for reform

Neither are Republicans. There may be a few on each side who do support reform of our drug laws, but they are few and far between. For example:
Jim Webb: Pot Legalization Could Be Part Of Criminal Justice Overhaul

The growing prison population has bipartisan roots, which I explore in a book [to] be published soon, This Is Your Country On Drugs. Throughout the 1980s, Democrats in Congress and state governments around the country increased prison sentences for drug offenses, coming down particularly hard on crack. In 1986, Congress instituted mandatory-minimum sentences for powder and crack cocaine. To trigger the powder minimum, a dealer needed to possess 500 grams. For crack, just five grams. Two years later, the law was extended to anybody who was associated with the dealer -- girlfriends, roommates, etc.

In 1991, Michigander Allen Harmelin argued that his life sentence for possessing roughly a pound and a half of cocaine is cruel and unusual. The Supreme Court ruled that it is neither. California enacted its three-strikes law in 1994 -- three felonies equals a minimum of 25 years -- and the feds one-upped the state, declaring a third felony to result in life without parole. Twenty-three more states enacted three-strikes laws by 1995.

Both parties are at fault here. Abandon them the way they abandoned all of us.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!


Look people Obama is a politican and if he would have came out regardless of the fact and said "Yes I am in favor of legalizing marijuana" would have been poilitical suicide. This man is a lawyer also but we muct read and listen to the whole statment he made this is something that is going to have to be done back door because we're in an age unlike any before. We have almost immediate access to news and communication. The republican base and right wing thinkers are looking for a single reason to undermind him and that would have giving them a huge one. However the fact that he did address the question and gave a vague answer says a hell of alot, and is far better than him saying an absolute no to legization he has left room, for example when his press sectary was pushed on the question part of his response was to defer to the justice department. Plus his appointments show a sign that his policy towards marijuana is a huge change in what the past policies were, i.e attorney general Holder who is an outspoken avocate for legalization. We must keep this movement goin because the big money is talking loudly about it and thats where for all real purposes is where huge movement happens. People we have stock market type people saying hey there is a huge market out there for this and I can make money here just like with the alcohol industry in the great depression. Unlike then FDR could say I will repeal proabition because not alot of political capital was at stake at that time because it took so long for the news to announce it he was already in the act of repealing it. Now with the access we have to the news tho the internet if he said that he would be swormed with email and all kinds of things from those that are against it regardless of the numbers for it. So we need to calm down and keep the grassroot of this movement working and not demonize the president.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School