What's the Point of Asking Obama to Legalize Marijuana? I'll Explain.

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In comments, Giordano questions the value of constantly confronting the President about marijuana legalization:

In the end, it makes no sense at all to ask Obama for anything more than what he’s already done for medical marijuana.  His candor on the subject of cannabis will probably wait for the day he’s no longer president, just as Bill Clinton waited before scoffing at U.S. marijuana penalties.

All of this is certainly worth explaining to anyone who genuinely expects the President to abolish marijuana prohibition. Yes, it's helpful to understand that he's not going to do that, neither next week nor on his last day in office. But I don’t think any willingness on the President's part to publicly support legalization is necessary to justify the strategic efficacy of hounding him about it at almost every opportunity.

I think we score points simply by making ourselves visible. Our early success at saturating the President's web forums was followed by an unprecedented surge in favorable media coverage. By the time the Michael Phelps saga erupted, we'd already established marijuana reform as one of the leading political issues on the internet. Web trends are measured in dollar signs like never before and we're now witnessing the rewards of our proven ability to generate clicks.

Obama's new medical marijuana policy followed on the heels of an epic escalation in positive marijuana reporting from the mainstream press. The White House's decision to leak the story to the AP on a Sunday night was a powerful exhibit in their newfound faith that you could actually score political points by placating people like us. It's hardly the end of marijuana prohibition, but it shows that we're doing something right.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Only Nixon Could Go To China

It took a hard-nosed, Republican, cold warrior, dropping mega-tons of bombs on North Vietnam to make pace with the Communist Chinese. If a liberal, 'peace-nick' Democrat had dared utter a like sentiment his political career would have ended that day. And, so it will take a hard-core, Republican, drug warrior to legalize marijuana. If Obama were to even suggest he's contemplating legalizing marijuana, he becomes a lame duck President. So look to the right-wing, red-side of the isle for one who can champion the cause.

Giordano

I agree with most of your post, all except your assessment of Obama's intelligence. I seriously question his intelligence, especially since he appears to be duplicating all of Bush's policies, and then some. His patterns of speech tell me he is not intelligent, just well schooled (there is a difference, you know), and jbtw, drive me nuts, the hesitations after every other word.

I wonder how close to the truth are the tabloid charges of million dollar "wild parties at the White House", if true that's not a very intelligent action.

I do not think we have had a truly intelligent president for decades, maybe a century or more.

I'm pro-choice on EVERYTHING!

The questions

Giordano: It's true that the quality of the questions varies considerably and that the White House, if forced to respond, will pick from the weakest pile. It's already happened.

But it sill helps us. We cannot tightly control the message when it's coming from tens of thousands of anonymous internet people, but as long as legalization becomes more widely recognized as a leading topic of political debate, our stock goes up. No one remembers the wording of the questions (except you and I), they just remember that legalization keeps proving to be the hottest issue on the web. This is huge as the major media outlets are now dependent on web ads for survival. The incredible increase in positive media coverage we saw in 2009 was all about marketing to this new online constituency. 

The hilarious part is that, early on, everyone thought we were gaming the contests. With each subsequent round, it's become clearer that our success isn't manufactured, it's real. I've long believed that our biggest obstacle to victory was the widespread perception among casual supporters that legalization just isn't possible and isn't worth investing in. I haven't heard anyone saying that lately.

Moonrider: I don't think there's any strategic value in convincing ourselves that the President is unintelligent. He may have complex reasons for doing things we don't like. If we assume he's an idiot, we may never understand what's really going on. In general, the drug war is a big stupid machine, but it's upheld by many intelligent people with complicated motives. 

Press

It seemed to me that the mainstream press did not start to write positive stories about marijuana until Obama called off the feds. Suddenly the press had some balls.

Actually......

What needs to be done in terms of legalization,should be done thru both houses.A major letter writing/petitions etc to all of our elected officials that have the power to CHANGE the laws.Obama I believe would go along with it.Bombarding the white house is trying to open the wrong door.Remember the supreme court decision several years ago?They are the ones who told the country how to go about changing the drug laws.I suggest we follow that road.

Obama probably won't answer our questions no matter what

so I'd phrase questions to maximize how foolish he (and all the other stonewallers) will look by not answering the question. Colorful phrasing is good because it might drawn publicity to the questions.

I think the feds are especially vulnerable on the subject of rescheduling cannabis from it's current status of having no medicinal use that they recognize. Their position is ludicrous AND contradicts the overwhelming opinion of Americans. I might phrase it something like this:"It's absolutely clear that cannabis has important medicinal uses, why does your administration persist in the claim that cannabis has absolutely no medicinal value?" And I would bug them on the MMJ research issue as well, that should also be a big loser for the prohibs in terms of public opinion. I'd also like to see a question that highlights how toxic many of the big pharma products are that patients are forced to use instead of cannabis.

Regarding changing minds about recreational use, I'd recommend focusing on changing minds in California this year (and hopefully Washington state as well).

I think the better question

I think the better question to ask Obama is what his administration's response would be if a state legalizes marijuana for recreational use. This might actually perk up the media to ask follow-up questions, since there is a very real possibility of a major federal-state conflict in the near future.

I say....Never stop

I say....Never stop confronting the President with important questions at every opportunity you get!! HO HO HO...puff, pufffff...Ganja Santa
I've got photo examples at Flixr.

inscrutable motives?

As Tim Leary pointed out years ago, no matter how intelligent a man may be who goes into the presidency, during his time in office he "blows a neurological fuse" from all the lying he must do, much of it quite beyond what he even anticipated. As far as Morgan claiming that there are "complex" reasons behind the motivations of the people who maintain the drug war, that's hogwash, unless you consider the profit motive complex.

marijuana isn't the issue, it's PROHIBITION

While I agree that holding our President accountable for the failed policies he continues funding, simply asking him to legalize marijuana does not address the real issue--which is that prohibition causes lots more problems than it could ever hope to solve. Sure, the large majority of drug war funding goes towards the laughable goal of "marijuana eradication"; but marijuana is far from the only schedule I narcotic to also be widely considered both a spiritual teacher and legitimate form of medicine (they're now referred to as entheogens in academic circles..)

My point is, I think that it is important that we focus on ending prohibition as a whole--not because of the growing cultural acceptance of marijuana, but because prohibition is a really stupid policy which has cost us so much money and ruined so many lives in the past seventy-five years that it is pointless to even try coming up with numbers.

They will fight tooth-and-nail against any and all drug policy reform, so we may as well go for the throat--that's the recommendation being made across the country right now by the heroic members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition who are working to educate both the public and policy makers about the horrendous failings of drug prohibition. They have all the stats you could ever want, and since they were all "drug warriors" at one point--they also ought to command some respect from those who would laugh in the face of drug policy reform.

Please visit their website at www.leap.cc and if you can afford a donation, I personally think that funding this incredible organization is the best tax-deductible way there is to help end prohibition. (And, no, I am not a representative of LEAP--just a very big fan of their ongoing, and expanding efforts.)

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