In an interview with Rolling Stones magazine, President Obama noted that marijuana should be treated like cigarettes or alcohol, and not be criminalized. Good. I and the majority of the population in this country agree with you. (Finger snap) (Finger snap) You are the president of the United States. Mr. President, Barry … if you believe that then please, take at least one progressive stand and end this obscene policy on marijuana.
And it is obscene. The “war” is an utter sham. In a 22 year old interview recently published in Harper’s magazine, Richard Nixon’s domestic policy chief, John Ehrlichman told Harper’s Dan Baun, “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people,” he continued, “You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities …We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” Richard Nixon dredged up a policy of locking up blacks and “hippies” out of political expedience. He admitted it. The entire underpinnings of this “drug war” has been gutted. Why are we still having this conversation?
The United States has 5% of the world’s population with 25% of the world’s prison population. 1 in 111 adults are incarcerated; that is the highest incarceration rate in the world. According to the ACLU, marijuana accounts for over half of all drug arrest. And remaining consistent with Nixon’s original purpose, despite all racial demographics using marijuana in roughly equal rates, Blacks are 3.7 times more likely than their white counterpart to be arrested. Adding to the obscenity, 57% of the people incarcerated in state prisons for drug offenses were either black or latino, despite Blacks and Latinos each only making up roughly 13% of the population. We should be clear, the United States government is using our tax dollars to lock human beings in cages for using a product that’s less harmful than the alcohol on the breath of the judge that decided to lock them in that cage. These people lose their right to vote, their ability to find work is diminished, they cost the state money versus paying taxes, there’s a clear racial bias in the execution of drug laws, and morally, stealing people’s freedom for a personal choice that doesn’t affect anyone else is just fundamentally wrong.
Also, if this is a war, it’s a proverbial Vietnam. We spend more than $51,000,000,000 a year to take bodies and wreck lives, but if the point is to stop or hinder drug use, then this war is a miserably failed endeavor. 1 in 8 adults admitted to smoking pot, according to Gallup polling, that number has nearly doubled in three years. 28 states have legislatively rebuffed the federal government and legalized at least medical marijuana, with some going further to legalize recreational use. And like the other disastrous war, public opinion in has shifted against the U.S. government’s position with now a majority (58%) of people believing ‘pot’ should be legalized. 1 of which being the president of the United States. It’s time to concede this wrongheaded strategy.
President Obama, more specifically, I’m speaking to “Barry”. The flagrant and youthful law breaking, pot smoking Obama from about 30 year ago. It could’ve just as easily been you being “stop and frisked” or pulled over in a random traffic stop and put into one of those cages. You are in a position to stop a policy that has been proven to have been started out of racist political opportunism and has crippled lives for 60 years, while costing the federal government billions. You agree with the progressive position, great! The majority of the states are behind you. The majority of the public is with you. You’re the president of the United States, muster some courage. Before you leave office, stand for something! Change the scheduling of marijuana to decriminalize it, pardon people in prison for nonviolent drug offenses; it is well within the scope of your power to do so. Don’t just say it, mean it. Do it!