This morning, a student from Schnecksville, Pennsylvania asked President Obama about lifting the prohibition of prostitution, gambling and drugs as a way to stimulate the economy. The audience erupted with laughter.
“Mr. Obama, I really appreciate how you are trying to stimulate the economy to help this country out[…],” the student from Lehigh Carbon Community College said into a microphone. “I was wondering if maybe you checked out some of the statistics about legalizing prostitution, gambling, drugs and non-violent crime in order to stimulate some of the economy?”
“I appreciate the boldness of your question. That will not be my jobs strategy,” Obama said to laughs, cheers and claps.
I know The President was speaking in front of a bunch of giddy college students, but it bugs me that these questions are taken as a joke when, as the student pointed out, science says prohibition of drugs and prostitution doesn’t work and stats show legalization could be a huge boost to the economy (gambling is already legal in many places across North America).
Maybe it just reminded me too much of a similar shrugging-off by Obama of the drug prohibition question at a virtual townhall meeting last March when the marijuana legalization was at the top of an online poll.
“There was one question that voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation,” Obama said. “And I don’t know what this says about the online audience, but […] this was a popular question. We want to make sure it’s answered. The answer is no, I don’t think that’s a good strategy to grow our economy.”
Jack Cole, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition said it best after Obama’s townhall comments:
“Despite the president’s flippant comments today, the grievous harms of marijuana prohibition are no laughing matter. Certainly, the 800,000 people arrested last year on marijuana charges find nothing funny about it, nor do the millions of Americans struggling in this sluggish economy. It would be an enormous economic stimulus if we stopped wasting so much money arresting and locking people up for nonviolent drug offenses and instead brought in new tax revenue from legal sales, just as we did when ended alcohol prohibition 75 years ago during the Great Depression.”