Will Marijuana Give Obama the Giggles Again?

Tomorrow [July 6] President Obama is scheduled to take questions submitted via Twitter. If the past is any guide, a lot of the proposed queries will deal with drug policy, thanks to the enthusiastic efforts of antiprohibitionists mobilized by NORML and other reform groups. And if one of those questions is picked, it’s a good bet Obama will laugh before answering (or dodging) it. At a March 2009 “town meeting” featuring questions submitted online, Obama said:

There was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation. 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. All right.

Many critics, including our own Nick Gillespie, took Obama to task for the flippant, condescending way he addressed the question, which you have to watch the video to fully appreciate:

The president also treated the subject of drug legalization as a laughing matter at a January 2011 forum in which people posed questions via YouTube, although he sobered up a bit after watching a video in which MacKenzie Allen of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition asked him about ending the war on drugs:

“I think this is an entirely legitimate topic for debate,” Obama said. “I am not in favor of legalization. I am a strong believer that we need to think more about drugs as a public health problem.” Obama’s concession that legalization is a legitimate (though hilarious) topic for debate sits rather uneasily with his drug czar’s declaration that “legalization is not in the president’s vocabulary.” And whether or not Obama ever did get around to thinking about drugs as a public health problem, nothing much came of it.

Does Obama’s cannabis-induced laughter signify a) his nervousness about the subject in light of his ownyouthful drug use, b) his attempt to show he’s cool even though his drug policies are essentially the same as his predecessor’s, or c) his feeling that the war on drugs really is a trivial issue, something that only silly potheads worry about? I am reminded of a question that Andrew Sullivan (who knows whereof he speaks) asks in his book The Cannabis Closet: “How does a society treat something as a harmless, ubiquitous joke and then arrest hundreds of thousands of people a year for doing it?”

Finally, a post about Obama’s disappointing drug policy record would not be complete without the Reason.tv classic “Obama, You’re No Stranger to the Bong”:

[Thanks to Richard Cowan and Allen St. Pierre for the links.]

– Article from Reason.



  1. TheOracle on

    None of the culture clash taboo topics or generation conflict topics came up. No cannabis, euthanasia, abortion, prayer in school, gay marriage, etc.

  2. Anonymous on

    They asked him the wrong question. The subject is not helping the economy, it’s Cannabis prohibition being evil on the grounds that it has much more benefits than it does negative effects, the worst of which being general lethargy. They always pull out the schizophrenia boogeyman, but fact is it only applies to teenagers and only hastens the onset by a couple years, it doesn’t actually cause it. I’ve read that living in big cities also increases schizophrenia. So are we going to close down all the cities now too? It’s obviously not a big problem because we don’t hear any stories about people going schizophrenic from Cannabis. I have never ever heard such a thing. If something isn’t even enough of a problem that anybody even knows about it unless they specifically search for such information, and even then it is very hard to find, then how is it worthy of total prohibition enforced by incarceration? I could see if it was like 1 in 10 people who smoke Cannabis wigging out permanently, but this is a small percentage of 1 percent of the population being affected. So what? More people than that are negatively effected by aspirin and ibuprofen, seriously effected, like possible death or at least organ damage. I can buy those over the counter.

    They say that Cannabis has a high “abuse potential” so it has to be outlawed. Well, no, it has a high USE potential. Who says that consuming an herb because it makes you feel good is “abuse”? That’s the intended use of the plant, to produce positive effects, feeling good being one of them. When did feeling good become a bad thing? You might say that smoking it is abuse, because that’s really not a natural thing to do, but what about if you eat it? Why is THAT prohibited? What we do is USE Cannabis, just like people USE coffee because it gives them what they consider to be a positive effect without interfering with the normal functioning of their lives, like heroin or cocaine would. People use Cannabis and live perfectly happy and productive lives. What if we put a warning on the bag saying not to use if there’s a history of schizophrenia in your family and you’re a teenager. That should cover it.

    So the question should be more like “do you believe that Cannabis deserves, scientifically speaking, if you can suspend your personal beliefs for a moment, to be completely prohibited under punishment of mandatory murder-like federal prison sentences and why? As a follow up question, Mr. President, can you explain to the working poor of this country why you are making them pay for those ridiculous prison sentences with their taxes, because I suspect that few of them have ever been attacked by a stoner and probably would rather not pay to protect society from them.?

  3. Dirty Harry on

    Of course he will joke and laugh it off. It has been working for him so far, and nothing bad comes of it towards him, so why should he change now?
    I think he will flip as the election get closer, but “IF” (I hope not!) he wins, we will just switch back to how he has been handling it up to this point.
    He can’t take a firm stand on anything of his own to save his life.
    Well, maybe Obama-care, but he is taking a good beating on that one and he doesn’t know what to do other than playing stubborn.
    He doesn’t like to be challenged and will avoid all conflicts that he can because he doesn’t know how to negotiate.

  4. Anonymous on

    President Obama was a fraud from the git go. He was always surrounded by Cheney/Clinton crowd like ZBig Breshinski, who was his foreign policy advisor during he campaign.

    He is Dick Cheney with a black face.

    The US is effectively, a one party state.

    It’s like Hillary Clinton said. The government will never legalize drugs, because so much money is being made as a direct consequence of the prohibition laws.

    Aloha Dick! Remember my comment about the banks laundering trillions is illegal drug money. That’s one of the things the former first lady is referring to.

    That’s what the reform movement in the US is up against.