Will Marijuana Give Obama the Giggles Again?


Tomorrow 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 own youthful 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.]

NEXT: Sandra Day O'Connor vs. Samuel Alito: Free Speech Edition

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  1. And I don’t know what this says about the online audience, but…this was a popular question.

    “Hahaha, those kookie online stoners.” *wink* “Seriously though, fuck you.”

    1. But the question is pretty stupid. “How about we solve the bujillion dollar deficit by making pot legal.”

      I doubt it would make any real difference to the economy. Because as soon as it is legal and people go to CVS to buy cans of pot, the g’ment will create a cabinet level post, MDEA, Marijuana Distribution Enforcement Agency and will impose a 20% tax on pot to pay for the new 500 member department. And the FDA would add 1000 agents to certify all pot. Now that I think about it, don’t legalize it, it would add to the deficit.

      1. It’s not as stupid as saying “ending the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy will fix the deficit”, Greer.

      2. Yeah, but he could have given a more serious fundamental question of decriminalization or legalization of marijuana.

      3. Yeah, but he could have given a more serious fundamental question of decriminalization or legalization of marijuana.

      4. I doubt it would make any real difference to the economy

        Completely disagree. You can’t take a product or service that is effectively banned yet consumed by millions of people every day, make it legal – thereby opening it up to the creative juices of entrepreneurial America – and not expect it to have a dramatic effect on the economy.

    2. Remember, he’s the most Internet-savvy presidential candidate ever.

  2. http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn…..p#comments

    PZ Myers wants you to petition the UK government to block Rupert Murdoch’s acquisition of some media company…or whatever.

    But the post is still relatively new, so you can watch the comments start to trickle in.


    1. Okay, who the fuck is Milly Dowler?

    2. Why do you do this to yourself?

      1. It’s the blog-equivalent to sado-masochistic autoerotic asphyxiation. I punish myself with Pharyngula only to allow myself an orgasmic release with Hit & Run.

        1. It’s an embarrassing death. You always have to color it differently in the media.

          1. “He went out John Carradine style”

            1. You mean DAVID Carradine. John Carradine died of old man stuff.

  3. Do you realize how much leverage of its citizens the state would give up if it budged on legalization? We shan’t be doing that.

  4. I can’t think of one function of the job that Obama is doing well.

    1. He promotes good health by playing golf 🙂

      1. He smokes on the links. Fail

  5. 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,

    When he laughs during questions on drug policy, at least it means he understands us. Progress!

    1. You forgot to add that you’re going to vote for him anyway because the Republicans are worse.

    2. I don’t know if this is meant seriously or sarcastically.

      But i think it says a lot about Obama-fans that i don’t even know, which is really sad.

    3. ….when the DEA busts a pot smoker.

    4. Or maybe he’s still toking?

  6. “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.”

    Shit! How did I miss this quote? This confirms every shitty thought I’ve had about Democrats and drug policy over the last decade.

    1. So he’s in favor of protecting the poor, stupid people from the problem of drugs…just like any prohibitionist TEAM RED politician. It’s almost as if politicians are really all the same shade of scum and there’s no functional difference between the two TEAMS. Imagine that.

      1. are you some new kind of truther?

        1. TEAM TRUTHER

          1. TRUTHER, FUCK YEAH!
            TRUTHER, FUCK YEAH!


              1. Only a Truther is allowed to touch me there.

      2. Some of us are Democrats, Episarch.

  7. I hope all 500,000 Obama donors and the 69 million who voted for him last time are paying attention to the way he treats the serious policy concerns of his supporters.

    Drug reform? Not a chance. Spending restraint? LOL. Ending the wars? How about starting a new one instead.

    1. I hope all 500,000 Obama donors and the 69 million who voted for him last time are paying attention…


      1. Then fuck those guys.

      2. Where do I send my Obama 2012 donation?

  8. Pot related news French Fries = MaryJane.


    1. They’re one and the same.

    2. You know what they put on french fries in Amsterdam instead of ketchup…MAYONAISE! I’ve seen ’em do it; they fucking drown ’em in that shit.

      1. ketchup goes on eggs, you American

        1. No it doesn’t. Though if I have sausage or bacon sandwich with fried egg on it, I have to have mayo. Cuts the grease or something.

      2. Huh. Wierd. Can’t really talk though, I like dipping my Wendy’s fries in my chocolate frosty. If you don’t have any Wendy’s, their frosty is basically soft serve ice cream. You have the cold chocolate on the hot fries plus then when you eat the ice cream you get a liitle of the salt from the fries. I’ve talked to other who do it also so not so strange.

        1. That sounds disgusting.

        2. frsoties ajre gjoood for friedsss im eating some right noew. Shitt dribbledd on the keyboards all stick neow but so worthe it.

          1. Ifeelyour [pain.:(

        3. I do that too, and its delicious.

      3. Does he look like a BITCH?

        1. Royale with Cheese

  9. I wonder what the president must be thinking when he gets handed the question again? “Blast! There’s that damn dope question again. OK, what was the plan? Oh, yeah, serious, serious. Frowny face, look stern, but compassionate. Here we go…”

  10. Hey, Pres. what about Portugal’s experiment?


    1. We only imitate Europe when it comes to the welfare state… and it gives me more control.

    2. Well Portugal just got junk bond status so it didn’t help their tax revenues…

      1. Who cares what it did to tax revenues I just want less felons that are unemployable.

  11. You know what they put on french fries in Amsterdam instead of ketchup

  12. An unsuccessful war is just one you lose. A war where you destroy your own people, your own country and your own political and judicial system and your own police force would I hope be considered a bit more than unsuccessful. Suicidal, stupid, pathological are all modifiers that might be added to the word “war” to strive to describe the totality of failure this monstrous disaster has been. Merely using the number of dollars squandered and lives ruined paints only a shadow of the scope of this epic failure.

    The drug war has destroyed civil discourse, rule of law, respect for civil liberties and the individual upon whom the very state relies on for both financial support and moral authority to rule. A century squandered will be how the future will remember the fools of this era. We who lived through the 20th century and into the 21st watched how a common plant was used to turn brother on brother and destroy families and communities. Cannabis is a very handy plant as its proper name Cannabis Sativa literaly translates to useful cannabis. Most thought it was only useful for food, fuel, fiber and medicine, but a small group of deranged individuals managed to use it to conduct a pogrom, to ethnically cleanse our republic of any they found deviant or repugnant.

    Did the founding fathers ever think the 4th amendment would be superseded by the phrase “I think I smell marijuana” which allows the police to search anyone and anything, anywhere and anytime, usually with guns drawn and often after breaking down a door or performing a swat raid.

    Congress is useless and will not act until it can’t do anything else, just like the President. The President could sign an executive order, he could nullify our treaties, he could stop our international drug war, he could remove troops from South America. But he won’t. He’s a coward like the line of coward presidents and legislators and courts before him. You must ask yourself why this has gone on for so long and why it won’t stop. Who gains from this war that harms so many?

    Think about it, think about why they protect their war on drugs against any criticism or attempt at truce.

    Legalization would require logical thinking by a body politic bent on suicide. The corporate media and the government propaganda have people so confused and programmed they no longer even act in their own self interest.

    Who derives the benefit from having a vibrant expensive black market in marijuana and other drugs? Who is making sure that Afghanistan has the best Opium crop in decades? Umm that would be certain elements of our fine government.

    Its a snake that eats its tail, a war against its own citizens to ensure a black market to maintain maximum profits to conduct a war against its own citizens,to ensure a black market to maintain maximum profits to conduct a war, ad infinitum.

    Many fingers extract honey from the pool at every point in the scheme ensuring all are equally vested in the continued success of this failure.

    You see the secret is Marijuana prohibition isn’t about marijuana, its about everything prohibiting a harmless substance in common use brings. Think what you could do with a law that outlawed sugar or butter. suddenly you have a huge black market, and a major set of tools for controlling all of the population whether you use butter or not. You can play one side against the other, you can assign attributes to people who use butter and profile them based on this. Set up laws that allow cops to keep houses and sell them for profit, if they find someone making illegal butter at home. The possibilities are endless.

    Marijuana is the lynch pin, it is the keystone and the foundation for the entire war on drugs, without marijuana prohibition, the war on drugs falls apart faster than a yugo on a pot hole filled road. In its simplest terms, if the war on drugs were a multi-level marketing scheme, which in some respect it is, without a strong solid base tier of marijuana to build upon, the entire frame work fails and crumbles to the ground.

    The powers that be would legalize crack before they would legalize marijuana.

    1. Now that they have the WOT they no longer need they WOD to justify the police state and nullification of civil liberties.

    2. Also…if they legalize pot they will elminate walls of text

      1. …or unleash wallotexts the like of which has never before been seen. Save the chiwdrens from rambling stoners at any cost!

  13. Could Obama at least say that his position on cannabis legalization is “evolving,” like his position on same-sex marriage? I mean, it would still be a big fuck-you, but at least he’d be winking at us, saying “I’m with you guys, but I can’t come out in favor of it or I’ll get clobbered when I’m up for reelection.”

    1. You mean that point at the start of a second term he is as much a lame duck as George Bush in 2005 talking about Social Security reform?

      Besides, he ain’t with us on this, or much of anything.

      Even still, he has his wretched fans.


      But Barack Obama is really what has made the left-liberal illusion fold under the weight of its own absurdity. Here we had the perfect paragon of left-liberal social democracy. He beat the centrist Hillary Clinton then won the national election. He had a Democratic Congress for two years. He had loads of political capital by virtue of following a completely failed and unpopular Republican administration. The world welcomed him. The center cheered him. And what did he do?

      He shoveled money toward corporate America, banks and car manufacturers. He championed the bailouts of the same Wall Street firms his very partisans blamed for the financial collapse. He picked the CEO of General Electric to oversee the unemployment problem. He appointed corporate state regulars for every major role in financial central planning. After guaranteeing a new era of transparency, he conducted all his regulatory business behind a shroud of unprecedented secrecy. He planned his health care scheme, the crown jewel of his domestic agenda, in league with the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

      He continued the war in Iraq, even extending Bush’s schedule with a goal of staying longer than the last administration planned. He tripled the U.S. presence in Afghanistan then took over two years to announce the eventual drawdown to bring it back to only double the Bush presence. He widened the war in Pakistan, launching drone attacks at a dizzying pace. He started a war on false pretenses with Libya, shifting the goal posts and doing it all without Congressional approval. He bombed Yemen and lied about it.

      He enthusiastically signed on to warrantless wiretapping, renditioning, the Patriot Act, prison abuse, detention without trial, violations of habeas corpus, and disgustingly invasive airport security measures. He deported immigrants more than Bush did. He increased funding for the drug war in Mexico. He invoked the Espionage Act more than all previous presidents combined, tortured a whistleblower, and claimed the right to unilaterally kill any U.S. citizen on Earth without even a nod from Congress or a shrug from the courts.

      The left-liberals who stand by this war criminal and Wall Street shill have made their choice: better to have the militarism and police state, so long as it means a little more influence over domestic politics, even if that too is compromised by corporate interference, than it is to embrace a radical antiwar agenda that might complicate their domestic aspirations.

      1. That point he can come out in favor of drug legalization. I could have sworn you made that point explicit instead of implicitly alluding to it when I first read your post.

  14. Fuck Obama and that Horse he rode in on !

  15. Here is the question I would want to put to him:

    Mr. President. You have said that you are opposed to marijuana legalization, have even treated it as something of a joke. That surely means that you believe that people who use marijuana deserve to be punished for doing so.

    You have admitted having yourself used marijuana. Do you have any plans, after leaving office, to arrange to spend six months or so in a jail cell, thus voluntarily imposing on yourself the punishment that you think it right to impose on other people for doing what you did?

    Or are you a hypocrite who believes that your principles only apply to other people’s acts, not to your own?

    1. I’d actually mention blow first, since it now carries the same penalty as crack

      1. And coke is far more likely to land you in jail for possession.

  16. You see the secret is Marijuana prohibition isn’t about marijuana, its about everything prohibiting a harmless substance in common use brings. I love this crystal jewelry online shop…Think what you could do with a law that outlawed sugar or butter. suddenly you have a huge black market, and a major set of tools for controlling all of the population whether you use butter or not.

    1. That’s low, even for a spammer…

      1. But it’s high for a H&R commentator. Shows some imagination.

      2. I dunno. This is better than anything AnonBot has posted.

  17. Such a good writing, or by I saw for the first time. I’m quite happy, you are a good writer

  18. Such a good writing, or by I saw for the first time. I’m quite happy, you are a good writer

  19. On June 17, 1971, President Nixon told Congress that “if we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us.” After forty years of trying to destroy “the drug menace in America” we still *haven’t* been able to destroy it and it still *hasn’t* destroyed us. Four decades is long enough to realize that on this important issue, President Nixon was wrong! All actions taken as a result of his invalid and paranoid assumptions (e.g. the federal marijuana prohibition) should be ended immediately!

    It makes no sense for taxpayers to fund the federal marijuana prohibition when it *doesn’t* prevent people from using marijuana and it *does* make criminals incredibly wealthy and incite the Mexican drug cartels to murder thousands of people every year.

    We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales – to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana must be made legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

    “There’s something extraordinarily perverse when we’re so concerned about preventing addicts from having access to drugs that we destroy the lives of many times more people, either through untreated pain or other drug war damage”.

  20. I’m a very staunch supporter of leaglization of marijuana for adult use nation wide.I’m 59 years old and have used marijuana on and off since I was 14 without and problems to my body or mind.Obooboo doesn’t want any harhfull drugs,well niether do I and that leaves marijuana out of the equasion.Marijuana it for all practical purposes totaly harmless to the body and mind.It is not physically addictive but rather only mentally so.The tax revenuse which were intialy estimated on the conservative side meaning it would bring in a whloe lot more than originaly estimated would eradicate the national deficit within 2-21/2 years easily.It would balance the books of every single stae in the country within 1 tear easily putting all of them in the black once again.It would create thousands of jobs.The mga billions currrently being wasted at the federal level to attempt to stop marijuana from getting to the people could be used for a host of many other important things as would the mega millions currently being wasted by the states.No more dwindling s.s. funds,no more cuts in medicare/aide and the list go’s on and on.Many other country’s have made it legalf or adult use with others preparing to do the same.These country’s have all seen very significant drops in drug realted crimes as well as very siginificant drops in the numbers of teens using it as well not to mention the treamendous amounts of money made with tax revenuse.These country’s and their people are no diferent from our country and it’s people so it only stands to reason that we would also enjoy all of these positive reults.It would put a huge dent in the cocaine,heroin and prescription pain pill problem as most people would gravitate to using marijuana over that of the bad drugs if it were to be legalized.It would also put a major hurt on the mexican cartels as well.While nothing will ever completely stop the use of the bad drugs it would certiainly put a huge dent in them being used which is a win-win scenario for everyone.All in all legalizig marijuana for adult use nation wide would be one of the most intelligent and logical things our government could do at this point in time

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