Civil Liberties

Rolling Stone Lists "Legalization's Biggest Enemies," Somehow Omits President Obama


While I appreciate Kristen Gwynne linking to something I wrote in her Rolling Stone article "Legalization's Biggest Enemies," I can't help but notice a pretty big flaw in her ranking scheme. See if you can figure it out:

Biggest enemies of legalization

1.) Kevin Sabet, former Office of National Drug Control Policy advisor, board member of the anti-marijuana group Project SAM.

2.) Geriatric drug-war profiteers Mel and Betty Sembler 

3.) DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart

4.) Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske 

5.) Blogger David Frum 

If you're going to make a list of legalization's biggest enemies, and there's only five slots, you should probably go with the people who are, you know, big. That's why it was smart of Rolling Stone to include Kerlikowske and Leonhart in its writeup, and absolutely outrageous that the magazine omitted President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, all of whom have exponentially more control over the execution of America's drug war than a blogger and his friends, and all of whom are on the record as being opposed to legalization. 

Of course, all of them are also Democrats, and the only mention Rolling Stone makes of political orientation is in its writeup of Frum, who

has the potential to use revamped rhetoric to reignite right-wing opposition to marijuana policy. While acknowledging that the old arguments about being "soft on crime" no longer resonate with Americans who do not want marijuana users to face arrest, Frum is offering anti-pot conservatives new language to fight back against the spread of marijuana legalization. And that's something we should all be worried about.

(If by "revamped rhetoric" Gwynne means "the drug policy Obama has been promoting since 2010," then yes, that is exactly what Frum is doing.) 

The work of Project SAM is indeed noteworthy, but the buck stops with Obama. Rolling Stone should get more comfortable admitting as much