Marijuana

Obama Concedes Pot Prohibition Is Unscientific and Unjust

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According to a recent CNN poll, 87 percent of Americans think marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol. According to an interview with The New Yorker published yesterday, President Obama is one of them: 

As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol.

In fact, Obama said, pot is less dangerous than alcohol "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer"—a view held by 73 percent of the respondents in that CNN poll. So Obama is not really going out on a limb by acknowledging that alcohol, measured by acute toxicity, accident risk, and the long-term effects of heavy consumption, is more hazardous than marijuana. On the face of it, he would be taking a bigger risk by endorsing the theory of evolution.

Yet news outlets around the world are treating Obama's comment as a big deal, because it contradicts official U.S. policy. Marijuana is on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a category supposedly reserved for drugs with a high abuse potential that have no recognized medical value and cannot be used safely, even under a doctor's supervision. The Obama administration has stubbornly defended that classification, pretending it is scientifically sound.

Obama also seemed to contradict his own avowed opposition to decriminalizing marijuana, portraying legalization in Colorado and Washington as a solution to the racially disproportionate impact of pot prohibition:

"Middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do," he said. "And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties." But, he said, "we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing." Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that "it's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished."

To say that "it's important for [legalization] to go forward" is a bigger step than the signals of prosecutorial forbearance the administration has offered so far. Obama seems to be saying he wants these experiments to succeed.

In short, Obama is conceding that marijuana prohibition is unscientific and unjust. That is indeed a pretty big deal, assuming he does not find a way to wriggle out of it.

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  1. The Obama administration has stubbornly defended that classification…

    Well, it’s not like he’s in charge of the administration. It sounds like he got free from his handlers for a couple hours.

    1. Sounds more like his handlers told him to mouth these words to try and prop up the poll numbers for Democrats in Congress getting nervous about the mood of the populace.

      1. Sounds more like his handlers told him to mouth these words to try and prop up the poll numbers for Democrats in Congress getting nervous about the mood of the populace their chances for relection.
        FTFY.

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  2. You’re making the mistake of making a big deal about what he says. Watch what he does.

    1. Yep, and usually his action are the opposite of his public statement, so look out for an intensification of the war on pot.

    2. ” I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life”

      Is he trying to imply that he no longer smokes cigarettes? Or is he defining “a big chunk” as “100%”.

  3. assuming he does not find a way to wriggle out of it

    Let the backtracking begin!

    LET ME BE CLEAR…I have great respect for the DEA and the Justice Department and the efforts they make to protect our children.

    1. He doesn’t have to wriggle out of it. Who among his fan boys and girls will expect him to acknowledge the implications of his words and act on them? Even those who think he should act aren’t likely to raise a stink about it.

  4. Obama is so cool. He has the power to change the law, but won’t because he is just too cool. He says all these cool things, but is way to frickin cool to do anything about it.

    1. Most see Obama’s remarks and think “Obama is fighting for legalization! If only the Republicans would let him change the law!”

      1. Aaaaand, “if only the Republicans would let him exercise his power to pardon people he’s locked up over weed!”

    2. You know, I wish someone would directly ask the President, a Constitutional Law Professor, whether or not he is widely overstretching his lawful powers in his use of executive orders.

  5. Sabotage May Have Started Three Mile Island Accident – Part 1

    It’s important to understand that the feed water valves did not shut by magic. The reason the feed water valves slammed shut was that the instrument air system holding them open had been contaminated with water. The water entered the instrument air system because that system had been improperly connected with a temporary hose to a higher pressure water system.

    Temporary hoses do not connect themselves between fittings; someone installed the hose without making sure that higher pressure water would not flow into the lower pressure air.

    In another improbable coincidence, those two, normally open, isolation valves for the emergency feed water system were already shut at the time that the feed water system flow stopped. For the first eight minutes of the TMI accident, control room operators assumed that emergency feed was flowing because the pumps were running, but the closed EFW-12A and EFW-12B prevented any water from getting to the steam generators. The position indication for at least one of the improperly shut valves was obscured in the control room by a maintenance tag on an unrelated switch that coincidentally covered the indicator light.

    Interesting read. The Author is not a conspiracy theorist, normally, so I trust his expertise. This is part 1 of 3 parts written.

    1. Fuck this was supposed to be in AM links

    2. Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

  6. No, no, no. When Obama says that pot is less dangerous than alcohol, he isn’t going to legalize pot, he’s going to ban booze. Fish gotta swim, regulators have to regulate.

    1. That was my first thought, too.

    2. Four Loko!

  7. so he’s going to do something or just talk for its own sake. Rhetorical question, obviously.

  8. Shorter Drug Warrior in Chief; ” I’m evil.”

  9. In short, Obama is conceding that marijuana prohibition is unscientific and unjust. That is indeed a pretty big deal, assuming he does not find a way to wriggle out of it.

    What exactly is a big deal about somebody babbling the words you want to hear and doing nothing about it? There’s nothing to wriggle out of, as there has been nothing proposed.

    1. Not to mention that the libertarian argument against prohibition has nothing to do with whether the POTUS thinks a substance is less dangerous than another. Ask him what he thinks about heroin.

      1. He thinks it’s okay to snort it once in a while. Like on holidays.

        1. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…

        2. I have to listen to that Penn Jillette rant now. Fucking Obama. Did pot and “maybe a little blow,” but continues to lock people up for it.

  10. In short, Obama is conceding saying for public consumption, most likely because that will mollify some progs suffering from severe cognitive dissonance, that marijuana prohibition is unscientific and unjust while continuing to lock up and not pardon weed users or distributors, probably because of other political calculations.

    FTFY.

  11. If you want to see something real sad, go to any ‘conservative’ newspaper, and read the comment section about this story. Apparently, this is further proof that Obama is a Communist Muslim.

  12. No one is more for or against marijuana legalization than Barack Obama.

  13. I think there’s a reasonable chance that his statements were something of a trial balloon.

    When Mumbly Joe Biden “accidentally” voiced support for gay marriage in early 2012, there wasn’t anything accidental about it. The Obama Administration was putting it up as a trial balloon to gauge the public’s reaction on the issue…

    If the public’s reaction had been overwhelmingly negative, they’d have backpedaled and said that Biden had strayed off the reservation.

    Maybe, just maybe, the Obama Administration is doing the same sort of thing, here. If they ever were to support recreational legalization on a state by state basis, wouldn’t they put up a trial balloon first?

  14. Obama is conceding that marijuana prohibition is unscientific and unjust. That is indeed a pretty big deal, assuming he does not find a way to wriggle out of it.

    He will. At this point I think one can pretty accurately predict his actions by taking the opposite of whatever he says.

  15. As a physician and medical researcher, I can tell you categorically that pot is not a safe recreational drug. While perhaps less harmful in adults, heavy use clearly affects development in the adolescent brain interfering with myelinization and the maturation of neural pathways, especially in the prefrontal cortical regions.

    But regardless of how “dangerous” a drug it may be, people have the right to endanger themselves without the interference of government. The justification for letting free people entertain themselves with chemicals does not lie in how innocuous that entertainment may or may not be.

    1. Yeah, sometimes we become so enthralled with getting rid of something we don’t like, such as the Drug War, that we start thinking everything the other side says is completely ridiculous. There’s probably a baby in some of their bathwater somewhere…

      When I was in high school, it was a lot easier for kids to get marijuana than it was for them to get alcohol. I don’t know if that’s still true, but if it is, the fact that sellers don’t card like liquor stores is probably part of the reason.

      Keeping marijuana out of the hands of children would be a great reason to legalize it.

    2. While perhaps less harmful in adults, heavy use clearly affects development in the adolescent brain interfering with myelinization and the maturation of neural pathways, especially in the prefrontal cortical regions.

      Like alcohol, aspirin, and a million other things that aren’t on Schedule I and are perfectly safe when used by most people in moderation.

      The justification for letting free people entertain themselves with chemicals does not lie in how innocuous that entertainment may or may not be.

      Perhaps not, but showing it to be an innocuous substance for moderate adult consumption cuts the legs out from our opponents’ emotional appeals. I don’t get your objection to this.

    3. As a physician and medical researcher, I can tell you categorically that pot is not a safe recreational drug.

      As a formerly young person myself, I assure you that it was far far easier to get a bag of weed than a bottle of beer.

      Blow as hard as you like, prefacing your opinion with your credentials doesn’t allow you to fallaciously interpret the evidence. Yes it’s harmful in adolescents, but no more so than other factors and certainly less harmful than the cocktail of speed pills and antidepressants that children are forced to take regularly.

      Marijuana should remain entirely unregulated by political monopolies. That’s a moral proposition, not a practical one so I’m not sure a minarchist will grasp.

      1. “Marijuana should remain entirely unregulated by political monopolies”

        I agree with you. My point was only that the arguments about the safety of cannabis are irrelevant. Free people should remain free to do as they damn well please without the interference of the state regardless of how stupid or dangerous those things might be. Even though I consider pot to be a more dangerous substance than you — I think the research at this point is pretty clear by the way — I was not using that fact to argue for prohibition.

  16. What a hypocrite! While he smoked marijuana as a young man, he openly supports the failed drug war still. As have many other politicians previously some of whom smoked it as well. Government fails.

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  18. finally a president that talks reality in simple language. I agree with him.

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