Weasel time

The White House's innovative Open for Questions forum has produced plenty of substantive questions on wonky issues. But roughly midway through, the president preemptively took one of the more popular and provocative questions of the bunch.

The query, which received more than three million votes, was: "With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?"

Obama actually interrupted the M.C of the event -- Jared Bernstein, chief economist to the Vice President -- in order to tackle the topic. He kept his answer brief.

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

Responded Bernstein: "Thank you for clearing that up."


Jack Cole, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), said in response:

"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."



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Living in this land of conservative Obama hate, it's nice to see

Coaster's picture

...you continually post these things where you damn Obama for not being liberal enough. 

Obviously, Obama must be striking the right balance.

Criticism from the left and from the right cancel each other out

FearlessFreep's picture

Really, that strikes me as a weak defense.


Obama is proving to be pragmatic

Coaster's picture

I don't thing those on either ideological end of the spectrum approve nor appreciate pragmatism.  He has a good sense of what can be done, and he's doing is best to accomplish that.  I'm pleased to see that sense also lends itself to what can be undone from the Bush disaster.

Bill Clinton let his idealism get in the way and his first two years, in which he had a Democratic congress, were years of few good victories.  He didn't get anything fixed on our awful health care system and his attempt to integrate openly gay people into our military proved to be a lasting disaster.  Obama is not making Clinton's mistakes. 

I hope the above is a stronger defense of the actions of THE OBAMA.  My previous post was in itself a stronger defense of what I had originally planned to post: That you were being a poopyhead. 

I couldn't figure out Clinton when he first took office

Rajah's picture

Why was gays in the military so important? Heck we've had gays in the military since the Spartans.

I'm willing to give Obama more than a break. Has there been any recent president with more on his table? A lesser man would have walked away from this shit storm. I do not envy this president. He seems willing to put a shovel to this steaming pile of shit that was handed to him. To all those who criticize him, history will judge whether you were a help or a hindrance to the situation.

My problem with pragmatism

FearlessFreep's picture

Pragmatists want to be judged by their results, not their ideological purity (or lack thereof). Fine.  But even by the results test they tend to fail:  witness Clinton's "managed competition" health-care scheme, a "pragmatic" alternative to the single payer proposal.  This results in the worst of both worlds.  

And even when they succeed, it's generally the case that they would have succeeded anyway, even without pragmatism.  For example, Britain's Labour party would clearly have returned to power in 1997 without Tony Blair's "New Labour" spin.  They won not because they'd become "electable," but because the Conservatives had become unelectable.


Obama is a smart ass

Scumby's picture

and it's going to get him into big trouble some day.  I actually kind of like that about him, but he's like Prince Phillip--shoots his mouth off for comedy's sake without thinking.  See the Nancy Reagan slam, the Special Olympics diss, his "I won" arrogance, etc. and now this flippant take on MJ legalization.

On the other hand it's nice to see a sharper mind in there after the potted plant Bush.

I don't advocate drug use,I support legalization but understand

TMundo's picture

...that our government does not have the planning skills to pull of a stable legalized system where marijuana can be purchaced under a safely regulated system.

Cigarette companies have been killing customers by adding the most unhealthy additives to their cigarettes for the longest time, what makes you think that we can pull of marijuana cleanly?

Right now the most prevalent form of marijuana is a brand known as hydro (hydroponic) that is grown hydroponically and with who knows what kind of chemicals added in the process.  It produces a highly addictive and incapacitating high that your parents didn't know about when they did it.

Right now this 'hydro' is readily available in the legalized drug market for medicinal use over in California, where getting a grower's/supplier's licence isn't that hard to do, and all sorts of loopholes occur as a result.

I just don't think our government has the capacity nor expertise to pull it off.

It is also important that addiction services are mandated along with the sale of legalized recreational substances.  This isn't done now for neither cigarettes nor alcohol, it should be done, but it isn't.  It is not okay for people to continue to abuse drugs, but if they are legalized, the government has a big opportunity to give lots of help in that area.  But if they aren't going to, than they shouldn't bother legalizing it


I think at this point, if Obama were to advocate legalization...

TMundo's picture

...well, he's probably too worried he'd loose supporters and approval rating.  ANd he's worried about that right now.  He's probably worried he'd come off like a hippy.

If Obama was worried about losing supporters and approval ratin

Rajah's picture

-g, he would have abandoned continuing the bailouts. He may honestly think legalizing marijuana a bad idea. I think it would certainly help the economy and the government could sure use the revenue. History has shown us abolition of substances doesn't work. The illegality of weed only serves to finance the criminal element just like the banning of alcohol served the rise of the mob. A government regulated weed would be much safer just like it made tobacco safer. Oh shit, I ruined my point!

The choice

FearlessFreep's picture

Legalize marijuana, and government regulation may fail to keep it safe enough.

Don't legalize it, and there's no regulation at all, so it certainly won't be safe enough.

The risk of dangerous stuff getting through to users, vs. the certainty of it.


Another thing to consider if marijuana is legal

Rajah's picture

There will be bootleg operations. People avoiding the tax and regulations. In that way marijuana is more like alcohol than tobacco although there is illegal trafficing in cigarettes too. So it won't stop all the criminal aspects. Of course you'll have to keep miners from buying it.

Yeah, well...

Wulfgar's picture

Rajah wrote:

Of course you'll have to keep miners from buying it.



...they need something to ease the pain ffrom the Black Lung...


~No, my young padawan; this one is mine.~


Sorry typo

Rajah's picture

hee hee hee

Hughley investigates legalizing weed in Californication

Rajah's picture

I had heard about those medical mari shops

TMundo's picture

hash, hash oils, and hydro.  I sincerelly hope that from a medical standpoint, all that stuff is necesary.  I recognize a few of the names of the strains and I wonder what doctor thought 'sour dieseal' and 'purple haze' would be better for what ailment.  Although maybe it's just better for the patient to decide.  Truthfully, a patient in pain, knows what medicine works best, and there, he or she seems to have that choice.  So that's cool.  But as far as abuse goes, hydro is very addicting for some people, not all.  But I've experienced it for myself, and have talked to quite a few people that find hydro to be quite an unstable drug.  Now that marijuana has been cultivated, it has become more of a drug than it ever was before.  Natural only goes so far before it becomes synthetic.  And synthetic has it's pros and cons, especially from a medical standpoint.

I wouldn't want a cancer or aids patient to not be able get their hydro because that particular strain helps them the most.  But I wouldn't want to see someone who doesn't need it get hooked on it because they had less of a problem and went into the shop and came out with a strain that was stronger than what they needed.

They don't call it weed for nothing

Dan_in_Cincinnati's picture

If Marijuana is decriminalized, you can bet people will be growing it in their home gardens right next to the tomato plants.  Its just too easy to grow.  You don't even have to buy special equipment like you do when you brew your own beer or make your own wine.

As a Libertarian I think the government should legalize victimless crimes like prostitution & drugs and then regulate them to get organized crime out of those things.  Realistically it would be difficult for the government to monopolize marijuana though.

Now you have street bums buying cigarettes and beer for kids.  You would have the same kind of thing going on with Marijuana if it was decriminalized for adults. 

If someone can come up with a better idea to put the ultra-violent Mexican drug gangs out of business let's hear it.

{;-) Dan in Miami

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