Bummed out pot activists have higher hopes for Obama
Drug war reform advocates are organizing online to ask President-elect Barack Obama to legalize marijuana, reversing a policy that has put thousands of non-violent offenders in jail while doing little to curb prevalence of the drug.
Obama reiterated that he does not favor full legalization in response to a question on his transition Web site.
Q: "Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?" S. Man, DentonA Facebook petition from Students for Sensible Drug Policy has been signed by nearly 37,000 users, and the legalization question shot to the top of Obama's Change.gov user forum.
A: President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.
"The question of how we can better deal with drug problems was not adequately addressed during the Presidential election and is not being discussed by the mainstream media, so the Internet is providing an outlet for these concerns to be aired," said Micah Daigle, associate director of SSDP. "The Change.gov forum promotes transparency, and the next step is for President-elect Obama to create dialogue."
Many questions remain regarding how Obama will approach the drug war, but his picks for drug czar and attorney general have worried some advocates of ending the drug war.
Jim Ramstad, who Obama reportedly plans to tap to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, has some drug warrior tendencies such as his opposition to research of medical marijuana and needle exchange programs to prevent AIDS from spreading among drug addicts. Attorney General nominee Eric Holder has supported mandatory minimum drug sentences and tougher penalties for pot possession.
But those hoping for reform nonetheless see improved chances with Obama than has existed over the last eight years.
"Obama has spoken out about ending DEA meddling in states where some marijuana use is legal," Marijuana Policy Project President Rob Kampia recently told the libertarian Reason magazine, before the nominations were announced.
Unlike Bush and former President Bill Clinton, he said, Obama is "not a liar. He hasn't lied about his personal use, or his stance on DEA raids. He's shown intellectual honesty about issues, while other politicians squirmed away, to their detriment."