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Obama's Pot Politics

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Message John Pagoda

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” — Albert Einstein

In a town hall meeting on March 26 President Obama accepted the following online question: “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?”

To that question President Obama responded “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.”

Since I really expected much more from this President after eight long years of deceit, deception and outright lying from the previous President I was quite surprised and disappointed by President Obama’s dismissive demeanor and politics as usual response.

In fact the question said nothing about the online audience but did expose President Obama’s empty rhetoric about bringing change to Washington because his response was nothing more than the slight of hand employed by most politicians i.e. he changed the question to suit a safe response and moved on as if he actually answered the question that is more pressing than popular given the emergence of a narco-state south of the border.

On the same day of President Obama’s town hall meeting his Secretary of State was south of the border saying that Americans have an insatiable desire for illegal drugs as if to explain that we are part of the problem that has caused the carnage produced by the cartels to protect, defend and expand their market share of illegal drugs they supply to satiate our desire implying that if we didn’t have an insatiable desire for illegal drugs there would be no need for cartels to export that which is no longer demanded thus the end of violence produced by the problem of illegal drugs.

During President Obama’s recent visit to Mexico he said that the U.S. would have to work on curbing demand for illegal drugs. We’ve already tried just saying no and we’ve already tried incarcerated so what’s left to curb demand? After being sworn in President Obama said he wanted the role of science to play a large part in his administration’s policies yet what science supports the claim that we have an “insatiable desire for illegal drugs” as alleged by Secretary of State Clinton? In fact since the science of neurobiology with the aid of modern technology has actually found cannabinoid receptor sites in the human brain it seems that curbing demand is a fool’s errand.

If anything the historical record supports the position that we Americans more likely seem to have an insatiable desire for violence after all our nation’s history is written in blood from day one. How else can one explain a drug policy that is waged by violent means? More guns are smuggled into Mexico from the U.S. and other countries, more guns are purchased by cartels that supply illegal drugs, more guns are purchased by gangs that distribute the illegal drugs, more guns are bought by the police, more guns are purchased by people who use illegal drugs and more guns are purchased by citizens in cities where the war on drugs is playing out.

As for drugs let’s face it as a people we are more predisposed and programmed by daily advertising by the pharmaceutical industry to have an insatiable desire for “drugs” period. Caffeine to wake up, No Doz to stay up, a cornucopia of pills to suppress our appetite or too loose weight after all one can never be too thin, pills to get a rise out of one’s Mr. Johnson and provide sexual satisfaction before taking Ambien to fall asleep and if that sequence of daily events seems monotonous and depressing there are drugs that can make one smile once detached from reality.

The Mexican cartels are now exporting drugs to over 230 U.S. cities which have become major distribution hubs for illegal drugs because the demand exists here in the U.S. but that same demand exists in most if not all other sovereign nations. The difference is how nations respond to that demand to that reality.

Some like Portugal actually decriminalized all drugs and since 2001 the prevalence rates of drug use among the Portuguese has actually decreased through 2008. Others like the U.S. have been waging a war against the cannabis plant since it was declared in June of 1971 by Richard Nixon.

Get the picture. Hundreds of billions of dollars spent since the war began, millions incarcerated, millions of innocent lives ruined many forever, millions of families destroyed beyond repair, constitutional liberties eroded, more police hired, more easy arrests, more opportunities to earn an extra buck through corruption, lawyers with more clients, new prisons built, more corrections officers hired to keep their fellow man in a cage, a climate of fear created, more guns on the streets, more death and destruction from gang related violence and nearly 40 years later what to we have to show for this multi-billion dollar war on drugs?

One of the things I learned as a Political Science major was that “change is incremental,” but forty years and our country and our government still can’t accept the uncomfortable truth that our policy with respect to illegal drugs has been an abysmal failure? If it is true that insanity is defined as repeating the same action and expecting a different result then I must accept that which I find unacceptable yet can no longer ignore that I live in an insane society and Obama’s recent remarks seems to confirm my suspicions.

The fact is that no one asked President Obama if legalizing marijuana was a good strategy to grow our economy. How dismissive and deceitful of the change candidate. The two part question President Obama never answered was why not legalize, control and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy and do we need that many victimless criminals?

The reality that Obama chooses to ignore is that much like the prohibition of alcohol in which gangs and violence were a natural byproduct of making an illegal substance available to satisfy a need and a demand. Once the XVIII Amendment was repealed the gangs and the violence disappeared at least until some other drugs became illegal in the late 1930s providing other gangs an opportunity to satisfy a need.

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