On March 26, 2009, I felt a sense of generational pride in my government. President Obama was testing out an excitingly new means of representation by addressing public qualms and quandaries of the people via an online white house forum. That’s right, the internet. Now I’m not old enough to remember a time when the internet didn’t exist, a fact that has greatly influenced my generation. For better or worse, this is a fact that I am proud of, as it marks the end of accepted authority. In the digital age if there’s a question needing answered, you have nothing but your intelligence, hand-eye coordination, and a library card to stop you from finding entire communities faster than you can think them up.
So when I read that the man I voted for president would be utilizing the very implement that incalculably aids me and my many like-minded peers on a daily basis, there was a sensation of vindication.
Finally, a president who doesn’t need to have explained what "a google" is, maybe this will herald a renewed age of direct democracy. Upon visiting the forum, I was genuinely shocked to notice that 4 out of the 10 major issues (e.g The Budget, Financial Stability, Jobs) were dominated by pro marijuana legalization questions. Not only were the most popular questions by far pertaining to the ‘cannabis question’, but also the subsequent second, third and sometimes fourth most voted on questions in each category were also marijuana related. Surely this is not what the Obama administration had in mind when they polled the American people. But over 3 million votes were cast in either favor or opposition to these questions, with the general opinion seemed inextricably tied to this central point.
The President however limited his statements on legalization to:
"… whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation. I don’t know what this says about the online audience…The answer is no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy."
As a proud American, and responsible cannabis user, I take personal offense to this remark. It seems that our leader is proposing that the online community is populated by potheads, rather than concerned Americans. Do you mean to say we are too lazy or stoned to stand up and be counted at the tradition town hall meetings, or is it that we are too scared? It is, under current federal law, still against the law.
I’m not a criminal, and I’d like to keep it that way. I’m also a proud cannabis user, who like many of you would not admit to that on a government survey. So where can we meet, organize and lobby our interests without fear of retributions? Since 1965 20 million people have been arrested for the nonviolent offense of possession, so excuse me Mr. President if it’s a good way to save money. The point is this industry is in place, and not going anywhere. I agree you can’t think to fix the long coming financial problems facing America by simply legalizing it. Sure, an infusion of cash would replace the hemorrhage of money that is the Drug War.
Alcohol prohibition was always toted as the nation’s "great experiment", so why when presented with the freedom of personal choice, it seen as an outrageous debate not worth even discussing? I know you don’t want kids telling their parents the president said it’s ok to do drugs, but you did promise to always listen to the people, and tell us what was on your mind. I always thought President Obama was different not because he admitted to trying marijuana, but the alacrity with which he placed it in perspective. It didn’t ruin his life, damage his brain, or destroy his future. Well you know what, for some 20 million other Americans, it did, who knows how many of them wanted to become president.