Why Obama Won't Be the One to End the War on Drugs

In New York magazine, Benjamin Wallace-Wells has a long article about the failure of the War on Drugs, in which he says, "Without really acknowledging it, we are beginning to experiment with a negotiated surrender." This is in reference to the recently passed marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington, which will likely be followed by other states in upcoming elections. Hanging over these policy changes is the still-to-be-determined reaction of the Obama administration, which hasn't yet said whether it plans to send DEA agents to crack down on the businesses these laws allow for, or the growing operations they'll produce. And I'm beginning to suspect that the administration will try to set some kind of policy course intended to be as low-key and neutral as possible, neither giving the two states the green light to proceed as their new laws envision, nor embarking on some kind of dramatic and visible crackdown.

Why? Because that's what Barack Obama appears to want. One of Andrew Sullivan's readers noted a video from 2007 in which candidate Obama evaded and hedged in his response to a question about legalization; the reader said, "the sense I got was that whatever Obama's actual position on marijuana is, he's not about to let that be the issue that he wastes political capital on. That's not going to be the issue that prevents him from becoming president and fixing everything else that he cares more about." That sounds about right to me: While Obama may believe that the War has been a failure and it's absurd to lock up hundreds of thousands of people for possessing, buying, or selling small amounts of marijuana, it just isn't all that high on his priority list. If making a major policy change is risky, he's not going to bother. On the other hand, he doesn't want to alienate the 50 percent of the country that now supports legalization, many of whom are his staunch supporters, so his preferred outcome would be that no one pays much attention to the issue for the next four years.

Obama has been a continuing disappointment to his supporters who favor legalization, but there's a kind of inverse Nixon-to-China thing going on with him. As the first president who admits to being an enthusiastic pot smoker in his youth (and of course the first black president), he'll be the last person to begin the dismantling of the War on Drugs. But maybe, bit by bit, it'll happen without him.

Comments

Yes obama was a pot smoker in tib teen age and he has admitted this fact after he became the 1st black president of America
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How can any responsible parent not desire a saner drug policy, and one that’s based on facts rather than reefer madness? Prohibition guarantees that many illegal drugs are far easier for our children to procure than even alcohol or nicotine. That's because, even though these are both very dangerous and addictive drugs, they are at least sold in properly controlled and regulated environments.

Under our present regime, certain plants/concoctions/drugs are sold only by criminals and terrorists; the huge black-market profits are used to threaten innocent civilians, bribe law enforcement officials, and buy support from unconscionable politicians; the availability and usage rates tend to go up, not down, and our prisons have become filled to capacity with easily replaced vendors and smugglers —this list of dangerous and negative consequences is actually endless. To continue prohibition is ludicrous, and those of us who can't see that by now, must be either severely mentally challenged or using something far stronger than any of us have even heard of.

Why on earth should we be willing to whack ourselves with ever-bigger and more-repressive prohibition hammers, while drug use and availability keep going up, not down, and while we all plunge deeper into Loserville?

Prohibition is the most destructive, dysfunctional, dishonest and racist social policy since Slavery. Prohibition is a holocaust in slow motion. We MUST end it NOW!

This is really not good to legalize this kind of drugs for we all know that this kind of drug will do not good to the families and kids. Of course you can as well compare this one to gun violence and now to State have passed a bill for this idea. This kind of issue must not be the aim of society. I believe that this drug is helpful if use properly however when this will become a usual consumption in a common area where it is legal, there is nothing I could think of is the side effect of this one if this is abuse by the consumer or the user. I believe that this kind drugs can lead user to addiction and probably not a good idea for the future life.

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