I have officially endorsed the cause Legalize the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana in Ideas for Change in America on Obama's Change.gov site. Ideas for Change in America is described as:
"Ideas for Change in America is a nationwide competition to identify the best ideas for change in America. The top 10 ideas will be presented to the Obama administration just before inauguration day and form the basis of a nationwide advocacy campaign to turn each idea into actual policy."
Currently, the policy Legalize the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana is in first place and hopefully will retain that spot and force Obama's Administration to address it once again. Previously Change.gov had a similar sort of 'contest' on their website where over 7,000 policy questions were submitted for people to vote on. The top vote-getter:
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.
And the unfortunate response:
A: “President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.”
I have also voted for two other policy suggestions, one being ending the war on drugs and the other repealing the Patriot Act. I have been a vocal supporter of legalizing marijuana (and ending the war on drugs as a whole) for some time now. My reasons were laid out in my very first post on this blog quite some time ago. I continue to stand firm on this position, and as I become even more informed about this issue I only become more confident that ending the war on drugs will solve many problems our nation faces today.
The biggest enemy in opposing the war on drugs are three things : lack of education about the issue, maintaining the status quo, and propaganda. You may be surprised that I did not mention special interests, but that can be tied into propaganda. I also do not think special interests are that powerful when put up against an informed population. For example, some believe that drugs are to blame for all the crime, poverty, and social ills that are related to drug-dealing and the like. But anyone who looks at it from an economic perspective will realize that the price of drugs are inflated astronomically because they are illegal. This makes it very profitable to pursue dealing. If it was legalized, the price of marijuana would drop and dealers of marijuana would be no different than people who sell watches, comic books, or anything else on the streets.
It is amazing how we do not learn from history. History tells us this: when alcohol was made illegal, crime increased and demand did not die off as the government had hoped. Thankfully they reversed this ill-conceived policy and alcohol is now legal. Now when you look at marijuana, what have been the effects of making it illegal? The same thing! Crime, a huge black market, and demand not siphoning off. But sure enough, the status quo must be maintained. If only people realized that we are making the same mistake once again.
I recently was talking with a friend about how I did not vote for John McCain and some of the reasons why. We started to talk about drug policy and they made some comment about how it's just a bunch of potheads who want it legalized. But in reality, this is simply not true. I have never, and do not have an intention to, ever smoke marijuana. I believe it is harmful (but not nearly as harmful as the drugs alcohol and tobacco) but that is no reason to make it illegal. In fact, when you put the overwhelming evidence that making marijuana illegal has caused severe problems and social ills in America up against any sort of argument that marijuana should be illegal, it isn't even close. Legalizing marijuana would be "moving in the right direction," not continuing (and repeating) failed policies of prohibition.
You want to do something that would bring about real (and positive) change Mr. Obama? Repeal Prohibition of Marijuana.