He first treated legalization as a joke; then asked for suggestions from the public for policies for his administration. Of the top ten petitions, five had something to do with marijuana. A majority of Americans now favor an end to prohibition, as the graph shows above. But the Obama administration regurgitates the standard prohibitionist crap, issuing its public response on the Friday afternoon before Halloween. 74,000 signed the petition to treat marijuana as alcohol. The drug czar does not even grapple with the central question posed by the most popular petition on the site. Instead we get this:
According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health– the world's largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment. We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms. Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20's. Simply put, it is not a benign drug.
Notice the weasel words: "associated with addiction." I.e. nowhere near as addictive as alcohol, even using an expansive definition of "addiction." Exercize is also "associated with addiction," as Nick Kristof there are, of course, vaporizers to avoid the smoke issue.
Cigarettes are related to "respiratory disease" in a much, much, much more dangerous way because so much more tobacco is smoked. Why is tobacco not illegal? Alcohol gives you cognitive impairment. How many visits to emergency rooms occur because of alcohol in some way? And how more serious than a freaked out stoner getting paranoid? None of the arguments manages to explain why marijuana, unlike nicotine or alcohol, remains illegal, with all the disastrous effects that has with respect to Prohibition. Marijuana arrests are also highly skewed to racial minorities. Again, there's no White House concern about this. This comes after the California federal crackdown on medical marijuana, even if it was not a function of direction from Washington, DC. Happily, Eric Holder now has a lawsuit on his hands over the matter.
What's infuriating is this administration's refusal to have a serious debate about this, to actually engage the salient arguments of legalizers. We just have a defensive crouch, and an insult to large numbers of Obama voters and supporters, who, unlike this nicotine-addicted president, do not take the question of prohibition as a joke.