As soon as I read Tim Dickinson's article titled Obama's Pot Problem, I realized that he demonstrated how it is possible to criticize one of the President's policies without falling prey to that kind of Obama Derangement Syndrome. I'll grant that my assessment of his article is probably influenced by the fact that I agree with his position. But it really goes way beyond that.
For example, he recognizes that there is disagreement on this within the administration.
A big reason for the get-tough stance, say White House insiders, is that federal agencies like the Drug Enforcement Administration are staffed with hard-liners who have built their careers on going after pot. Michele Leonhart, a holdover from the Bush administration whom Obama has appointed to head the DEA, continues to maintain that pot is as dangerous as heroin – a position unsupported by either science or experience. When pressed on the point at a congressional hearing, Leonhart refused to concede any distinction between the two substances, lamely insisting that "all illegal drugs are bad."Of course its true that Obama is the President and makes the calls. But it is refreshing to also hear something about the landscape we're dealing with on this one.
"There are not many friends to legalization in this administration," says Kevin Sabet, director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida who served the White House as a top adviser on marijuana policy. In fact, the politician who coined the term "drug czar" – Joe Biden – continues to guide the administration's hard-line drug policy. "The vice president has a special interest in this issue," Sabet says. "As long as he is vice president, we're very far off from legalization being a reality."
Perhaps most importantly, Dickinson zero's in on how change is likely to happen.
What the president needs to act boldly, reform advocates believe, is for the rising tide of public opinion to swamp the outdated bureaucracy of the War on Drugs. "The citizens have become more savvy about the drug war," says Franklin, the former narcotics cop. "They know this is not just a failed policy – they understand it's also a very destructive policy."If you're interested in this issue, I highly recommend reading the whole article. He summarizes how Colorado and Washington advocacy groups were effective in getting their referendums passed as well as the legal hurdles and possibilities facing this administration - all without having to resort to calling President Obama a "coward" or a "corporate tool."
On Franklin's point about educating the public about this failed and destructive war on drugs, I'll simply remind you that today the documentary titled Breaking the Taboo was released on Youtube. Here it is. Watch it and then share it.