This may come as some surprise to you, but back in middle school, in spite of my liberal politics, I was actually quite the little social conservative. I used to get offended when people made fun of George W. Bush (being president is a hard job!) and was a big believer in abstaining from all sexual activity until marriage, thanks to the squad of churchy high schoolers who taught my abstinence based sex ed classes as well as an unconscious understanding that sex wasn’t going to be something I had to worry about for a very, very long time.
I was also well acquainted with the insidious dangers of marijuana, a gateway drug that was used to fund terrorism in a way that the public service announcements didn’t make entirely clear. However, even in 2002, when my post 9/11 bandwagon patriotism had essentially converted me into a miniature, overweight Sean Hannity with braces, I was still in favor of legalizing marijuana.
I recognized that it was incredibly dangerous, but I knew that plenty of other dangerous drugs like alcohol and cigarettes were legal forms of tax revenue, and I couldn’t see why we weren’t legalizing it so we could at least earn money to pay for the War on Terrorism and control distribution of the drug so terrorists would quit making money off of the stuff.
So, to recap: An ill-informed reactionary twelve year old who couldn’t multiply fucking fractions had a more rational and levelheaded drug policy than the Ivy League-educated 50-year-old with a couple of degrees who is currently President of the United States.
In the intervening years, I’ve learned how wrong I was about basically everything – George W. Bush was, is, and always will be a douchewhale, premarital sex is as awesome as it is rare, and marijuana, like Earth, is mostly harmless.* I mean, duh. (I still cannot multiply fractions.)
*That report I linked to was a government study commissioned by Richard Nixon in the 1970s, which he predictably ignored.
I learned these things by living my life for ten years, which is why I’m surprised that Barack Obama – who has lived longer than I have and is significantly more intelligent than I am – seems committed to seeing the drug banned and its users punished, states’ rights be damned.
I like President Obama a lot. I think he’s an excellent speaker and I’m a fan of healthcare, financial industry regulation, ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and any number of other things he’s done. I think he ran a great campaign in 2008, and 2012 seems poised to top it. And while I’m no sports authority, I’ve seen some pictures of the man playing basketball, and I’m convinced he’s by far the most ballin’ president in American history.
But forgive me if I get a bit snippy when the guy who’s got a brief history of cocaine use and a long history of cigarette use appoints a Bush-era moron to run the DEA, reverses his campaign promise to leave marijuana issues up to the states, and starts cracking down on licensed, tightly regulated, highly profitable dispensaries and grow operations.
I really can’t understand Obama’s position on this issue. I would get it if this was Bush or Clinton – they were both perfectly willing to ignore logic in favor of the status quo. But the reason Obama got my vote in 2008 wasn’t because of hope – it was because of common sense. He was campaigning to invest in American infrastructure, end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and leave marijuana alone, all of which are pretty damn good ideas for running America, if you ask me.
So the fact that in the past few months he’s gone all 1984 with drug raids, refused to discuss the issue with the public, and tabled any discussion of legalization with South American diplomats is really confusing to me, because these strike me as the sort of Republican-style reactionary politics I thought we could count on the executive branch to avoid, at least for four years.
I mean, President Obama is pro-choice, for Christ’s sake. This guy is willing to say he’s okay with giving women the choice to kill their unborn children if they want to – which is enough to get you straight up murdered in a big chunk of America – but he’s suddenly going all Nancy Reagan on businessmen growing marijuana for medical purposes, which is way less controversial.
He fought an incredibly bloody legislative battle to lay a framework for America’s first ever comprehensive healthcare plan in spite of all kinds of outcry, but marijuana legalization, which 50% of Americans support, is just too much to ask.
He’s worked to increase transparency and make government more accessible to Americans, but even when large numbers of us start asking why he’s breaking his own promise and superseding state law to go after people growing a plant that alleviates the pain and suffering of people with all kinds of illnesses, he flatly ignores us.
All I can think is that there’s got to be more to this – he’s playing some kind of Machiavellian, Atreides vs. Harkonnens political long game to sway some moderate Republican anti-pot voting bloc in order to win reelection in November, at which point he’ll quietly ease off on the pot crackdown so chemo patients can, y’know, eat again.
And call me a blind, Obama worshipping idiot, but if that is the case, I’d actually forgive him for it. A few months of ignorant, backwards drug policy is a small price to pay for four years of Mitt Romney not being president – because let’s be honest, if he won the election, marijuana would be the first of many things that would become illegal.
But whatever you do, don’t call this pot crackdown some element of President Obama’s grand, evil scheme to unite the whole world under the banner of socialism and put all of his opponents in front of Death Panels, terrorist fist bumping Michelle the entire time.
Why? Because if Barack Obama wanted to enslave the world, he’d want to ensure that no grass roots movement sprang up trying to stop him – and how better to keep people pacified and uninterested in fighting than by giving them easy access to a drug that makes you want to sit around, eat Doritos, and watch South Park all day?
Truman Capps apologizes if he misused the word ‘ballin’.