Our vice president has a long and storied history of eyebrow-raising and indecipherable comments – “Bidenisms” as they’re known – and he had another doozy to offer yesterday. Speaking to a group of Latin American leaders, who have grown increasingly emboldened in their calls for legalization of marijuana and other drugs due to the deaths of tens of thousands of their citizens at the hands of powerful, murderous drug cartels, Biden offered this: “It warrants a discussion. It’s totally legitimate for this to be raised. It’s worth discussing … but there is no possibility that the Obama-Biden administration will change its policy on legalization.”
Huh? Why bother having the discussion if you’re only going to listen to your half of it? That’s like a judge presiding over a criminal trial even though he’s already sentenced the defendant. Call off your research and pack up your “totally legitimate” policy arguments, this administration won’t be listening to any of it. For an administration that claims it wants to put science before ideology and politics when it comes to drug policy, this seems to indicate there is “no possibility” there will be a change in policy no matter how much scientific research is done. At least legalization is in his vocabulary, I suppose.
Of course, what’s important here is that, whether the administration is listening or not, this conversation is happening. More and more people, including influential heads of state, are joining our side and calling for the end of marijuana prohibition. Voters in Colorado and Washington state will have a chance to join them this November, and if the polls are right, the administration will hear them loud and clear.
A day after Whitney Houston’s unexpected death, singer Tony Bennett, music icon and winner of 17 Grammy Awards, paid tribute to the award-winning star at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party. He took this opportunity not only to honor her life and accomplishments and sing a song in her memory, but also to advocate for the legalization of drugs.
(Photo Credit: AP)
In spite of the fact that there is speculation that Houston’s death was drug-related, given her history with drug use (including marijuana), Bennett bravely spoke up about what so many already know: the war on drugs is a failure and is more harmful to society than the drugs themselves. For marijuana offenses alone, there were over 850,000 arrests in 2010, and 88% of those were for simple possession.
Watch this video of Tony Bennett speaking up for change. He gets it, and he had the courage to say so.
(Author’s Edit: Original video was taken down by YouTube user. New video links to CNN’s coverage, with Tony Bennett’s comments, as well as a panel discussion including Arianna Huffington, who echoed Bennett’s sentiments that the war on drugs has failed.)
In a poll released today, the Pew Research Center reports that more people support marijuana legalization than ever before. Supporters are not yet the majority, but the numbers have been trending our way slowly but surely every year:
The public is divided over whether the use of marijuana should be legal or not; half (50%) oppose legalization while nearly as many (45%) favor legalizing marijuana. Support for legalizing marijuana is up slightly since March, 2010; and over the past 40 years – drawing on trends from Gallup and the General Social Survey – support for legalizing marijuana has never been higher.
Young people under the age of 30 favor legalizing the use of marijuana by a 54%-42% margin. Opinion is divided among those in middle age groups. Those 65 and older are broadly opposed to legalization (66% illegal, 30% legal).
Given that the number of people who agree with legalization has been rising by about 1% per year, the message here is clear:
We need to keep talking about this issue with everyone we know. If we continue to educate our fellow citizens, many of whom still buy into the Reefer Madness propaganda of yesteryear, support for ending marijuana prohibition will be the majority opinion sooner than we think.
On Friday, February 18, The Seattle Times ran an editorial endorsing HB 1550, a bill introduced by Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson that would tax and regulate marijuana in the state of Washington. The editorial was thoughtful, reasoned, and logical. Apparently, the Office of National Drug Control Policy doesn’t appreciate this kind of rabble-rousing.
Beyond the obvious chilling of First Amendment rights implicated by an executive official making such a request, one can only assume that Czar Kerlikowske is making the cross-country flight on the American taxpayer dime. At the very least, Czar Kerlikowske will be ‘bullying’ the editorial board on the clock, meaning the taxpayer is paying for him to do this. Considering we’re paying for his flight and his meeting, we should at least be able to sit in via the Internet! In the interest of a transparent government, please join us in requesting that this meeting be streamed live via the World Wide Web.
Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has stated on many occasions that his vocabulary does not include the word “legalization.” Now today, we learn that our nation’s top drug warrior doesn’t know the meaning of the word “prohibition” either.
Sadly, I’m not making this up.
In an online video interview today with the Washington Post, Kerlikowske says the Obama administration is “very much opposed” to taxing and regulating marijuana because—get this—he says the taxes paid on alcohol do not make up for the “criminal justice, health care, [and] social costs” of alcohol consumption. Oh, and he just assumes taxes on marijuana wouldn’t either, though he doesn’t bother to mention the billions of dollars we could save on law enforcement, prison, judicial and environmental costs by calling for an end to the futile and unwinnable war the government wages against our country’s largest cash crop and the millions of otherwise law-abiding Americans who use it.
This bizarre answer prompts Post editor Fred Hiatt, the interviewer, to ask an obvious question: “So … are you looking at the prohibition of alcohol?”
The drug czar chuckles. “No,” he says, “we’re not exploring prohibition.” Continue reading →