Thursday, November 13, 2014

President Obama should push for legalizing marijuana

With successful ballot measures in last week’s midterm elections, the number of states that have legalized marijuana doubled to four.
Alaska and Oregon joined Colorado and Washington state, which legalized pot in 2012. Voters in the District of Columbia also legalized marijuana last week, but only for possession, home cultivation and sharing, not commercial production or distribution.
In 2016, marijuana legalization is expected to be on the ballot in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana and Nevada.
The legalization of marijuana is an admission that the decades-long War on Drugs was a costly mistake, much like the prohibition of alcoholic beverages.
But the federal government still considers marijuana a controlled substance. That fact is preventing banks, Wall Street and big businesses like tobacco companies from getting involved in the potentially lucrative market.
President Barack Obama, a lame-duck politician who has admitted to smoking pot in his youth, should use what little political capital he has left to push for legalizing marijuana at the federal level.
Obama is a hypocrite for using marijuana when he was young but standing by as law enforcement continues to crack down on the drug. His administration has bullied legal medical marijuana businesses and strong-armed banks into rejecting legal marijuana money.
The tide is turning though. The general public is recognizing that marijuana has legitimate medical uses and is at least as safe as alcohol. They also see the harmful impact that criminalizing the weed has had on society.
After all, it’s doubtful Obama would ever have become president if he had been caught in possession of marijuana as a youth. Many thousands of men and women have had their records stained by criminal prosecution for the drug.

Photo: Stylized depictions of famous marijuana users including Barack Obama. The artwork, called “Celebrity Weedists,” was created by Michael Weinfeld for the Weedist.

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