In 2002, then Illinois state senator Barack Obama gave a stirring speech where he said these (now-famous) words:
I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.
And when Obama was running for president in 2008, talking about the war on drugs, he insisted that medical marijuana was an issue best left to state and local governments. “I’m not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue.” He promised to end the Bush administration raids on suppliers of medical marijuana, which is legal in 16 states.
So why is it that in the past year, the Obama administration has reversed its position and is again cracking down on medical marijuana providers — including those who obey all state and local laws — beyond anything done by Bush? Obama even renominated Michele Leonhart to head the DEA, even though she was a holdover drug warrior from the Bush administration who (counterintuitively and shockingly) claimed that the slaughter of close to 1000 Mexican children by the drug cartels was a “sign of success in the fight against drugs”.
According to the executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project “There’s no question that Obama’s the worst president on medical marijuana. He’s gone from first to worst.”
By any measure, the War on Drugs is a dumb war. And the war on marijuana is the dumbest of all, shoving an “ideological agenda down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.” The Obama administration has ignored a plea from two sitting governors to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which includes drugs like cocaine and meth as having a recognized medicinal value but with high potential for abuse. Instead, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug, which says it has no medicinal value at all, despite studies to the contrary.
Rolling Stone magazine (how apropos!) has an excellent article listing Obama administration raids on even the most law abiding medical marijuana dispensaries, and even targeting patients with severe illnesses who depend on the drug for relief.
Some people theorize that the Obama administration is cracking down on marijuana in an election year strategy to outflank the Republicans on their red-meat issues (not just on drugs, but on things like free trade and offshore drilling). If so, then Obama’s war on drugs is not only dumb, it is cynical.
It is time for the Obama administration to keep its promises and stop playing politics with people’s lives and health.