From the outset of his administration, President Obama has been likened to former president and instigator of liberal reform, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So far, this has applied mostly to his devotion to the needs of the worker and his inclination to look to big government programs to solve America's problems -- more specifically, his recent passage of the health care bill, which is comparable to the genesis of Social Security during FDR's presidency.
A less talked about aspect of FDR's reform however is his repeal of the Prohibition that kept America dry -- at least, on the surface -- for the majority of the 20s and some of the 30s. We are all familiar with the image of the underground speakeasy populated by flappers and gangsters, all trying to get their share of the forbidden booze, but not everyone knows that the end of the criminalization of alcohol started with FDR. In 1933, he issued an Executive Order to legalize beer with 3.2% alcohol content, which led to the passing of the Twenty-First Amendment and the formal repeal of Prohibition.
Is Obama furthering his reputation as the new New Dealer with his tentative support of the legalization of marijuana? In a 2009 memo, the Obama administration stated that it would not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they were in compliance with state laws, arguing that it would be a waste of federal resources. This cautious bid for legalization mirrors FDR's 3.2% beer order, and is perhaps an opportunity for Obama to do something more: e.g., show some public support for the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative that hits ballots this November, which, as one might ascertain from the name, would allow citizens to vote on the legalization of marijuana in California And not just the "medicinal" kind.
The question on many Californians' minds is: what will Obama do? Will he continue to emulate FDR and uphold his previous pronouncements, working towards the repeal of this Neo-Prohibition, or will he opt to follow in the footsteps of the Bush administration? Pot proponents and advocates for personal freedom hope for the former.