It's become pretty clear that the president is going to be asked about marijuana legalization absolutely any time he takes questions from the public, so it kind of amazes me that he is actually getting worse at talking about it. This latest exchange is just embarrassing:
President Barack Obama sidestepped a question about medical marijuana legalization at a town hall event in Cannon Falls, Minnesota Monday.
"If you can't legalize marijuana, why can't you just legalize medical marijuana?" a woman asked the president.
"A lot of states are making decisions about medical marijuana," Obama explained. "As a controlled substance, the issue is then that is it being prescribed by a doctor as opposed to... you know, well, I'll leave it at that." [Raw Story]
That is the best he can do to address one of the hottest topics in modern American politics. He'll just "leave it at that," because an increasingly frustrated public might react negatively to a slightly lengthier attempt at explaining why anyone, least of all sick people, should ever have to worry about being arrested and thrown in jail for having some marijuana in their pocket.
To find oneself speechless in the midst of an intensifying debate is to reveal rather transparently the utter incoherence of one's position, and this could be the most complete collapse yet in the ugly history of political leaders trying and failing to defend our nation's massively unpopular war on medical marijuana. Reread, if you must, the statement above from Obama and ask yourself if that is an adequate answer to a question that continues to burn in the minds of so many among us.
Let me be the first to say that I am really very sorry that President Obama and various other people who don't want to discuss marijuana policy are being routinely forced against their will to do so. I can imagine what an annoying distraction this is when we have so many other issues to work on. There just seems to be some sort of misunderstanding happening here, wherein we came under the impression that if marijuana wasn't important enough to warrant even 30 seconds of meaningful discussion from the president, then it's also probably not important enough to justify arresting millions of us for possessing it.
I know I don't get to make the rules here, but it would be wonderful and very appropriate if we could just stop all of this, stop putting anyone at all in handcuffs for having marijuana, until someone like President Obama can at least summon the integrity to tell us in intelligent terms why things have to be this way. A leader speaks to the people and helps us understand the challenges we face. Obama's approach to marijuana policy and the debate surrounding it is not leadership, it's cowardice, and it's senseless from every standpoint, moral, practical and political.