Updated at the bottom with Obama's response. First posted at 7:01 a.m.
The people who want to decriminalize marijuana are bringing the issue to President Obama this morning.
A retired LAPD deputy chief, Stephen Downing, submitted a video to the White House in which he asks what the president would say to those who want “more changes to drug policy” — changes that would favor legalization and regulation.
It was the top video clip in a vote-based contest to see what the most popular questions would be for the president; he vowed to answer some of the winners today.
We're not sure who's the bigger glutton for punishment, the marijuana-legalization lobby, which has taken this tact before, or the White House, which is clearly uncomfortable with such questions yet continues to keep channels open to the wild wild Web.
In fall Obama took up questions from top vote-getters in an online contest the White House called “We The People.” The winner? One that asked the president, “Isn't it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol?”
The answer, of course, was no.
But that hasn't stopped the marijuana-decriminalization group Law Enforcement Against Prohibition from putting the issue before the commander in chief once more — this time via video.
From my 20 years of experience I have come to see our country's drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?
Don't expect Obama to see the light, however.
He has kept his distance from legalizers, and will probably continue to do so as the election year gets under way. In October, his White House drug czar didn't seem too open to change when he said:
Simply put, it is not a benign drug.
[Update at 4:04 p.m.]: Looks like Obama's online “Hangout” session blew off the drug by which America loves to hangout — marijuana. He didn't, apparently, address it. Associated Press.
[Added]: The folks from LEAP blame Google/YouTube for failing to present Obama with the most-popular video question. LEAP:
Today YouTube ignored a question advocating marijuana legalization from a retired LAPD deputy chief of police that won twice as many votes as any other video question in the White House's “Your Interview with the President” competition on the Google-owned site. They did, however, find the time to get the president on record about late night snacking, singing and dancing, celebrating wedding anniversaries and playing tennis.