Marijuana legalization is by far the top issue on the White House’s “We the People” site, leaving other online petition requests in the dust, a new review shows.
Legalization has been the top issue on the petition site since it launched last month as a way for citizens to lobby for issues that matter the most to them, reports Ambreen Ali.
The White House hasn’t yet responded to the marijuana petition. Judging on his track record, President Obama will either belittle and giggle the issue away, or look serious and mouth meaningless platitudes about “more treatment” and “more research” while continuing to pursue his Administration’s war against both recreational and medical marijuana the people who use it.
Every single time the federal government asks the citizens of the United States which issues matter the most to them, marijuana has topped the list. Marijuana legalization was the most popular issue raised on Twitter, YouTube and Change.gov, the president’s transition site.
None of those upswells of citizen sentiment resulted in any significant change to government policy and direction—and, in fact, the Obama Administration is seemingly seeing just how far it can regress towards the cannabis repression of the Bush, Clinton and even Reagan years.
“I don’t know what this says about the online audience,” Obama joked when answering questions from Change.gov two years ago, when marijuana topped the poll. He then dismissed the idea that legalizing marijuana would boost the economy.
“Politicians, starting with President Obama, will need to understand that they’re actually damaging themselves politically by taking these actions,” said Steve Fox, a lobbyist for the trade group National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)
According to marijuana advocates, polls show that most Americans are on their side, especially younger votes.
“Our opposition is dying and those who are younger just became increasingly supportive because they know it’s not a big deal,” Fox said.
“What it seems to say is that while the marijuana lobby has a motivated base of online supporters, pot advocates have failed to translate that grass-roots support into political might,” Ali wrote.
|Allen St. Pierre, NORML: “The political mind is pretty simple”|
“The political mind is pretty simple: What can you do for me, what can you do to harm me ... We’re not effectively casting that in either direction,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)
, which started the top White House petition on cannabis.
Online petitions help spread the word and generate supporters who can call and write Congress, but they haven’t translated into the real-world pressure—and money—needed for legalization to win, St. Pierre said.
NORML’s political action committee contributed about $10,000 in the previous election. Another pro-cannabis group, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
, spent nearly $80,000 in the 2010 election cycle and also devoted $60,000 to lobbying last year, not much when compared to the millions of dollars spent by other special-interest groups.
“We are not nearly as organized to put together the type of donations and PACs that arrest and immediately catch the attention of the elite body politic,” St. Pierre said.
Advocates to have a bipartisan marijuana legalization bill to point to. The measure, backed by Reps. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts), would limit the federal government’s role in marijuana enforcement. It’s seen as unlikely to pass, but MPP spokesman Morgan Fox (no relation to the NCIA’s Steve Fox) called the bill a “placeholder” to “keep the conversation alive.”
|St. Petersburg Republican Club|
|Crazy-ass Calvina Fay, Drug Free America Foundation: “It’s an impairing drug. People have been harmed by it. To say it is a safe drug is just another one of their big fat lies.”|
“Considering the current political climate on the federal level, I don’t think we’re ever going to see a tax-and-regulate system for marijuana consumption,” Morgan Fox said. “I think we’ll see the feds stepping back and allowing the states to regulate it.”
The online petitions help to generate media interest and serve to chip away at the stigma surrounding marijuana, according to Morgan Fox. “Politicians need courage,” he said. “Courage comes in the form of lots of public support.”
But online support is not enough; that’s one thing on which NORML and MPP. According to Morgan Fox, many pot supporters feel comfortable backing the issue on the Internet, with its relative anonymity, but aren’t ready to advocate marijuana legalization in person.
Meanwhile, increasingly irrelevant whack jobs like Calvina Fay, executive director of the Drug Free America Foundation, continue spouting their fear-filled nonsense.
“It’s an impairing drug,” Fay claimed. “People have been harmed by it. To say it is a safe drug is just another one of their big fat lies.”