A funny thing happened during President Obama’s virtual town-hall meeting last month. The subject of pot came up. With a vengeance.
More than 100,000 questions were e-mailed to the White House in advance of the March 26 session, and marijuana legalization ranked at the top of four separate categories — green jobs, financial stability, jobs and budget. It was also a close second in a fifth category: health care.
In other words, it would have been embarrassing for the president to ignore the issue entirely. So towards the end of the session Obama opined on the question — or, more accurately, blew it off.
“I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation,” he said. “And I don’t know what this says about the online community.”
Then, as the laughter subsided, he added: “The answer is, no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy.”
Now there’s change we can believe in.
The answer should surprise no one. Coming out for marijuana legalization would involve making hard choices and political courage, and Obama doesn’t do hard choices. Thus the flip blow off of the top issue people bothered to ask about.
However, the truly interesting question here is not the one e-mailers were asking, but the one Obama asked: “I don’t know what this says about the online community.”
One thing it says about the online community is that a big part of it probably consists of the people who put his sorry ass in the White House.
Don’t take my word on this; consult a recent poll on marijuana legalization from the Rasmussen organization, which found that while marijuana legalization was opposed overall by a 40 percent to 46 percent margin (one of the narrowest margins ever recorded in a national poll on the subject), it was favored by Democrats 43 percent to 38 percent and by independents 49 percent to 41 percent (i.e. by the folks who voted for Obama last year). Republicans (i.e., the folks who overwhelmingly voted against Obama last year) opposed legalization by a 30 percent to 60 percent margin.
By the same token, younger voters — who tended to back Obama last year — favored legalization, while older voters — who tended to back McCain — opposed it. Voters who were 18 to 29 years old backed legalization by a 48 percent to 35 percent margin, and 30- to 39-year-olds backed it by a 53 percent to 36 percent margin. And 40- to 49-year-olds were closely divided on the issue. They opposed it 39 percent to 42 percent.
The two groups that were heavily opposed were 50 to 64, who were 35 percent to 53 percent opposed, and those over 65, who were nearly 3 to 1 opposed (23 percent to 67 percent). (Older voters were about the only demographic that voted for McCain.)
So it’s reasonable to assume that most of the people who asked Obama about pot legalization were Democrats and independents under the age of 40.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Thursday, April 09, 2009