We the Administration — You the People

“Change we can believe in” was the campaign slogan of Senator Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. But if you thought that the Obama campaign meant that it would listen to citizens and be willing to change course when new information became available, well, you must be new at this.

The petition system at WhiteHouse.gov was much heralded.

 This tool provides you with a new way to petition the Obama Administration to take action on a range of important issues facing our country.

New tools are nice. But if the administration doesn’t actually become more adaptive, then these new tools provide nothing more than a faster, more high-tech “fuck you” to petitioners. I suppose that’s not nothing… a “fuck you” today is preferable to a “fuck you” many months later (or more realistically, never). But it’s not what people ultimately want from their government.

As an example, take the multiple petitions about legalizing (and taxing and regulating) marijuana. Half of all Americans support legalizing marijuana. Marijuana has lower addiction rates than tobacco, alcohol, and even caffeine. There is no possibility of overdose (alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine can all kill you if you take too much). All of the arguments against legalizing marijuana apply much, much more to alcohol. The Obama administration’s response to the petition about marijuana by former police chief Gil Kerlikowske was insulting, and full of misdirection, outdated studies, and lies.

When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.

Surprise! All of their “science” is outdated, selectively quoted, and made to match ideology and politics.

According to scientists at the National Institutes of Health- the world’s largest source of drug abuse research – marijuana use is associated with addiction, respiratory disease, and cognitive impairment.

Less addictive than alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. No physical symptoms of withdrawal. Respiratory disease is only related to people who smoke the plant. And more recent studies have shown that there is no permanent cognitive impairment even for chronic marijuana users. As for the temporary cognitive impairment, well gee, that’s sort of the whole point.

We know from an array of treatment admission information and Federal data that marijuana use is a significant source for voluntary drug treatment admissions and visits to emergency rooms.

Nope and nope. Most marijuana use treatment admissions are involuntary (court-ordered). And marijuana has a much lower emergency room admission rate than alcohol.

Studies also reveal that marijuana potency has almost tripled over the past 20 years, raising serious concerns about what this means for public health – especially among young people who use the drug because research shows their brains continue to develop well into their 20’s.

When potency goes up, you take less. And for people who smoke the plant, this means less wear and tear on their lungs — a good thing!

Like many, we are interested in the potential marijuana may have in providing relief to individuals diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. That is why we ardently support ongoing research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine. To date, however, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the modern standard for safe or effective medicine for any condition.

Of course not. The FDA likes isolated drugs in specific doses. THC could easily be extracted and taken in pill form. This is a straw man argument.

As a former police chief, I recognize we are not going to arrest our way out of the problem. We also recognize that legalizing marijuana would not provide the answer to any of the health, social, youth education, criminal justice, and community quality of life challenges associated with drug use.

Yes it would. It absolutely would. It would solve all of the problems you mentioned.

That is why the President’s National Drug Control Strategy is balanced and comprehensive, emphasizing prevention and treatment while at the same time supporting innovative law enforcement efforts that protect public safety and disrupt the supply of drugs entering our communities. Preventing drug use is the most cost-effective way to reduce drug use and its consequences in America. And, as we’ve seen in our work through community coalitions across the country, this approach works in making communities healthier and safer.

Marijuana is only a public safety issue because it is illegal. And you’ll never succeed with a law enforcement approach. Marijuana can be grown indoors, in a box the size of a mini-fridge. You’re not going to get rid of it.

We’re also focused on expanding access to drug treatment for addicts. Treatment works. In fact, millions of Americans are in successful recovery for drug and alcoholism today. And through our work with innovative drug courts across the Nation, we are improving our criminal justice system to divert non-violent offenders into treatment.

Great. Why not go all the way, and stop making non-violent marijuana use a crime altogether?

Our commitment to a balanced approach to drug control is real. This last fiscal year alone, the Federal Government spent over $10 billion on drug education and treatment programs compared to just over $9 billion on drug related law enforcement in the U.S.

Legalizing (and regulating) marijuana would net $10-$14 billion for the federal government. We could double our treatment programs for methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and other drugs that are actually harmful.

Thank you for making your voice heard. I encourage you to take a moment to read about the President’s approach to drug control to learn more.

Thank Fuck you too, Gil.

Update: Perfect.