Saturday, April 4, 2009

Re-Hashing the Hash

Before the President went on his whistle-stop tour of Europe, he happened along to California to do an online Town Hall meeting, taking questions and answers from the people who elected him, and from many who didn't.

Fair dos. He's the People's President, after all.

Whilst at a Town Hall meeting in California, Obama was assailed with the question posed most on the Internet about possible legislation he might introduce during his tenure.

What about legalising marijuana?

Obama responded with a somewhat flippant answer, basically saying 'no' and commenting on the question reflecting something about online questioners, and moved on.

Needless to say, people went beserk, especially those who use the stuff and were hoping to have instant legalisation, especially from a President who has openly admitted using, not only pot (and actually inhaling) but also cocaine as well. They were more than beserk; they were righteously indignant to the point that one would have thought that Obama had let them down morally on an intensely personal level. Some people hurled more name-calling at him than the entire base of the GOP did during the campaign - and these people were Democrats.

I have to weigh in here.

Although I haven't done so in many a year, I've smoked the occasional joint and shared a bong in my past, mostly during my university days and immediately thereafter. I won't deny, also, that sometimes in moments of extreme stress and anxiety, I have the urge to toke a j and chill out. I daresay there are many people like this in my generation and certainly those who still partake and do so regularly. Therefore, I have no problem with marijuana being legalised.

There's no proof that it's addicting, it doesn't kill people, and although too much of anything isn't good for you, it's a rather harmless, recreational drug that makes people feel good. On another level, it's been proven to ease pain for many people who suffer certain types of diseases - rheumatoid arthritis and MS, amongst many.

So it ought to be legalised. It's beneficial medically and I happen to think that if people want to smoke it, they should be able to do so. After all, cigarettes and alcohol kill and people can get those legally; besides, the tax revenues would be beneficial.

But at this point in time, why bother the President with something so trivial in comparison to the economic problems we're suffering? Is legalising pot more important than balancing the books? Is it more important than hammering out a universal health care package? Is it more important than resolving the issue with Iraq and Pakistan?

I don't think so.

I want this legalised, but I honestly think the right way to go about it is by state-by-state legalisation. If each state voted it legal within its borders, one after another, it would be on the books for it to be, eventually, made into a federal law. So instead of lobbying your congressmen, who are either busy honing an economic package to save all our asses or fighting with those who are trying to do so, lobby your state representatives and your governor.

One by one, states are passing same-sex marriage laws, rather than waiting for pontificating Presidents to pussyfoot around an area they clearly find uncomfortable; so, just get our asses in gear and get this passed on a state level. OK, the South might be a bit slow (when haven't they been?), but hey, even Hank Williams Jr's done time for pot. He'd certainly condone this measure.

So all those stoners and ex-stoners like me should shut up and let the President get on with sorting out first things first. Join NORML or contact them to try to get a state branch started in your home state (are you listening, Virginia?) and try the statewide tack. By the time all the major stuff is beginning to be sorted, possibly later in the administration, the President might find a quiet time to sign this measure into law ... after a majority of states have done so before him.

It makes sense.

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