When it comes to federal raids on state-authorized marijuana growers and entrepreneurs, Obama’s track record is worse than Bill Clinton’s, and even worse than that of George W. Bush. Though the reportage on Obama’s overzealous DEA is abundant, not many are willing to speculate on what’s led the Obama administration to pursue such aggressive enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act. If federal marijuana policy were a screenplay, we’d surely be wondering by this point—what’s Obama’s motivation? Obama is the most liberal president to take office in decades, the first president to openly admit to both smoking and "inhaling" marijuana. Something doesn’t add up.
State legalization initiatives are alleged to have given Obama an election boost, with marijuana legalization serving as a kind of magnet, drawing out a larger segment of the youth vote to the polls. Meanwhile, Obama’s been quite careful (vague) when speaking to the issue of legalization. “I don’t think legalizing drugs is going to be the answer.” That’s pretty much the entire transcript of Obama’s drug war commentary during this election.
It would make sense, to an extent, that Obama would avoid commenting too extensively on the drug war during a national election. While he doesn’t want to isolate the millions of Americans who support marijuana legalization, he’d also do well not to spook his more conservative contingencies, ie senior citizens and more conservative-minded independents.
Obama’s rhetorical choices may seem to make sense within the context of reelection strategy, but the greater mystery remains— why is Obama the most aggressive federal enforcer of drug laws in over 16 years?
The short answer is: we don’t know. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try and find out. We want to know what the Greenies think of this conundrum. Leave your theories in the comments section below. Here’s one to get you started:
1) Obama’s historic health care reform will be fully implemented by the end of his second term. Though few (if any) have read the entirety of this massive piece of legislation, it’s safe to assume that many business relationships between the federal government, insurance companies, and drug companies will be reformed, redesigned, and newly brokered, with many of these restructurings cutting into the abusive profiteering of the big drug companies and insurers. “Big Pharma,” one of the most immense federal lobbies ever known to man, would like nothing better than to suppress the legal emergence of marijuana as a powerful medicine. Why? Well, unlike your standard inorganic pop-and-swallow meds that Big-Pharma banks on, marijuana is not readily patentable. If a pharmaceutical company attempted to patent a strain of marijuana, it would only take a matter of weeks before a new strain could be developed that could compete on the open market without patent infringement. Medical marijuana— especially as a potentially effective treatment for big-dollar, high-profile diseases such as cancer— does not bode well for the bottom line of the modern drug industry. Obama simply couldn’t afford to run a campaign without Big-Pharma dollars in his war chest, and the ongoing implementation of Obamacare makes this relationship all the more important. Perhaps Obama’s counter-intuitive aggressions against marijuana are the mark of a concession to the demands of the drug industry. Obama’s first priority is to accomplish the structural reform of a broken healthcare system. Ever the pragmatist, he probably sees it as unwise to welcome a powerful, competitive, organic medicine into the marketplace at a time when he needs to maximize cooperation.
What do you think of Obama’s harsh record on pot? Leave it in the comments.