Obama to Focus on War on Drugs?


I don’t know what to make of this vague report from Marc Ambinder, who says he’s been told by those close to Obama that the president wants to “tackle” the war on drugs if he wins a second term. As Ambinder notes, Obama has often talked about opposing the damage done by the war on drugs.

According to ongoing discussions with Obama aides and associates, if the president wins a second term, he plans to tackle another American war that has so far been successful only in perpetuating more misery: the four decades of The Drug War.

Don’t expect miracles. There is very little the president can do by himself. And pot-smokers shouldn’t expect the president to come out in favor of legalizing marijuana. But from his days as a state senator in Illinois, Obama has considered the Drug War to be a failure, a conflict that has exacerbated the problem of drug abuse, devastated entire communities, changed policing practices for the worse, and has led to a generation of young children, disproportionately black and minority, to grow up in dislocated homes, or in none at all.

Those are words; the actions of his administration in the last three and a half years speak much louder, and in the opposite direction. So consider me more than a bit skeptical in thinking he’ll be doing anything at all to fix this problem.

Comments

  1. d cwilson says

    If we can’t expect legalization, how about at least reforming the property forfeiture system? Maybe require them to secure a conviction first.

  2. Francisco Bacopa says

    We can dream, but I agree it’s wise to be skeptical. However, if Obama were to effectively address the the worst of the war on drugs and stop the growth of the prison-industrial complex that would be as important a legacy as LBJ’s legacy on civil rights.

  3. says

    If we can’t expect legalization, how about at least reforming the property forfeiture system? Maybe require them to secure a conviction first.

    Let’s start small: how about they must at least be charged with a crime.

  4. says

    I fell for his campaign promises last election. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Of course, I feel I should point out that as a Texas resident, I can safely protest vote since Romney will most likely win Texas whether I vote for Obama or a nobody. It’s not so easy for the swing state residents.

  5. kyleharris says

    If anyone actually believes that Obama will do this then they are very, very gullible. They also have a very short memory.
    Not only has Obama not helped with this issue in the last 3 1/2 years, he has gone the opposite direction on it.

  6. Dennis N says

    However, if Obama were to effectively address the the worst of the war on drugs and stop the growth of the prison-industrial complex that would be as important a legacy as LBJ’s legacy on civil rights.

    If the drug was is done away with, reactionaries in our society will need to find a new way to keep minorities down. We went from slavery to Jim Crow to the drug war. There is a seamless continuity in the systems to keep minorities from attaining any form of social or economic equality. Maybe the next one will be these fancy new voting restrictions with a dash of SB1070 type laws?

  7. says

    Obama campaign is trying to get young people out to vote. No promises of any actual policy of course. But remember his comfortable shoes walking shoes? Don’t even believe his promises.

  8. says

    As I sit here in the Bay Area having watched this administration shut down hundreds of dispensaries including the one I used (yes, I am a “real” patient, not that I think it matters…) despite said dispensary having won awards from the city council for being an asset to the community, and from the chamber of commerce and newspapers, and despite the pleas of the city council, all I can say is I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Hell, if history is a guide then any promise from Obama in favor of reform should be expected to be followed by a sweeping and unprecedented crackdown.

  9. Zugswang says

    Don’t expect miracles. There is very little the president can do by himself.

    Now, I thought the attorney general had the authority under the Controlled Substances Act to reschedule drugs into different classes. If I’m not mistaken, then it should, on the contrary, be relatively easy for the president to have a significant impact.

  10. Doug Little says

    Why not just decriminalize it for a start. Stop putting people in jail for possession of personal use amounts of weed.

  11. says

    Adopting the Portuguese policy on drugs would be a great start, given that it has actually been proved to be remarkably successful but, of course, it requires chronic drug-users to be treated as patients and not criminals, so there isn’t a hope in hell of the Republicans supporting it.

  12. Rip Steakface says

    As I recall, the executive has the authority to reschedule substances… so I think it would be a relatively simple move to reschedule marijuana as a much lower schedule drug. I personally think Schedule V would be the most regulation that’s sensible, but at least III would be helpful.

  13. chrisdevries says

    Anyone who is seriously considering not voting, or voting for a third-party (or no party) candidate (especially if they live in a swing state) needs to reconsider the stakes here. Yes, Obama made promises he couldn’t keep when running for president in ’08. He continued with the Patriot Act bullshit, kept Guantanamo Bay open for business, and even when he kept his word and acted on certain issues (like health care), the result was often legislation that is full of concessions to Republicans and Tea Partiers. The rationale for enacting and preserving conservative laws was sometimes cited as because the more left-wing aspects that were removed would have made the bill fail to gain the necessary votes to pass it, but there are cases when Obama’s own conservative nature shone through. He won the first election on a platform of progressive ideology, but on some issues, Obama has sturdily avoided progress.

    All of that nasty reality certainly makes many former Obama supporters question whether they can support him again; some disillusioned liberals may even be inclined to stay home on voting day. This is a mistake! America’s two-party system is perhaps the worst example of democracy in action in the entire Western world because it means that ultimately, one of two people must become president on the first Tuesday in November. It also means that only a small percentage of America’s population (those who live in swing states) actually decides every election. If you live in one of these states, by staying home or voting for a third party candidate, you are handing the presidency to Romney.

    Now this may not seem so catastrophic to some people, but in the next four years, probably two Supreme Court justices will retire, and the sitting president will select their replacements (though there are confirmation hearings and the like as well). Compare Obama’s selections and W’s selections, and consider the essentialist, Christian nation jurists that America will have to live with for the next 20 years if Romney wins. It is these people who will kill the living Constitution and make their black mark on the law (upholding socially conservative ideals and suppressing progress).

    The damage George W. Bush did to all aspects of American life is reason enough not to trust Republicans with the ultimate power in America EVER AGAIN (or at least until they learn to embrace rationality rather than reactionary, laissez-faire, deregulated social Darwinism combined with a keen interest in your sex life). But if that doesn’t convince you, the power to appoint Supreme Court justices should. It’s YOUR laws, YOUR livelihood that will be impacted by future court decisions, and the party of looney-tunes cannot be trusted with that responsibility.

Leave a Reply