Past Presidents and political campaigns found they could often ignore the public’s desire for marijuana policy reform, party because of bipartisan support for the War on Drugs. But the growth of the internet means that now the issue simply will not go away.
Every time the Obama administration gives Americans the ability to use the internet to indicate what policies they want to be debated more, the issue of marijuana reform has dominated.
- Right after winning the 2008 election the Obama team on Change.gov allowed Americans to vote for questions they wanted the president elect to answer. A marijuana legalization question easily got enough votes to be ranked #1, and the marijuana question dominated the top slots. The Obama team basically ignored the issue.
- In March of 2009 the Obama administration allowed people to submit and vote for questions for a live internet town hall. Again a marijuana legalization question dominated the voting.
- In January 2011 Obama teamed up with Youtube to have another open question and answer session. All of the top 10 Youtube questions with the most votes were about marijuana reform.
- In Jule 2011, possibly because the Obama team was getting annoyed with marijuana dominating every open question system that allowed voting, they held a Twitter town hall. Despite there being no voting, indicators show that marijuana reform questions were the most popular with people engaged in the town hall, but the question was not put to the president.
- Just a few days ago Obama team started a new “We the People” petition program that allows Americans to directly petition the White House online. This time a marijuana legalization petition was the first petition to pass the 5,000 threshold, and it is still the most popular petition on the site.
Marijuana reform is an issue many Americans, especially younger Americans, care deeply about, but it is often totally ignored by our political system. Now the internet has provided young Americans with a tool they can use to force the issue into our national political discourse.
As the 2012 race starts to heat up, expect the issue of marijuana reform to continue to dominate any attempts by Obama to use the internet to have two way communications with voters. Thanks to the internet, there is no way Obama will be able to ignore the issue, especially if his campaign is going to be focused on getting young voters to turnout for him.