Yesterday President Obama took part in a Reddit “ask me anything” but it would be better to describe it as an ask me anything, expect about drug policy. Every time President Obama has tried to engage in a question and answer session directly with regular Americans via the Internet the questions are dominated by issues related to drug policy in general and marijuana specifically. Obama tends to either quickly dismiss or, more often, completely ignore the subject even though the thousands of people who take the time to be part of the online forum constantly make it clear it is one of the issue they care most about.
Despite several of the most upvoted questions being about the drug war and marijuana prohibition, the President again chose to ignore the subject. Instead, he decided to answer important questions about the White House beer recipe and who his favorite basketball player is.
I’ve seen the Internet dismissively described as obsessed with pot questions, but personally I think this is primarily a byproduct of how completely the issue is ignored in the traditional political discourse. As a result, public forums become the only hope of raising the topic. Drug policy is a serious issue that directly affects the 1.6 million Americans arrested on drug charges every year and costs billions of dollars, but you rarely hear it even mentioned in interviews or in national debates.
Polls have found that 81 percent of the country supports medical marijuana and 74 percent want the federal government to respect state’s medical marijuana laws. This means the Obama administration’s aggressive actions against state medical marijuana programs is radically out of step with the desires of regular voters. When a democratically elected politician acts in a manner so contrary to the clear will of the electorate on a policy, it is not unreasonable for many to want him to at least face serious questions about his conduct.