Posts filed under ‘open for questions’

Obama Citizens Briefing Book

Though Obama was able to dodge the question in his second round of Open for Questions, he may not be so lucky with the Citizens Briefing Book, which is more or less the same process under a different name – people like you and me voted on issues that they think Obama should be focusing on.

Guess what the most popular and the third most popular issues were. Surprised?

Neither are we.

But look at the wording of the top question, which received 92970 ‘points’ (1 vote = 10 points)

Ending Marijuana Prohibition

I suggest that we step back and take a non-biased “Science Based” approach to decide what should be done about the “Utter Failure” that we call the War on (some) Drugs.
The fact is that Marijuana is much less harmful to our bodies than other Legal Drugs such as Tobacco and Alcohol. And for the Government to recognize Marijuana as having Medicinal Properties AND as a Schedule I drug (Has NO medicinal Properties) is an obvious flaw in the system.
We must stop imprisoning responsible adult citizens choosing to use a drug that has been mis-labeled for over 70 years.

Ooh, this might be a trickier one to dodge. This isn’t asked as a question in the form of ‘will you’ (a question easily answered with one two-letter word). Not only that – it hits the nail quite squarely on the head, listing a few of the most salient points necessary, and invoking the magic word: ‘science’.

Like him or not, Obama is a politician, and politicians are nothing if not masters at dodging questions. I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama found a way to avoid opening Pandora’s box with this one as well (and I wouldn’t blame him for being afraid to do so). Still, we’re not making it any easier for him this time around, because Obama either has to ignore all scientific evidence (as John Walters is clearly not above of doing) or try and provide solid, logical reasons why we should… uphold illogical drug laws.

Don’t be shocked to find a less-than-satisfactory response to this question. In all reality, the purpose of this system (and the ‘Open For Questions’ exchanges as well) is not to extract meaningful, groundbreaking responses from the president-elect (in other words, if he hasn’t spoken up about an issue in front of the media yet, why should this be any different?) The real purpose is twofold:

1. See what people actually care about

2. Show people that Obama cares about #1.

And, given the results of all three surveys (for lack of a better word), I’d say that we’ve succeeded in our part. Like it or not, Obama is going to have to make some changes in the current system of dealing with drugs. Maybe not immediately, but eventually. That, or come up with some very compelling reasons not to – and between you and me, I’d say that the clock is ticking for pro-Prohibitionists to come forward with some actual scientific evidence to back their policies. I think seven decades is long enough, don’t you?

January 19, 2009 at 2:45 am 1 comment

Obama Responds Again to the Marijuana Question

Or, in this case, doesn’t respond again.

The second round of ‘Open for Questions’ at change.gov has closed, and the administration has already posted a video response to some of the top questions. Note the operative word here. As is written on the page:

Since there were so many popular questions in so many categories, we tried to pull out some of them that had been addressed previously by the President-elect or Vice President-elect in order to focus the video portion on questions that haven’t been as specifically addressed during the Transition.

To be entirely honest, I excepted this result. Obama cannot backtrack on the statement that he made in the first round of responses, so they chose to answer the question phrased as ‘will you’ rather than one worded as ‘why’ (as some were).

The point of voting was not to extract a response, but rather to demonstrate the widespread support for reform. As my last count, there were either three or four questions related to drug policy reform in the top ten ‘Additional Questions’ (one of which kept flip-flopping between first and second place), and three related to drug policy reform under ‘National Security’.

I’d consider that a success, if nothing else.

The first real test of this administration and its treatment of marijuana policy reform will be the appointment of the next drug czar. There have been rumors that Jim Ramstad is the pick, and I hope that they are unsubstantiated, because Ramstad would be a terrible choice. Ramstad opposes medicinal marijuana, which, as I have noted before, will probably be the first step in reform.

All is not lost yet, though. There are several ways to let Obama know that we expect better:

In our efforts to change local laws – efforts that have been almost universally successful in recent years – we should not forget the importance of reforming drug policy at the national level, which sets the tone for the country as a whole.

January 9, 2009 at 8:16 pm 2 comments

Marijuana Tops Second Round of Change

Of the top ten questions in the ‘Additional issues’ section, five relate to marijuana, including the top three questions from the section. 

The second most popular question under ‘National Security’ begins, ‘Our current war on drugs is failing America’. 
Clearly, marijuana policy reform is an important issue to those concerned about this administration. Massachusetts and Michigan both passed ballot initiatives to reform marijuana laws in the November elections, and these intiatives received a bigger share of the vote than Obama did.
We need to be sure that the new administration understands how strongly the country feels about this issue. Keep voting at change.gov – for those of you who haven’t already, registration is fast and painless (they don’t even send a confirmation email).

December 31, 2008 at 4:49 am Leave a comment

Change.gov Open Again for Questions

Barack Obama has opened a section of his website for a second round of questions.

Last time, the top question was about marijuana policy reform, and Obama’s answer was brief and dismissive: ‘President-elect obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.’

No explanation, no evidence, and no rationale. If I had to guess why, I’d probably say because Obama knows there is no rational explanation.

Here is our chance to send a strong message: yes, we actually meant it! If you log into change.gov (and you don’t even need to verify your email, so it should take about thirty seconds to register), you will see that questions about marijuana are in the top ten under categories such as ‘National Security’ and ‘Additional Issues’. There are multiple questions about marijuana in each category, and the more we vote for these questions, the more likely we are to see change in this administration.

My personal opinion: questions about ending DEA raids are the most significant, because it is the step that Obama is most likely to take first. He can end DEA raids on patients using marijuana with a prescription, all without spending much political capital.

That said, vote for all the questions that you would like Obama to answer. Let’s make sure that the Obama administration gets the message.

December 30, 2008 at 4:47 am Leave a comment


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