Dear Mr. President,
I must begin to question some of your reasoning regarding your recent, dismissal and non-answer to a question posed to you through your online question polling service. At the website which you championed as a good move for American Democracy, you allowed users to submit and vote on questions that would be asked of you during a town-hall style meeting. One question in particular has drawn the ire of people from a variety of ideological backgrounds. The question of legalization of marijuana as a challenge to the failed policies of the “War on Drugs.”
In your book entitled Dreams of my Father, you cited your own drug use and abuse, as a problem. Paraphrasing, you stated you did it because you were suffering from depression. You claim to have used during this period of your life, so called “soft drugs,” such as marijuana and alcohol, and so called “hard drugs” such as cocaine. I am glad that you were able to clean up your life, go to college, and truly serve a variety of communities.
Now, pause for a second of contemplation. Your illegal drug use back then was by all accounts as illegal as it was now. This fact has not changed for some time, at least not in my lifetime and from my reading of history not since the early twentieth century. That given I pose the following situation: Young Barack Obama is arrested and jailed for drugs possession. Now ask these questions:
- How would the Obama story have ended had you been treated as so many other black and brown persons have been treated when they are caught in possession of illegal drugs?
- Would your story have been as inspiring?
- Would your beautiful wife have married you?
- Would you have been elected junior Senator from the great state of Illinois?
- Would you be President of the United States today?
The United States jails more people per capita than any other industrialized nation. More than 500,000 of those incarcerated are in prison for drug possession.
I understand your attempt to be like former President Reagan, you hope to reach across party lines, etc., but continuing his failed “war on drugs” is not change. The mere fact that you got away with committing a crime does not make it okay, and if it does, why does it not make it okay for all of those people referenced above?
With all due respect,
P.S. I do not pretend to know the all the answers or the future, it could be that treating drug use as a health issue would be as big a failure as treating it as a criminal issue. But I do know that treating drug use as a criminal issue has been a failure, and as such we have the responsibility to search for more viable options to solve problems. We are a nation of “doers” we must do something.