Barack Obama is a Hypocrite

$100 to Obama (Scripting News) Dave Winer has a post out saying that he gave $100 to Barrack Obama and that he is supporting him in the upcoming Presidential primary.

From Dave: “I was totally on the fence until they [the Clintons] started saying he [Obama] said things he didn’t say. Maybe I could have ignored it if he hadn’t been saying things we need him to say, imho. The reason people running for office don’t try to express complicated ideas is because people like the Clintons will spin it with confusion, and try to convince us he said something idiotic, corrupt or naive.”

Which I read as Dave Winer isn’t supporting the Clintons more than anything because they are liars. Fair enough.

But is being a liar any worse than being a hypocrite?

Personally I won’t be supporting either the Clintons or Obama in the upcoming Democratic Presidential Primary.

I lost all faith for Barack Obama when I heard his weak sauce response to his marijuana use. While admitting that he in fact smoked pot and inhaled as a kid he nonetheless today does not support decriminalization.

Even though, from experience, Obama knows that marijuana is no worse for people than alcohol, and even though the war on drugs is wrecking havoc on the black community that he purports to support, he’d rather continue locking up people for minor marijuana offenses than to decriminalize it and have it sold (and taxed) legally down at the local liquor store.

According to FBI statistics, Law enforcement officers made more arrests for drug abuse violations in 2005 (an estimated 1.8 million arrests, or 13.1 percent of the total) than for any other offense. Someone smoking pot in their own home, hurting no one, does not deserve to be arrested. Obama himself did not deserve to be arrested when he smoked pot.

And yet even though Barak Obama smoked plenty of pot himself and knows that it is not the boogeyman that it’s made out to be, rather than call for decriminalization, he does the politically expedient thing and opposes decriminalization. His pot use was a “mistake” he says. A youthful indiscretion. And yet I’m sure truly in his heart he does not believe that he ought to have spent years in jail for his own pot use.

Ask yourself this. Where would Obama be today if he’d been arrested for his pot use when he was a kid? What if instead of going to Occidental College and then Columbia University after high school, instead he’d spent a few years in prison. Would he be better off today? Would we be better off today? Would society be better off today? Would we all be safer if Obama had spent a few years in jail for his “mistake?”

I’ll tell you one thing. If he’d been sent to jail for his pot use back then, he certainly wouldn’t be running for President today. And *that* is hypocrisy, plain and simple.

There are millions of people in the U.S. in jail right now because of marijuana convictions. How many of these people will be worse off in their future because of this? How many young people will be denied the same opportunities that Obama got simply because he didn’t get caught.

Politics as usual. Hypocrisy as usual. Can’t really see any way to get behind this guy.

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49 Comments

  1. Lieke says:

    Amen! I love how you think of what would have become of Obama if he would have been in jail for such an offense, but it wouldn’t have been where he is today for sure… And coming from The Netherlands myself, I totally agree with you on decriminalising it (and I don’t even smoke myself!)

  2. Sneezy says:

    (Reposting with correct book title)

    I didn’t come away from reading his mentioning of his smoking pot in Dreams From My Father as him being in support of having done it. Instead it sounded more like a guilty admission?

    So… Maybe he doesn’t know all the things you suppose from his past usage?

  3. Andy Roth says:

    If Barak supported decriminalizing marijuana he would definitely win the election – for the republicans. They would get their base to rally around that one issue, and make that what the whole election was about. Red people everywhere would not be talking about the war, the economy, social security, the debt, or the environment. They would just be too worried that Barak would make all their wonderful children into drug heads.

    Like it or not, he has to be against decriminalization in order to win. The fact that this sucks does it make less true.

    You are right that this is politics as usual. The sad thing is that I don’t see how could be any other way.

  4. the marquise de sade says:

    Of the three Dem candidates still running, Edwards is the best in most areas, willing to focus attention where it is actually needed. However, this issue of drug decriminalization isn’t his strongest. In fact, aside from the terrorism issue, this is the hardest political area to express a true opinion on without being torn to pieces by the corporatist media machine. He’s supported raids against medical marijuana patients (disgusting) but he also advocates alternatives to incarceration for drug offenders.

    So many people out there are clueless as to why pot was made illegal in the first place – the historical record on this is so ridiculous it can hardly be believed. No drug or stimulant is truly innocuous – anything in excess is dangerous, but until people see the real reasons why pot is illegal nothing will ever be done about it. The fact of the matter is, in the modern corporate paradigm pot is a threat to big pharm and liquor manufacturers – think of the medicinal value pot has, not to mention hemp, in treating certain conditions. What would happen if people relied on home-grown weed to help them through certain illnesses rather than buy expensive prescriptions or over-the-counter remedies? It all boils down to money and control of what we put in our bodies.

    Regardless, I’m very glad to see you speaking out on this. Both Clinton and Obama are worthless as leaders. Though far from perfect at least Edwards can put his money where his mouth is in many cases and has actually made a life defending the little guy.

  5. Thomas Hawk says:

    I didn’t come away from reading his mentioning of his smoking pot in Dreams From My Father as him being in support of having done it. Instead it sounded more like a guilty admission?

    Sneezy, a guilty admission. Yes. Agreed. But I’m still sure he doesn’t think that he deserved to go to jail for it. And I think he would be far worse off today if instead of going away to college he’d went away to prison instead.

    Bottom line is that neither Obama nor our society was hurt by his pot use. And as such he shouldn’t be jailed for it.

    In fact our society is hurt far more by keeping pot illegal. Drug turf wars result in murder and violence.

    Pot is a minor mind altering drug, no different than it’s legal cousin alcohol. It’s the large alcohol and tobacco lobbies that fight it’s decriminalization. The ironic thing is that long term use of both alcohol and tobacco are probably far worse for you physically than long term pot use.

    Being politically expedient (i.e., he must support the war on drugs to beat the Republicans) makes his position no less hypocritical in my mind and he will not be getting my vote.

    Mike Gravel, even as a fringe Democratic candidate, at least has the balls to call this one like it is and support decriminalization.

    Bill Clinton smoked but never inhalled. Barak Obama smoked and in fact inhaled. Over 83 million Americans have tried marijuana at least once. Not a single one of these deserve to go to jail for that offense. This war on drugs is hurting our country.

  6. Gary Denness says:

    I don’t disagree with your view on drugs, but your view on Obamas political stance? Dude, stop following politics right now. Ignore it. Pretend it doesn’t exist. Throw your ballot paper away the moment it comes through the letterbox. There will never, ever be a candidate that doesn’t fit the bill of ‘hypocrite’. Ever. It’s not called hypocrisy. It’s called politics, which is a delicate balancing act of standing up for what you believe in and representing the people.

    We pretty much all know, I imagine, that Obama can’t speak out pro drugs, whatever the drug. He’ll lose. So why even stand as president?

    What you are effectively saying is that no person who has ever smoked pot should be president. Have you looked at it from that point of view, because that is what you’ll get if you insist that former users speak in favour.

    Personally I think it would be best to have a former pot smoker, who sensibly plays his cards close to his chest for political reasons, end up in the White House. He’s far less likely to widen the war on pot..

  7. kirkk says:

    While I agree with your post in theory… the fact is that nobody is going to get nominated/elected in this country running with a pro-legalization platform. If you’re not voting for Obama because of this stance please tell us which candidate, with a legitimate chance of being nominated, does support legalization because I don’t know of any who do.

  8. I will split hairs with you on one more point. I doubt many people go to jail for Pot USE.

    It’s intent to distribute, growing mass quantity’s and such that gets jail time, if at all.

    Those are TWO very different things.

  9. Sean says:

    Now, just because he doesn’t support decriminalization doesn’t mean he’s a hypocrite. Perhaps his reasons for not supporting decriminalization don’t have anything to do with his experience with the stuff.

  10. tinou says:

    Please get your facts straight. No body goes to prison for using pot. People go to prison for selling pot or possessing a crap load of pot, not for use.

    He is no more a hypocrite than someone who regrets drinking beer as a teenager.

    Are you saying if you drink beer as a teenager then you have to support lowering the drinking age?

    You make (as usual) no sense TH.

    Huckabee 2008!!!

  11. refriedwhiskey says:

    You’ve made the fairly common mistake of assuming you know what someone secretly believes, then accusing him of hypocrisy by acting counter to those beliefs.

    The fact that Obama admits to using weed as a kid doesn’t automatically mean he believes it should be decriminalized. Maybe he sincerely believes what he says: That his marijuana use was a mistake and that marijuana should not be decriminalized.

    You might disagree with that stance. I disagree with it. But I also understand that the simple fact that I disagree with Obama does not make him a hypocrite.

  12. Eric in SF says:

    tinou – in places like Alabama, mere possession of recreational amounts of pot can lead to multi-year prison sentences.

    The flyover states still have a strong puritanican streak, folks.

  13. Thomas Hawk says:

    You’ve made the fairly common mistake of assuming you know what someone secretly believes, then accusing him of hypocrisy by acting counter to those beliefs.

    refriedwhiskey, so do you honestly believe that Obama deep on the inside thinks that both he and society would be better off today had he served time in prison instead of going to college?

    Please get your facts straight. No body goes to prison for using pot.

    Tinou, I think you are the one that should get your facts straight. 19.3% of “third strikes” are drug crimes. If you already have two strikes and are caught simply possessing marijuana you can go to jail for a very long time.

    And there certainly are other cases as well. Take the case of Jonathan Magbie, a 27 year old quadriplegic, who *died* yes *died* in jail while serving a marijuana possession charge. Marijuana that he used medicinally. Do you think Jonathan Magbie is better off for going to prison. Was this quadriplegic a threat to anyone? Are we better off as a society now that Magbie is no longer with us?

    While I agree with your post in theory… the fact is that nobody is going to get nominated/elected in this country running with a pro-legalization platform.

    Kirkk, it is this kind of thinking about politics that makes me the most sick of all. So if in another time nobody was going to get elected in this country running on a platform to abolish slavery, would that make it ok to be pro slavery? What about doing the right thing? How about if you’d never get elected if you promised women the right to vote? Does George Wallace get a pass on his pro segregation stance simply because he could not have been elected governor of Alabama without it?

    I will split hairs with you on one more point. I doubt many people go to jail for Pot USE.

    It’s intent to distribute, growing mass quantity’s and such that gets jail time, if at all.

    another half thought. Those that distribute and grow marijuana deserve jail time no more than those that use it. In 2006, Patrick T. Stokes, Anheuser Busch’s CEO raked in $6,536,687 in total compensation according to the SEC. Why is it that he should be able to rake in $6.5 million while those that would grow and sell a similar mind altering substance, in fact, probably a less harmful mind altering substance, get prison time?

  14. Anonymous says:

    “marijuana is no worse for people than alcohol”

    It’s not like alcohol is that good for your liver anyway.

    I know of a couple of people who have been smoking semi-regularly for a couple of years (they aren’t even 25) and it does affect them, their thinking is slower and their hair becomes dry and thin 😛

    In any case, pot has been linked with alzheirmer (though not fully proved).

    Being in europe I’d rather our healthcare weren’t burdened by people who go out and purposefully put crap in their bodies.

  15. Dave! says:

    I agree with you on the legalization issue… however, I don’t have much respect for single issue voters. Hypocrisy on this issue isn’t a moral shortcoming, it’s being politically astute.

    Is there any candidate who meets your requirements? Hasn’t adopted at least one “middle of the road” stance on one issue? Or who hasn’t done one thing and said another on some issue?

    If so, tell us who they are, please. I have no illusions that Obama is perfect. He’s not. But on most of the issues that matter most to me, he’s the closest out there now.

  16. severoon says:

    Actually, I think you got it a little wrong. Just because he did something in his past that he doesn’t currently support doesn’t make him a hypocrite. If he were currently a private pot smoker and believed it should be legalized for everyone—as opposed to a personal vice he recognizes as detrimental but doesn’t have the willpower to stop—then to say otherwise would be hypocritical. As it is, he’s just a guy that smoked pot in the past, now recognizes that he wasn’t thinking, and says it’s bad.

    So the question is, is he saying what he really thinks wrt this decriminalization issue? Who knows for certain? You don’t, so you can’t rightly accuse him of hypocrisy. On the other hand, we know Clinton is spinning his words out of context.

    So I don’t really see any validity to your claim of hypocrisy here. (Not that I support Obama, but I’m trying to do my part to elevate the dialog wherever I see it, whoever it happens to benefit.)

  17. opuntia says:

    Wow Thomas, what a statement. I’m with you about decriminalizing pot use, but if that’s going to be your “litmus” test for a presidential candidate, then you’ll never see “your” presidential candidate win in your lifetime. I really think that time will come…but in baby steps, and Obama is a great first step.

    It’s like my in-laws in 2004 who hated Bush and liked Kerry, but voted for Bush anyway because of his stance on abortion and stem-cell. There are bigger fish to fry.

    BTW, can you please provide a link that supports your statement that, “he’d (Obama) rather continue locking up people for minor marijuana offenses than to decriminalize it and have it sold (and taxed) legally down at the local liquor store.” Maybe Obama would only want to lock up dealers and make pot use a civil offense. Do you know, because I don’t?

    Here’s a link to a youtube video where obama is even open to medical use of marijuana (though under tight controls) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejErbwiDBaA

    I have to say when it comes to crime control and politics…well, let’s just say I like your pictures.

  18. Thomas Hawk says:

    Is there any candidate who meets your requirements? Hasn’t adopted at least one “middle of the road” stance on one issue? Or who hasn’t done one thing and said another on some issue?

    Dave, I’ll be voting for Mike Gravel. He to me has been the most honest candid candidate out there. I haven’t seen much hypocrisy or lying coming out of him.

    How come no one has asked Obama the question, “do you think you and society would be better off had you gone to jail for your marijuana use, and if not, why should others?”

    I’m certainly not a single issue voter. I simply can’t stand hypocrisy when I see it and even if it’s politically expedient for Obama it doesn’t make it right.

  19. Thomas Hawk says:

    I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl. You might just be bored, or alone. Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection. And if the high didn’t solve whatever it was that was getting you down, it could at least help you laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism.

    Barak Obama, 1995.

  20. Thomas Hawk says:

    Barak’s opposition to decriminalization today = hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism.

  21. tinou says:

    Thomas Hawk,

    Jonathan Magbie got sent to jail for 10 days. You make it sound like he was sent to hardcore, max-security jail for years. Even Britney Spears did some time in jail. Jack Baeur did 45 days in jail for DUI.

    The “third strikes” thing is such a red herring.

    The bottom line is, you are being DISINGENUOUS. No average Joe who smokes a joint in his house is being sent to San Quentin for 10 years.

    FWIW, I agree that drugs should be legalized.
    But you are just being retarded here. You’re trying to paint a picture that people’s lives are totally destroyed by smoking one joint. That just doesn’t happen.

  22. tinou says:

    You never answered the question about under aged drinking. If as a teenager you drank beer but today you still think the drinking age should be 21, are you a hypocrite?

    TH, do you support lowering the drinking age to 15? I’m sure you drank as a teenager/before you were 21. If you don’t support lowering the drinking age you’re a hypocrite!

  23. refriedwhiskey says:

    refriedwhiskey, so do you honestly believe that Obama deep on the inside thinks that both he and society would be better off today had he served time in prison instead of going to college?
    Come on, Thomas, that’s more than a little ridiculous.

    First off, as several people have pointed out, no one goes to prison for smoking pot.

    Second, since when does prison time disqualify one for college? You never went to school with anyone who’d been arrested for possession? For a guy who believes in decriminalizing weed, you’re pretty sheltered.

    Third, has Obama ever said society would be better off if kids who experiment with weed went to prison? If he had, your charges of hypocrisy would begin to have some chance at finding a footing (although it would still be based on the sandy foundation of your assumption that he doesn’t sincerely regret having used weed when he was a kid). But to the best of my knowledge, he hasn’t said that.

    Again: Using weed as a kid doesn’t mean you absolutely must believe as an adult that it should be decriminalized. And believing marijuana shouldn’t be decriminalized doesn’t mean you absolutely must believe any kid who smokes weed should go to prison and be barred from college.

    You’re getting increasingly hyperbolic and melodramatic in your attempts to defend your position. That’s usually a sign that you should’ve simply admitted your assertion is founded on reasoning too flawed to be reasonably defended.

  24. Thomas Hawk says:

    Jonathan Magbie got sent to jail for 10 days. You make it sound like he was sent to hardcore, max-security jail for years. Even Britney Spears did some time in jail. Jack Baeur did 45 days in jail for DUI.

    Tinou, when you get a DUI you are threatening others. When you are simply smoking pot in your own home you are threatening no one.

    It doesn’t matter that he was only sent to jail for 10 days. He shouldn’t have been sent to jail at all. He *died* in jail! He’s dead now. Maybe if he hadn’t been sent to jail he would still be alive today.

    The point is that smoking marijuana is no more harmful to you or society than consuming alcohol. And yet for one people go to jail while for the other they don’t. That’s hypocrisy in and of itself. I can understand this hypocrisy if it was coming from someone who simply feared pot and had never smoked it. But I’d expect more out of someone who once wrote that pot could, “at least help you laugh at the world’s ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism.”

    Hardly something that anyone should be doing any jail time for at all.

  25. Thomas Hawk says:

    My own opinion is that Barak Obama by not supporting decriminilization of marijuana is rationalizing this on the basis of political expediency.

    This was the same sort of rationalization used by George Wallace when he turned from someone who opposed the KKK and was at least moderate enough to win an endorsement from the NAACP when he first ran for governor in the state of Alabama into a hardcore bigot and pro seggregationist. Wallace knew that he had to hold the morally wrong position for political expediency. That is never justification. My opinion is that Obama knows this too.

    The war on drugs is devastating the black community in America. Drug dealers are routinely shot here in Oakland over turf wars — while the CEO of Anheuser Busch lives in some big house somewhere making $6.5 million in pay.

    I believe that Obama knows this intellectually (he’s a smart guy) but rather than choose to support the right thing decriminalization, he instead does not support it. He’s no better in my mind than George Wallace was, who would not have gotten my vote either.

  26. the marquise de sade says:

    Wow Thomas you have a lot of ignorant people posting here.

    The fact of the matter is people DO get sent to jail for pot. Whether its for 30 days or 30 years, every state is different and has different levels of penalties for marijuana (and posession of paraphernalia) and when you get arrested it becomes public record. Do you know what that means? Anytime a background check is done against your name this information will come up. And even if the person is sent to jail for “only” a month do you really think that is just a walk in the park? Have you seen the people that inhabit prisons these days? I personally know people who have done some time in jail for very minor offenses and others who had their drivers licenses revoked (rendering them unable to get to work to earn a living) and severe penalties levied against them.

    Here’s a link (albeit a bit outdated) that outlines the various penalties in different states. Also, keep in mind that if someone tips off the DEA that you’ve got other narcotics and they’re able to search your house and only find pot they WILL arrest you for it and you will most likely receive up to a year in prison. The default sentence on a federal level for any marijuana posession is 0-1 years in jail, and a $2500 fine, and that is for a first time offender!

    FEDERAL
    Possession
    Any amount: 0-1; $2,500
    Cultivation/Delivery/Sale
    <100kg:0-20; $1 million
    >=100kg:5-40; $2 million
    >=1000kg:10-life; $4 million

    http://www.erowid.org/plants/cannabis/cannabis_faq_laws.shtml

  27. Karoli says:

    Thomas,

    Honestly, of all the issues out there on the table today the one that worries me the least is whether pot is legalized or not. Looking at the bigger picture — the much bigger picture — the Democrats need a candidate who can re-energize the electorate and get us out of god-forsaken Iraq while preserving what shreds of credibility we have on the world stage.

    Taking a hardline stance on an issue like legalizing pot is a formula for political disaster — it’s like making the policy for gays in the military the very first issue one tackles, which was Bill Clinton’s mistake.

    You won’t find any politician willing to take that up as a first-line issue — it’s too much of a hot potato.

    Besides, it’s really a states-rights issue, not a federal government issue. The GOP has injected the feds in an area that just shouldn’t belong to them, and the best thing a democrat could do is hand it back to the states and let them deal with it state-by-state.

    Now whether you choose Obama or Hillary or Edwards or whoever is, of course, entirely up to you, but I hope you do it on a basis that is more expansive than whether they’re willing to take a stand on legalizing pot.

  28. Karoli says:

    PS: His name is spelled BARACK , not Barak. Just a courtesy thing that bugs me when I see it…probably because my name is so weird.

  29. Bob says:

    Jonathan Magbie was not jailed for smoking a joint in his home. Magbie not only possessed marijuana, but also cocaine and a loaded handgun.

    I think it is disingenuous to state that folks shouldn’t go to jail for smoking a joint in their own home and then point to Magbie. He does not support that premise, despite his tragedy.

    Can you document anyone who is in jail for merely smoking a joint in his own home?

  30. Dale says:

    Thomas,

    You really should stick to photography and pimpin’ Scoble.

  31. the marquise de sade says:

    To Bob, I’m wondering whether you’ve just dropped some acid because you didn’t seem to get the context in the link you provided.

    “D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith E. Retchin defied a presentencing recommendation that Magbie be given a term of probation — a sentence that even the prosecutor found acceptable.

    Retchin imposed the sentence because she didn’t like Magbie’s attitude, and the car in which Magbie was riding when apprehended had a loaded gun and cocaine. Magbie had told Retchin that marijuana made him feel better and that he didn’t think there was anything wrong with using it.”

    So the guy is a quadraplegic, meaning he can’t use his arms and legs. So clearly the car wasn’t his and someone else was driving. He wasn’t charged with cocaine or handgun posession. So, as a victim of circumstance he’s held accountable for the fact that someone else had coke and a loaded handgun in the car. And the fact that the judge “didn’t like his attitude” shows just how much people are at the mercy of the judicial/legal system.

    Back to Barack or whatever his name is – the corporate candidates are a joke. They’re all pretty much the same with no real morals or character, you pretty much have to give that up in order to ever get that far in politics. And of course Gravel will never win. But thanks Thomas for speaking up a bit on politics, as you can see you’ve opened up a can of worms here. Keep it up.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Pot smoking is linked to low ambition , under-achievement, listening to the Grateful Dead, and surfing. At least in some of the people I went to high school with.

  33. Bob says:

    He wasn’t sitting at home in his living room smoking a joint. That is the point. I do not dispute that he shouldn’t have died.

    Thomas stated folks shouldn’t be arrested for smoking a joint in their living room. Magbie wasn’t in his living room smoking a joint. He was in public in a vehicle that had more than a joint in it. It is not the benign situation it was purported to be.

    I’ll ask again, can you document someone who is in jail for smoking a joint in his living room?

  34. Thomas Hawk says:

    Pot smoking is linked to low ambition , under-achievement, listening to the Grateful Dead, and surfing. At least in some of the people I went to high school with.

    Anonymous. I’ve known many successful accomplished individuals who smoke pot regularly. This is the type of sterotype that the anti-pot lobby would like you to believe.

    Taking a hardline stance on an issue like legalizing pot is a formula for political disaster — it’s like making the policy for gays in the military the very first issue one tackles, which was Bill Clinton’s mistake.

    Karoli, I disagree. Because I think that this hypocrisy points to his character. I don’t believe that in order to be elected or efficient that a politician must make a series of deals with the devil and avoid real hot potato issues.

    Gays should be allowed to serve in the military. Gays are no less capable, human, or patriotic than anyone else. This issue absolutely should be on the table.

    What I want to see is a candidate who speaks the truth. Who does not lie like the Clintons do or espouse hypocrisy like Obama does.

    Lets say you were living in Alabama in the 1950s. Would it have been ok for your Democratic candidate to endorse segregation simply because it was the politically expedient thing necessary to win. Because you know what George Wallace (a Democrat) said to his finance manager after he lost his first run for governor? He said, ‘Seymore, do you know why I lost that governor’s race?’ and Seymore said, ‘I’m not sure, Judge. What do you think?’ He said, ‘Seymore, I was out-niggered by John Patterson. And I’ll tell you here and now, I will never be out-niggered again.'”

    And so George Wallace came out at his next run for Governor as a staunch segregationist and a bigot and he won. So if what it takes to win as a Democrat in Alabama in the 50s is to be a bigot, does that make this ok?

    Even though Wallace later repudiated his segregationist stance this doesn’t make it right that he advocated segregation and bigotry to get elected. The ends don’t justify the means. Just like it’s not ok for the Clintons to lie, it’s not ok for Barack to support the continued criminalization of pot.

    What I don’t want is politics as usual. I want someone who speaks the truth even if it’s not popular. Yes there certainly is more than just this issue. I would never vote for a President based on a single issue. But the electable lesser of two evils is still not a good enough choice for me. There are better alternatives. In addition to stating that marijuana ought to be legal, taxed, and sold down at the local liquor store, Democratic Presidential Candidate and former Alaskan Senator Mike Gravel, like Obama, also wants our troops out of Iraq and if you have Democratic leanings I’d bet that a lot of the other things Mike Gravel supports make sense as well. And that’s where my vote will go in the primaries — because I hate hypocrisy and find it refreshing when a politician breaks from political expediency and tells me the truth.

  35. Thomas Hawk says:

    Besides, it’s really a states-rights issue, not a federal government issue.

    Karoli, yes, one more thing. This is *exactly* why the Federal criminalization of marijuana ought to be repealed. Even though forward thinking towns, cities and states pass various initiatives softening the crime of marijuana possession (as they ought to be able to do) the fact remains that regardless of what a city or state passes the Federal law that says anyone caught with any amount of marijuana can go to jail for up to year (yes even one joint) supersedes city and state regulations. If someone really believes in states rights on this matter, all the more reason to support the Federal decriminalization of the drug. As it stands now, even though medicinal marijuana use and sale is legal in California — as passed by the voters, medicinal marijuana clubs are still routinely raided by the Feds. This too is not right.

  36. Thomas Hawk says:

    Oh and sorry for misspelling his name earlier.

  37. Just the Facts says:

    Since Obama *didn’t* yes *didn’t* go to jail for his weed smoking, I think your “straw man” argument about him being a hypocrite is fallacious. Decriminalization wouldn’t have helped him since he didn’t go to jail. Many people smoke it every day without going to jail. Once more, Jail is not a given for smoking dope.

    I think maybe you should cut back until the primary. Gravel’s going to need your help.

    The bigger issue regarding the quad who died in jail is how did he get money to buy weed? And how did he smoke it without using his arms or legs?

  38. casper says:

    TH do you smoke pot? I’m not talking back as a teenager… now as a responsible adult (not for ‘medicinal reasons either’).

    It seems that there are a few things you really like to go on and on about and pot legalization is on that list.

    One would have to assume that someone that feels the need to rant on and on about this topic is a user themselves. So thats why I ask… because we all know what assuming can do…

    Legalization as we all know can be a slippery slope… but IMHO it is not an answer to some of society’s ills as you make it seem. It is a much deeper issue than that. We all want to see a better society for everyone, but the solution to these issues are at the soul level. It seems a majority of pot users consume it for the high and escape from reality not medicine. For that majority, I think its a deeper issue as to a hole in their life they are trying to fill with drugs like some do with alcohol, material things, you name it. We all are guilty of it in some fashion just different vices. The point is instead of legalizing how about helping people in much deeper ways. In turn, they don’t need to look to pot or whatever vice for an escape or high and have a better life because of it. I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this but thats ok…

    I may not agree with you on this subject TH, but I still look forward to viewing your awesome photography. Keep up the great work.

  39. Mark says:

    casper: Why would you assume that someone who is pro legalization of marijuhana a user? Would you also say that only a woman can be pro women’s rights? That only a black person can be against slavery? You seem to assume that people care only for their own freedoms.

    For the record: I am very much for the legalization of marijuhana and I’ve never smoked (cigarettes or weed) and don’t intend to. Hell, I’ve never been drunk in my whole life and I’m 32!

  40. Anonymous says:

    I’ve known many successful accomplished individuals who smoke pot regularly. This is the type of sterotype that the anti-pot lobby would like you to believe.

    This is the type of stereotype that I’ve observed. Your mileage may vary.

    Just saying.

  41. Thomas Hawk says:

    TH do you smoke pot? I’m not talking back as a teenager… now as a responsible adult (not for ‘medicinal reasons either’).

    Casper, would you ask a woman who supported abortion rights if she’s had one?

    The question is entirely irrelevant to the debate. One does not have to be pot user to support legalization. I’m not going to answer it.

    Last year in Oakland there were 126 homicides in the City. 126 homicides. Most of them black. Most of them involving the illegal drug trade. Turf wars.

    Marijuana as a drug is no worse for people than alcohol or tobacco. In fact, I’ve read studies that say that when high on pot people drive their cars better than when drunk on alcohol. I’m not advocating anyone drive while stoned or drunk for sure. I’m just saying that the drug’s effect on society is certainly no worse than alcohol.

    Personally I’d like to take this drug away from the drug dealers that sell it on the streets of Oakland. I’d like to remove one more economic product for them to sell. I don’t think we as a society would be any worse. I’d also like to see it taxed like alcohol is and use the money raised combined with the money saved from prosecuting marijuana cases put in other places where it really can make a difference.

    If alcohol were illegal and pot was legal and drug dealers were selling vodka by the truckloads, I’d probably be just as pro alcohol legalization as I am marijuana.

    People will use mind altering substances whether legal or not. Why squander our economic resources wasting it on arresting the marijuana trade and fueling cash to the illegal drug economy that is responsible for so much violence in places like Oakland? Legalize it. Take the economic incentive out of it for drug dealers and raise a hell of a lot of money to do a lot more good.

    Think about it. Who doesn’t want marijuana legalized and who is funding the PR war behind keeping it illegal. Which Anheuser Busch CEO made $6.5 million in personal compensation in 2006?

  42. the marquise de sade says:

    Oh man here we go with the puritanical BS, but first Thomas you were up rather late, or early, its hard to tell.

    “Legalization as we all know can be a slippery slope… but IMHO it is not an answer to some of society’s ills as you make it seem. It is a much deeper issue than that. We all want to see a better society for everyone, but the solution to these issues are at the soul level. It seems a majority of pot users consume it for the high and escape from reality not medicine. For that majority, I think its a deeper issue as to a hole in their life they are trying to fill with drugs like some do with alcohol, material things, you name it. We all are guilty of it in some fashion just different vices. The point is instead of legalizing how about helping people in much deeper ways. In turn, they don’t need to look to pot or whatever vice for an escape or high and have a better life because of it. I’m sure I’ll get flamed for this but thats ok… “

    Ok, so who among us doesn’t have a way to “escape” reality? And who are you to say that is a bad thing? I have news for you, there are many things besides pot that are much more effectively used as an escape from reality for the masses, and now I shall list them out for you:

    1) Religion
    2) Sports
    3) Television
    4) Consumerism/Shopping
    5) Sex and Sexual Compulsions

    Shall I go on? I’d wager you participate in at least three of these reality-bending activities. In my opinion, organized religion and sports are as much an escape from reality and are just as damaging to the future of humankind (if not moreso) than any drug. Think we’re going to see these things regulated? No. Hell, at least with pot you actually think about things instead of mindlessly listening to a minister or the announcer at a sporting event.

    I used to be a skydiver. During my prep time and time in the air I thought about nothing in “reality”, all I thought about was those moments of freedom when it was just me and nature and physics at 120mph. It was my escape. I forgot about the “realities” of war, death, corruption, destruction and all the evil things “reality” has to offer. Pot is much the same. Who are you to tell me how to conduct my life, what to do and what to put into my body? A corollary to this are strip clubs – as a feminist I find them highly distateful and really kinda gross, everyone involved (customers proprietors and dancers) seem to be exploiting somebody, but I’m not advocating that they be shut down or made illegal.

    Rant over….

  43. Bob says:

    If you already have two strikes and are caught simply possessing marijuana you can go to jail for a very long time.

    Marijuana possession is not a felony in most jurisdictions (including California) and therefore not a third strike.

  44. A thought provoking post Thomas – thanks for having the courage to express a view that clearly was never going to go down well with everybody. The concept of having to say certain things in order to get elected is obviously an old one (and seems to apply to a belief in god as much as marijuana use), but, as you indicate, just because it is the convention doesn’t make it right. It is a shame that the internet hasn’t wrought as much change in the old media (tv and newspapers in particular) as had been hoped, I think, and a few powerful individuals and conglomerates still dictate the political agenda in the developed world on issues such as this. However, at least the debate continues.

  45. Shawn Oster says:

    Nothing like a bit of chumming the political waters 🙂

    I applaud your idealogical stance on politics, I hope someday there is actually someone running that you can vote for that’s not a hyprocrite. The sad fact is that everyone, every single person, including our founding fathers, including yourself, including me, are hyprocrits.

    Me, I’d rather vote for a slightly hyprocrtical Obama or Clinton whose stance I basically agree with rather than a non-hyprocrit who I completely disagree with such as Huckabee or McCain.

  46. Anonymous says:

    With everything going on in the world, this is really your issue?

    Anyway, while I’m unable to load the Washington Times story, I understand that now, Obama *does* support the decriminalization of pot.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Not that what I am about to say is solid fact, but let’s face it…if Obama came out and SAID “I support decriminalization of marijuana…” and it was down to himself and…let’s say McCain…For all the people in the US that DON’T SMOKE, and for all of those who think all the terrible things about marijuana due to those anti-drug commericals, those people would feel compelled to vote for the other party, or rather, not vote at all. Obama has made statements before about marijuana use, and that he does not think it should be a crime that lands a person in jail…and although hypocritical, you have to understand that he is trying to win here…win the vote from potheads, from anti-drug frumps in the midwest…everyone. Sooo let him say what he will, but I am pretty sure that he agrees with the rest of us tokers…THERE SHOULDN’T BE A SINGLE MARIJUANA SMOKER SITTING IN PRISION RIGHT NOW…OR EVER. 🙂

  48. Jimmy says:

    There is absolutely nothing good about pot use. People use it to get high and as a substitute for character to get them through every kind of circumstance. Instead of developing and strengthening traits of patience, temperence, and other legitimate aspects of what is is to be a strong in spirit person, they get loaded and the circumstance passes. They are weaker for not exercising. Presently they become a withered branch. Fruitless. And because of thier dependency, they are a part of the great evil that is the drug world. All the corruption and crime. The inevitable destruction of their souls. That’s why the bible says that drug abusers are in no way going to inherit the kingdom of Heaven. You don’t believe it? then you are among the lost. The Lord will deliver you from your use. But you must first realize that it is sin and confess it. Don’t rationalize. You must repent or the sin goes with you to the grave and beyond. When you get there you will have everlasting regret. Also, there is a lot more genuine satisfaction in overcoming than in being subject to drug use. It is freedom.