By Matthew La Corte
Way back in 2012, when marijuana legalization was much less advanced than today, I was lucky enough to attend a wonderful event put on by the Marijuana Policy Project. I have always viewed marijuana legalization as one of the issues I feel is most important to myself and young people as a whole.
As I stood at this great event, I looked in the eyes of Montel Williams, a medical marijuana user and supporter, as he tearfully spoke about the issue dear to his heart. It hit me, standing in the company of some wonderful medical marijuana supporters, that this issue is one of the most essential issues of our time. Blocking sick people from obtaining necessary medicine is evil, and unfathomably unfair, when rationally considered.
Politicians see themselves as above the law
But when politicians agree they must block sick people from using marijuana as medicine, when so many politicians themselves have used it for mere recreation, it is an entirely different level of low. The level of political hypocrisy on this issue is absolutely infuriating. The political class believes they can do things as young people while maintaining productive lives, but if “regular” people use marijuana they need some sort of correction or law enforcement “help.”
Frankly, the way the federal government supersedes state’s rights in the arena of drug policy should be a national outrage. Most notably, both President Obama and President Trump’s toying with states’ rights and the 10th Amendment has been a callous, degrading use of federal power. But the most unbelievable, infuriating, and insane aspect of the US government’s handling of the medical marijuana issue is their blatant and disrespectful hypocrisy.
The medical marijuana movement is dealing with an aggravating double-edged sword when it comes to current policy. In recent times, there has been a wonderful push for medical marijuana as people come to the realization that drug reform is a safe, sensible, cost-effective, humane, and just policy. It is wonderful that states are changing their laws and some politicians are coming around to these ideas, albeit slowly.
Young people overwhelmingly support the decriminalization of marijuana, and drug policy is increasingly a serious issue on college campuses, with wonderful organizations like Students for Sensible Drug Policy doing excellent work. But, unfortunately, the rise in sensible drug policy supporters has been met in kind by the federal government’s attempts to thwart it.
The unbelievable truth is that President Bush was much more lenient with his marijuana policy than either Trump or Obama. Additionally, members of Congress, many of whom have admitted to using marijuana, still remain firm in their anti-marijuana stance. We must take a long, hard look at ourselves in the societal mirror and ask: are we seriously punishing sick people for using medicine? Are conservatives that willfully blind in their attempts to legislate morality?
Progressives need to call out democrats on their hypocrisy
Are progressives so spineless that they won’t stand up to this particular issue of personal choice? According to a 2020 Gallup poll, 68% of Americans support legalization of marijuana, with no significant age correlation. Yet the “leaders” of the country, the benevolent politicians who head our wonderful government, continue to push their hypocritical stance on marijuana.
George Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Howard Dean, Newt Gingrich, John Kerry, and Sarah Palin have all admitted to marijuana use, yet the conversation has not seen any substantial federal change.
Even now, Vice President Kamala Harris has admitted to previous usage of marijuana, but was curiously exempt from the slew of firings of White House staffers who had admitted to prior drug use.
The issue of federal intervention into states that have passed medical marijuana has rumbled on to the point of absurdity. Let’s paint an image for anyone, but most notably progressives, who fail to understand the significance of drug policy insanity: President Obama intervening in states that passed medical marijuana legislation is exactly the same to President Romney overturning same-sex marriage legislation.
The Obama Administration had zero respect for the decision of voters in these states. Supporters of medical marijuana and drug decriminalization have unfortunately grown accustomed to disappointing presidents who have admitted to previously smoking marijuana, but remain stringent on drug policy. We have all heard the story a million times.
President Obama’s hypocrisy around drugs
But the story of Barack Obama was supposed to be different. President Obama admitted to smoking marijuana and doing cocaine while in college. Moreover, during his senate and presidential run, he openly supported medical marijuana for patients, and agreed the federal government should not intervene with state’s rights regarding marijuana issues.
Unfortunately, this president became the most ardent anti-marijuana president in recent memory. Under Obama, the Department of Justice conducted over 200 DEA raids on medical marijuana businesses in
6 six states. President Bush conducted a mere 70 in eight years. Yet, Bush is supposed to be the conservative.
Obama’s flip-flopping, something usually levelled at his opponent Mitt Romney, would normally just be another tiresome thing politicians do. But the most infuriating part was the Obama campaign continually appealed to the liberal side of America as the “cool” president. He campaigned for the votes of people he ruthlessly prosecuted all across the country.
There is nothing “cool” about this drug policy. It is a national outrage, something so far beyond hypocrisy, and a classless, spineless use of executive power. While President Obama was an absolute disappointment in regards to drug policy, Mitt Romney was no better, albeit offering no conceit about his position.
Marijuana legalization has universal appeal
The issue of medical marijuana should see broad-based support from people of all political ideologies. Not even Christian social conservatives want to see young people erroneously jailed for non-violent acts where they are churned around in the prison system, influenced and hardened by actual criminals, and prevented from acquiring jobs when they get out.
This should be a major issue for all people concerned about the future of our society and the position of the over two million non-violent drug offenders currently sitting in jails.
Similarly, liberals and progressives have simply not been willing to be vocal on the issue of choice when it comes to drugs and politicians’ hypocrisy. If they are such ardent supporters of a woman’s “right” to choose they should not be aghast at any adults ability to choose to take marijuana as medicine.
As the Feds continue their tyrannical raids on medical marijuana facilities, more and more people are becoming aware of the medicine that is medical marijuana. This issue will be won by people supporting liberty and it is essential libertarians fight for total medical marijuana legalization. As young people grow older and assume larger roles in society, and as the older generation arrives at the notion of sensible drug laws, the tide will turn.
This is a winnable fight that has the most noble cause imaginable: helping sick people. This issue will not be solved politically until the anti-marijuana stigma has been broken down, and liberty and legitimate medicine becomes so popular the politicians are forced to abandon their hypocrisy.
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Updated by Joseph Simnett
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions.