Obama’s YouTube Q&A ignores top-voted marijuana question

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, January 30, 2012 19:08 EDT
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President Barack Obama was not asked a question about marijuana legalization during his “Your Interview With the President” event Monday, despite the fact that it was the most popular one asked.

As part of the White House’s ongoing social media engagement initiatives, Americans were given the chance to submit questions to the president, which others could vote on. Obama answered some of the most popular questions during a virtual interview from the West Wing of the White House, but declined to respond to the most popular video.

That video was submitted by Stephen Downing, a board member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).

“Mr. President, my name is Stephen Downing, and I’m a retired deputy chief of police from the Los Angeles Police Department,” he said in the video. “From my 20 years of experience I have come to see our country’s drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources.”

“According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition,” he continued. “What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?”

Another marijuana legalization question, submitted by NORML, was flagged as “inappropriate” and removed from YouTube.

Obama has offered to answer popular questions via social media on a number of occasions, and those seeking to change the nations drug laws have pounced on the opportunity to bring their issues into the public spotlight.

During a Twitter town hall event, where Obama answered Twitter users’ questions in real-time, the most retweeted question was about the legalization of marijuana. However, the moderator of the event, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, did not present the question to Obama.

But the president did get a chance to answer a question about marijuana legalization during a YouTube Q&A in January 2011. Obama was asked what his plan was to help alleviate the detrimental effects of America’s drug war.

Obama, who has admitted to using illegal drugs in the past, responded by saying that while he was not in favor of outright legalization, he did see room for adjusting the drug war to focus less on incarceration and enforcement, and more on medical treatment and other forms of interdiction.

The position expressed by Obama was largely unchanged from 2009, when he told a community driven Q&A that he did not believe legalizing marijuana was a good strategy to grow the economy.

Google staffers were apparently not inclined to pitch the question to him again in 2012.

The question submitted to President Obama can be viewed below:

Clarification: A previous version of this article said Obama “ignored” a question about marijuana. The White House said it had no influence on which questions were asked.

Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010, and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University. Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on Twitter @ewdolan.
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