An Open Letter To President Obama
Dear Mr. President
As a person who is a strong advocate for legalization, I was encouraged by your recent comments on our marijuana policy. You noted that alcohol is more harmful than marijuana but then said despite your well-reported frequent use of marijuana as a young man, you remain opposed to legalization.
Your comments on the hypocrisy of drug prohibition were on target. You said “We should not be locking up kids…when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” You are certainly aware of the latest example of this hypocrisy as Congressman Radel of Florida, convicted last year of possessing cocaine in Washington D.C., manages to not only avoid jail time but retains his seat in the House of Representatives. Does anyone honestly believe that had Mr. Radel been unemployed, a carpenter or an auto worker he would have been treated with the same kid gloves?
You also expressed concern that drug laws unfairly impact racial minorities, a concern very much buttressed by arrest statistics. A recent study found nearly 50% of black males arrested by the age of 23. There is clearly racial disparity but the same study found almost 40% of white males also arrested by the age of 23. As you know, the consequences for an arrest have a life-long impact with studies documenting employment, educational, family and even health consequences stemming from arrests.
These numbers for both black and white have frightening implications for the future of our country. While the study did not specify the types of arrests documented, you know as well as I that drug offenses represent the overwhelming majority of these arrests. It is disappointing that you ignore the connection. Are we to continue to same failed policies that brought us to this point? Will the Federal government continue to wage a War on Drugs, ignoring the damage to millions of our citizens, our economy and our communities?
Sir — You campaigned on a platform promising change. Our failed drug policy represents an opportunity to keep that promise. The majority of Americans will applaud the change.
Captain Howard Rahtz (Ret)
A note to my readers — Do you think President Obama will actually read this blog? I’d say the odds are about the same as for me winning the lottery — especially when I never buy a ticket! But it does make a important point. The blatant hypocrisy of drug laws is galling. Obama finds himself in a lot of political company when he lectures everyone to do as he says, not as he does.
Anyway, have to go. There’s a knock on the door, some guy from the NSA who wants to speak to me.