I'm peeved. I was one of the some 67000 people who watched (some) of the President's online town hall responding to citizen questions last Thursday. I'd even submitted some questions, not that I thought they'd come up. It is obvious that this question process privileges the first 10 questions asked, so long as those are broadly about genuine popular concerns.
And I thought the President did very well what he does best: show he's informed, thoughtful, articulate and smart. You know, the opposite of the last resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
So why am I peeved? Because media coverage of the event has been mostly about Obama's slick put down of the pot people. Here's a specimen from Salon:
Very cute reporting. Some such scores are a little too easy, so I'm peeved at both reporter and President.
I'm also peeved at the supporters of marijuana legalization for voting questions up in nearly every category in a forum supposed to be about our crashing economy. I can hardly fault them for being organized, but can I ask them to have a little sense of proportion? Apparently not. This is exactly how I've seen them act in community organizations as well, as the most singled-minded among single-issue campaigners.
And they've won -- I feel forced to ask myself, do I want to see marijuana legalized? This is a question I've hardly thought about in the last 30 years. Like any normal person of my generation I smoked for a few years -- like most, I also eventually stopped and got on with life. Nothing very terrible, nor anything very wonderful, came of my exposure to pot.
Recently a politician I respect, and count as a friend, proposed that California legalize and tax marijuana to help the state's ailing budget. Assemblyman Tom Ammiano is no dummy and he's a truthteller: grass is after all the state's largest cash agricultural crop. Why should the drug dealers get all the profits?
And there is real harm that comes of keeping marijuana illegal -- see for example this horror story. Even some drug court judges have decided that prohibition is corrosive of law enforcement.
So when I think about it, I find myself saying "yes, let's make pot legal -- nothing too terrible will happen. Heck, alcohol and tobacco cause more trouble."
I suspect that readers of this blog are probably much like me -- not folks who think often about legalization. So what DO you think, if you think about it?
Update: Mark Kleiman makes the case that marijuana is NOT California's biggest crop and I'm willing to believe him. I'm not sure that changes the discussion.