Obama Ignores Winning Pot Question

By Tony O'Neill 01/31/12

Obama (and Google) preferred topics like late-night snacks and wedding anniversaries in yesterday's online chat.

Obama: dodging the issue Photo via

As suspected here yesterday, the Your Interview with the President livestream was a letdown for anyone hoping to hear some sense from President Obama on marijuana reform. The question that garnered the second-largest amount of votes—it advocated marijuana legalization, and was posed by a retired police officer—didn't make the cut. Among the pressing national issues that were covered: What late-night snacks the President enjoys, how he celebrates wedding anniversaries, and his tennis schedule. As in previous years, the contest—in which people submit questions for the president, which are then ranked by popularity—drew many questions on the legalization of marijuana and other drugs, which won large numbers of votes. Many of them, however, were mysteriously deleted by the Google-owned YouTube service, after being deemed “inappropriate.” The marijuana question garnered over twice as many votes as the nearest video question and was topped only by a written one about copyright law and the recent file-sharing crackdown.

Why such a popular policy reform question should be deemed inappropriate for this supposed exercise in democracy is a mystery to Stephen Dowling, the retired LAPD officer and Law Enforcement Against Prohibition board member who asked it. He says: "It's worse than silly that YouTube and Google would waste the time of the president and of the American people discussing things like midnight snacks and playing tennis when there is a much more pressing question on the minds of the people who took the time to participate in voting on submissions. A majority of Americans now support legalizing marijuana to de-fund cartels and gangs, lower incarceration and arrest rates and save scarce public resources, all while generating new much-needed tax revenue. The time to discuss this issue is now. We're tired of this serious public policy crisis being pushed aside or laughed off."

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Tony O'Neill, a regular contributor to The Fix, is the author of several novels, including Digging the VeinDown and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. You can follow Tony on Twitter.