Video: Will Obama Answer Marijuana Question Today?

By Tony O'Neill 01/30/12

The winning video question in a White House competition backs legalization. But Obama may still ignore the issue on Your Interview With the President this afternoon.

The ball's in his court. Photo via

Will he or won't he? That's the question on the minds of anti-prohibitionists tuning in to watch President Obama’s yearly “Your Interview with the President,” broadcast today at 5:30 pm EST. A video question [below] advocating marijuana legalization posed by a retired deputy LAPD chief came second in the White House’s competition this year (number one was a write-in about copyright infringement), winning twice as many votes as the closest video question. It 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. 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. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you've delivered in your first term?"

There's no guarantee that the president will choose to answer this question, given his penchant for dodging the marijuana issue. Last year a question from a LEAP activist gathered the most votes overall, leading President Obama to let slip that in his opinion drug legalization is "an entirely legitimate topic for debate." His actions however, done nothing to reflect this. As inert as Obama has been when it comes to drug law reform, he’s still miles ahead of his nearest competitors. With Ron Paul’s White House bid seemingly doomed to failure, and Gary Johnson forced into making a third party run, we're left with the alternatives of of Newt “hang ‘em all” Gingrich or Mitt “drugs are bad” Romney. Stay tuned for the President’s answer today.

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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.