What Dr. Bernadine Healy and President Obama don't seem to recognize is that proponents of legalization [of marijuana] believe it will reduce availability to children ["Legalize Marijuana? Obama Was Right to Say No," usnews.com]. I believe because marijuana is illegal, there is no oversight or regulation on sales. Anyone can buy it for anyone and pass it on to anyone else. It can't get much worse with legalization. It's not as if some magic barrier will break and tons of kids will carry lots of marijuana around the average school because that already happens as it is now; unregulated. Think about the possibilities in a regulated marijuana market. Who goes to their shady neighborhood drug dealer (who might also deal cocaine, heroin, and other drugs) when they can buy it cheaper, at a guaranteed rate and weight? Who makes money on the street corner selling marijuana if everyone can get it most likely cheaper, in a clean safe environment?
Comment by Dan Rokker of PA
I think it's reasonably persuasive to argue that children and adolescents should not smoke marijuana, in light of their developing brains. However, that is not an argument for criminalizing adults who choose to smoke it. Modification of our laws would allow authorities to focus, as they do with alcohol, on keeping the substance out of underage hands. Heavy penalties could accompany the sale/distribution of marijuana to minors, as well as driving under the influence. And the stuff could be taxed heavily, taking money from illicit traffickers and giving it to youth antidrug programs. It appears clear that countries that take this approach have lower per-capita marijuana use than ours. After all, what is illicit is often most enticing.
Comment by Darren of SC
To respect science would mean to allow scientists to research medical marijuana further. The "scientific evidence" provided by National Institute on Drug Abuse has been proven to be old and flawed. Newer research has shown the potentials of medical marijuana, and it would be a detriment to science to prohibit access to it for medical use and research. Also, cigarettes are only available to "our kids" once they are 18 years or older. If your kids are accessing cigarettes at a younger age, perhaps your parenting and the laws regulating tobacco should be brought into question.
Comment by Jonathan of NY
It's obviously an issue that many people care about. There are many good common sense reasons for legalization, but the pressures of ignorance and small-minded prejudice seem to have shoved this onto our new president's back burner. I suppose he has to pick his battles, but if he's looking for ways to save money, how about eliminating the costs of enforcement and punishment?
Comment by Teri of CA
The reason that marijuana legalization is the most important issue to Americans is because the system we have in place now is bad for everyone (especially children) except the drug cartels. This article mocks the idea that marijuana might be regulated like cigarettes, but that would be an improvement if the goal is to reduce teen access to marijuana. After all, you need ID to buy cigarettes, but drug dealers on the street don't check ID.
Comment by Will of WA
Partisan Politics Road Block
This country has been fractured along party lines for nearly 16 years and now that the first partisan vote came up, people are saying that Obama's bipartisan message is dead ["Obama's Losing Battle Against Partisanship," usnews.com]. It takes longer than three weeks to cure a long-standing problem. Although the Republicans don't agree with this large stimulus, that is more of their hard line, the fact of the matter is that as the minority party they were included in much larger numbers than any Bush policy. So slow down a bit with hasty decisions and give this administration and both voices of our two-party government the freedom of speech. Just because someone doesn't agree with you doesn't mean either of you are wrong.
Comment by Clay of TX
Maybe if the president had actually spent any real time at his Senate post instead of out campaigning, he would have been aware of the level of animosity between the parties. I hope he is able to modify his approach and learn to be a good leader at a time when we need one.
Comment by Mark of NC
The GOP has its eye on the 2010 elections. They have no incentive to help the president, but to cater to the hard liners of their party. McCain is obviously campaigning for his 2010 seat, as he has suddenly become more of a Republican partisan than a maverick. The GOP will spend the next several years making sure the Democrats don't hit 60. Their alternative plans for the stimulus show the same failed tax-cut, free market policy that got us into this mess to begin with. Obama should by all means continue to include the GOP in the conversation, but the GOP is beginning to sound more and more like the crazy uncle who thinks his neighborhood is infiltrated with commies. They [Republicans] are not doing a good job at the moment of attracting minority and youth voters. Looks to me like they will continue to pin their hopes on Republican voters turning out in higher numbers in the 2010 election than actually doing some outreach to new voters.
Comment by Mia of WI
It's interesting to watch Democrats craft a bill behind closed doors, consistently refusing any Republican input as they tiredly point out "we won the election; you lost," then claim "partisanship" when Republicans refuse to vote for it. And far too many in the media gloss over the reality that Democratic leadership is behaving in intensely partisan ways throughout this whole process. This is not stimulus. It's the same tired old wish list Democrats trot out to shore up their base. Where is all the infrastructure stuff the president campaigned on? The real "partisan" test here is whether or not Democratic leadership will be so partisan that they won't even listen to their own president. He, like most Republicans, is signaling balance and investment, along with speed.
Comment by Glen of RI