President Barack Obama has the distinct pleasure of being the only president with a strain of weed named after him—Obama Kush—not counting the Nixon tribute Tricky Dick, which was awarded ironically anyway. But it’s true that President Obama has been fairly progressive for marijuana rights. Or has he?
Let’s look at the facts. In the beginning, the Obama administration outspent President Bush by $100 million on cracking down on medical marijuana states. That totaled $300 million, used to send SWAT teams to cannabis dispensaries, kick down the doors, arrest caregivers and seize any and all cash and herb.
During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised that DEA-targeted raids such as this would not be a priority in his administration. He lied. In 2011, Obama’s Department of Justice announced that keeping medicinal pot out of the hands of patients was a top priority for the DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
It wasn’t until Colorado finally legalized cannabis in 2012—suffering a few raids along the way—that the Obama administration finally backed off. Even so, many remember Obama as being cool with weed.
President Obama Calls For Marijuana To Be Regulated Like Alcohol and Tobacco
President Barack Obama only has a few weeks left in his administration, but in these final months, he’s been focusing on pretty much one thing: legacy building. He’s focused on how he will be remembered as a president, which is why he’s scheduled historic trips to Hiroshima and mended ties with Cuba. He also wants to be seen as being soft, or at the very least progressive, on cannabis.
“I don’t think [pot] is more dangerous than alcohol,” the President once told the New Yorker. Most recently, Obama told Rolling Stone that marijuana should be regulated like alcohol and tobacco, going so far as to say the DEA’s enforcement of marijuana laws is ‘untenable.’
If that’s true, why didn’t Obama do anything about it when he was president? He said he couldn’t, which wasn’t true, and passed the buck to Congress. Instead, in January of 2016, he said marijuana reform was ‘not on his list of end-of-term priorities,’ as The Washington Post put it. Yes, Obama commuted the sentences of more than 1,000 prisoners, but otherwise, has he really helped marijuana freedom all that much? Does Obama really like pot?