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January 2009
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Voting for the opportunity to be heard

As has been noted in comments, Change.org (not to be confused with Obama’s Change.gov) has moved to the next round of voting. The top 10 ideas will be presented to the administration on January 16 at the National Press Club and will also receive a national advocacy campaign.
Currently, the top two rated ideas are:

Legalize the Medicinal and Recreational Use of Marijuana.
“Marijuana has been proven to relieve the suffering of the chronically ill, as well as disabled patients undergoing chemotherapy, and other forms of medical treatments, yet using it for medical purposes continues to be a crime in most of the country. We should make it legal not only in medical cases, but for recreational use as well.”
– Jose Torres (Unemployed / Disabled / Activist / Supporter), Newark, NJ
End the war on drugs
We have the highest non-violent incarseration rate in the world. We need to free up our police, jails and courts to deal with people who actually pose a clear and present danger to life and liberty. Stop persecuting non-violent drug users. Prefer regulation to prohibition and give up on this “war” that can never be won.
– dan bachelder (realist)

Go over and vote.
Additionally, voting is still open at Obama’s Open for Questions, where a drug policy question leads the National Security category and dominates the Other Issues category.
Now, to be clear, I don’t really hold out much hope that any of these devices will cause Obama to declare an initiative to end the war on drugs, or to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act Schedules (though, of course, he should).
However, having legalization take such a strong position in these polls serves other important interests — it gains mainstream visibility.
It makes people ask questions like:

“What are all these apathetic stoners on Pete’s Couch doing showing up and participating in a political forum? Maybe I was wrong about these ‘legalizers.'”

It gives more media a chance to report on legalization as a political option.
And, most importantly, it could make more of that vast silently complicit population finally wake up and realize: “Hey! Maybe I can talk openly about it.”
Yes, Virginia, legalization is a legitimate political topic that can be discussed.
Russ Belville, over at the NORML stash has crunched some numbers at teh Google and sees a distinct pattern of increased interest in marijuana legalization within the population (or at least the population that has internet access). More signs of progress.

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