There have been a number of events in the past few years where the public has had an opportunity to put forth their views of what should be changed in government and vote in some way to identify the most important ones.
In every case, some form of legalizing marijuana and/or ending the drug war statement has made it to the top (or even all of the top 10).
Turns out, it’s not just Americans…
The highest ranked recommendation to the Trajtenberg Committee, according to the committee’s official website, is that “the legalization of cannabis in Israel is worth over NIS 1 billion ($270 million) a year.”
Of course, in the U.S., when similar results came forward, President Obama decided he didn’t like the answer:
… noting the huge number of questions about marijuana legalization and remarking with a chuckle, â€œI don’t know what that says about the online audience.”
“The answer is no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy,” he said, as the audience in the room applauded and joined him in a laugh.
On the other hand, in Israel, Knesset Member Einat Wilf had an actual coherent response
She argues that “if the Trajtenberg Committee does recommend legalizing cannabis and taxing it accordingly â€“ as many of the readers suggested â€“ it would solve three issues at once: It would have done what’s right from a social perspective â€“ it is clear today following research and on the basis of a recently published international report submitted to the UN that decriminalizing the use of cannabis and making it a social welfare issue yields better results insofar as its use and will limit its harm to society; it would also create another substantial source of income for the government and can be used to implement the committee’s recommendations.
“Furthermore, it would take the money out of the hands of crime families and the enemies of the State. The funds in question are quite substantial and these days, following my request, the Knesset’s research and information center is engaged in the estimation of the figures involved.”
That’s what you do when you ask the public for their concerns and they give them to you.
The U.S. has another opportunity starting today.
The White House has just launched We the People on WhiteHouse.gov, which President Obama says is “giving Americans a direct line to the White House on the issues and concerns that matter most to them.”
The question is whether there is anyone on the other end of that line who is interested in hearing what Americans have to say.
Still, I’m all for creating a petition, and participating in my First Amendment rights and responsibilities.
Seems to me that one petition should essentially be focused on the goal of Barney Frank’s bill HR 2306 Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act. In other words, simply get the federal government out of marijuana and let the states figure it out.
Another one might have to do with having a national discussion about different models of legalization and how they might work to reduce the power of the black market. (and that the head-in-the-sand approaches like “legalization is not in our vocabulary” is unacceptable in a science-based discussion.)
What are your thoughts? (And feel free to use the up and down votes in comments to rank ideas.)