Tonight: Should Marijuana Be Legalized?Obama has already said, on numerous occasions, that he would not legalize marijuana. That's what he said during the campaign, that's what he's still saying now. Early indications suggested that he would honor his campaign promise to end federal raids on medical marijuana clinics that abide by state laws, but the recent raid on Emmalyn's California Cannabis Clinic calls even that policy into question.
Will President Obama make history and legalize the use of marijuana? Not if opponents can help it! Montel Williams, Stephen Baldwin and other debate the issue!
I'm not saying that Obama shouldn't legalize marijuana (he should), or even that anti-prohibition groups shouldn't be demanding that he do just that (that's their job). But expecting Barack Obama to legalize marijuana where Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton did not, and during his first 100 days in office no less, just isn't realistic--and encouraging activists to expect this will only lead to disappointment and burnout. A more realistic expectation is that he'll at least follow his campaign promise to end raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, which is why the recent California raid should be getting more press right now.
That said, I'm heartened--and everybody who believes in the democratic process should also be heartened--by how visible the pro-legalization movement has become. And there are indications, such as Rep. Loretta Sanchez' proposed bill to legalize marijuana in California, that the legalization movement is finally gaining steam. But there aren't likely to be any shortcuts. Until the Obama administration has made a clear and unambiguous commitment to ceding medical marijuana decisions to the states, and until that policy has been enshrined in the federal code so that it won't be reversed with the next Republican president, expecting an abrupt end to all federal marijuana prohibition just isn't realistic.
See also: Why is Marijuana Illegal?