Obama: 4/20 Frenemy

Weed is more popular than our president. Sorry, Barack, but more people like the ganja than they like you. A few years ago, Obama seemed to understand this, he knew that America was increasingly 4/20 friendly and acted in favor of medical marijuana. At the start of the Obama administration in 2009, the president announced that they would no longer support the raiding of medical marijuana dispensaries and vowed to limit the amount of prosecutions against users within the compliance of state law.


Fast forward to 2011: according to CBS the percentage of Americans in favor of allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana stood at 77 percent while the president’s approval rating rested at 43 percent. In that same year, Obama began to rescind his previous attitude towards marijuana. Under his Justice Department, Obama approved the increase of threats and prosecutions against marijuana users, even if they are acting within state law.


These anti-weed sentiments continued with the hike of IRS dispensary crackdowns and the president’s most recent comments on the subject. A few weeks ago, Obama was interviewed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and claimed that marijuana wouldn’t be legalized anytime soon, and made it clear that he wasn’t going to be easy on large-scale producers.


All of a sudden, Barack Obama is the president that has been most opposed to medical marijuana practices in the history of our nation.


In all seriousness, this change is a little odd. I find it hard to believe that the president does not respect the rights of medical marijuana users, while supporting other issues that are far less popular.


Once again, the public favors pot more than the Obama, so it’s not like he’s siding with the majority. Also, if he’s trying to seem more moderate for the election he isn’t doing a very good job of it, so why would he try to seem more conservative when it comes to the cannabis controversy?


Over the last four years we have seen the evolution of the president’s opinions on hot button issues, just a few days ago he spoke out in favor of gay marriage — something he did not have the bravery to do a few years ago.  Regardless of his progression towards more liberal ideals, he turned his back and took a few steps further in the right wing direction on this issue of marijuana.  Believe it or not, G-Dub allowed for looser medical marijuana restrictions than Obama did.


I don’t think anyone expected the president to furiously support the legalization of marijuana, but the least he could have done for cannabis users is let them operate under state law without vigorous persecution from the attorney general and IRS.

Let’s face the facts; recreational marijuana use will probably not be legalized for at least a few years. It’s sad, but true. However, that doesn’t mean we need to roll back the papers on marijuana even further.

The people are OK with cannabis cures, and the president should be too. No need to scowl at patients that are puff-puff passing to remedy their pains and troubles — so long as they’ve got a card. Lighten up, Barack, one day you’ll be as popular as pot.



Sarah Menendez is a first-year political science and literary journalism double major. She can be reached at smenende@uci.edu.