Thursday, January 27, 2011

Responding to LEAP, Obama Says Legalizing Marijuana and Other Drugs a "Legitimate Topic for Debate" (Press Release)

President Says We Need to Shift to Public Health Focus, But His Budgets Haven't Done That

WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, in response to a video question from a former deputy sheriff about whether it is time to discuss legalizing and regulating drugs in light of the failure of the "war on drugs," President Barack Obama said that it is "an entirely legitimate topic for debate" but that he is not in favor of legalization.

The President then went on to say that he sees drug abuse as a public health issue and that a shifting of resources is required, away from the traditional approach of incarcerating nonviolent drug offenders.

"The president talks a good game about shifting resources and having a balanced, public health-oriented approach, but it doesn't square with the budgets he's submitted to Congress," said Neill Franklin, a retired Baltimore narcotics cop and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of cops, judges and prosecutors who support legalizing and regulating drugs. "The Obama administration has maintained the Bush-era two-to-one budget ratio in favor of prisons and prosecution over treatment and prevention. It doesn't add up. Still, it's historic that the president of the United States is finally saying that legalizing and regulating drugs is a topic worthy of discussion. But since the president remains opposed to legalization, it's clear that the people are going to have to lead the way. Police officers and innocent civilians are dying every single day in this drug war; it's not a back-burner issue."

The president's comments today, part of a forum organized by YouTube where people could submit and vote on questions, came in response to a question from MacKenzie Allen, a LEAP member and a retired deputy sheriff who did policing in Los Angeles, CA and King County (Seattle), WA. Allen's question got the most votes in the contest, garnering twice as many as the second most-popular question.

The original question and President Obama's response can be viewed at

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at

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CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc


  1. He is saying also he is trying to change our attitude. He is a one term president. I don't believe him and I really think he is using the war on drugs as a smokescreen to disarm people.

  2. Acknowledging the need for debate is a crucial first step, and the only step a President can take in the current social environment of complete confusion on the facts about drug use. It is the same step that Pres. Calderon of Mexico has already taken, as has Pres. Santos of Colombia. Except Santos blatantly favours legalization.

    L.E.A.P. has done great work in getting legalization publicized. But it has focussed entirely on the message that prohibition doesn't work. It is time for the other necessary message to get out - legalization will not increase drug abuse or drug addiction. I would love to see L.E.A.P. join forces with:
    The International Centre for Science in Drug Policy,
    the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs.

  3. In this society of ever-increasing stress levels, how can anyone possibly justify keeping the substance that promotes violence (alcohol) "legal", while insisting that the substance that suppresses violence (Cannabis) should be kept "illegal"! Total absence of logic. Cannabis is not physically addictive as it has no documented physical withdrawal syndrome associated with its use; smoking Cannabis has been shown to have NO connection with increased risk of lung cancer, the so-called "gateway drug" theory is a non-existent entity altogether, and Marinol is a synthetic THC analogue, which is not at all the same thing as Medicinal Cannabis. This is together with the remarkable medicinal properties of the Cannabis plant, the denial of which is not even a "rational" thing to do! It is as pointed out in the prestigious "Substance Abuse: A Comprehensive Textbook" that states clearly that "Cannabis use suppresses violent behavior and only the unsophisticated think otherwise". Cannabis prohibition is doing more harm to this society than many people realize, as the (young) people are pushed to "experiment" with alcohol/hard drugs or dangerous, physically addictive prescription drugs, many of which promoting violent behavior instead of suppressing it as Cannabis does. CA Prop. 19 directly challenged the DEA "dogmas", and it was the reason why it infuriated the "powers that be" the way it did! Unfortunately, many lawmakers are still swayed by the DEA disinformation in all these respects, but one thing is clear: just like other repressive entities before it, the DEA will not be able to defend its mindless "dogmas" by repression alone; sooner or later the American people will clearly see this nonsense, and they will not tolerate it indefinitely!

  4. so, when is the debate? who's gonna be involved? I would love to see old Joe Biden weigh in on this one with several members of leap and international television cameras in the room..

    Obama acknowledging that a shift in resources is required should be sufficient enough for LEAP and others to present him with a tentative plan for ending the criminalization of all substance users--which sounds like what he plans on doing anyway. He just needs a lot of help due to certain opposing forces.

    Thanks to LEAP, the war on drugs is almost over!!!

  5. Walk your talk Obama. Shift the focus on drugs to a health issue. The war on drugs is worse than drugs themselves.

  6. "change" our ATTITUDE???? that's like telling a christian that he needs to "change" his attitude... we need to CHANGE the laws what your doing is unconstitutional, and anybody who supports you, is NOT a tru PATRIOT

  7. President Obama sure talked a lot about decriminalizing Marijuana before he was elected... but then he said a lot of things BEFORE he was elected!!!


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