Jewish World Review March 28, 2013/ 17 Nissan, 5773
Where Obama should listen to Rand Paul: Legal pot
By Clarence Page
As the nation's capital prepares to open its first legal medicinal marijuana dispensary and Sen.
Until now, the president has been remarkably adept at taking positions that seemed to be ahead of their time -- and getting ahead of them.
For example, when he declared his full support for the right of same-sex couples to marry, there were fears among his supporters that he would lose important votes before his re-election campaign, particularly among black churchgoers. Those fears proved to be exaggerated.
But four years after his
At the other extreme, November ballots in
And, on another front, Sen. Paul, a famously libertarian
In a recent interview with
"Our prisons are full of nonviolent criminals," Paul said. "I don't want to encourage people to do it. I think even marijuana is a bad thing to do. ... But I also don't want to put people in jail who make a mistake."
He spoke forcefully of the many young nonviolent offenders like President Obama, who has written about his teen drug indiscretions, and possibly former President
"Look, the last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use and I really think, you know, look what would have happened," he said. "They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, they don't get lucky, they don't have good attorneys, and they go to jail for these things, and I think it's a big mistake."
On that note regarding nonviolent drug offenders, Paul strikes a nerve with me and numerous other African Americans and civil rights advocates. As
The result is a new form of second-class citizenship that traps them in "a parallel social universe, denied basic civil and human rights." That includes the right to vote, to serve on juries and to be free of legal discrimination in employment, housing, access to education and other public benefits.
And the financial cost on top of the social cost of the failed "war on drugs" has caused such big conservative names as anti-tax lobbyist
With the trends moving in such a productive direction, I'm hardly alone in wondering what President Obama is waiting for. As with the issue of same-sex marriage, his support could get ahead of the trend and help move it along. He can even claim it was his idea all along.
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© 2013, TMS