According to an interview by Vice News posted on March 17th, President Obama believes the Millennial generation has its priorities all screwed up. This is the same generation that got him into office, if you don’t remember. (Check the Pew Research Center stats here on his 2008 election.)
When Vice News announced that it would be interviewing the Prez, they opened up a channel where its audience could post questions that they wanted to be asked during the 18 minute segment. The most popular comment/question? About legalizing marijuana. President Obama’s response?
“First of all, it shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority.”
Well, first of all, we didn’t claim it to be our “biggest priority.” It was simply the most popular question posed on a single website. Chill out, bro.
“Young people, I understand this is important to you, but as you be thinking about climate change, the economy — jobs, war and peace, maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”
Yeah, I get that. We should prioritize the many, many problems your generation has served to us with a little more intelligence. Except, in many ways, legalizing marijuana – specifically recreational marijuana – could be a step in the right direction to finding big solutions to a number of those issues.
- Climate change. I’ll admit, this is a little bit of a stretch, but it’s worth mentioning since our President is being pompous. Legalizing marijuana could move illegal growers from at-home set ups to outdoor and/or industrial set ups. This affects the environment because it means we aren’t wasting tons of electricity (reducing greenhouse gas emissions) on inefficient lighting.
- The economy — jobs. Are you kidding me right now? We’re talking about creating an entire new industry but you don’t think that affects jobs, or the economy? Let’s take a gander at Colorado, shall we? According to the Colorado Department of Revenue, the state raked in $61,372,376 in 2014. That’s just in marijuana taxes. A large portion of those went straight into education, which, you know, affects an individual’s ability to get a job and become a productive part of the economy.
- War and peace. How about the failed War on Drugs, Mr. President? The U.S. spends $51,000,000,000 on the War on Drugs annually. In 2013, 693,482 people were charged with marijuana law violations – 88% of which were arrested for possession only.
- To get a idea of just how much money that $51 billion is, consider that the U.S. Census Bureau counted the U.S. population at 320,087,963 as of December 31st, 2014 – that’s $159.33 per person (man, woman and child) if the U.S. had redirected that tax money back into each of our pockets.
- This isn’t just about a wasted war, this is about the unnecessary overfilling of our prison system. A problem that takes money away from departments that could actually prevent crimes like, I don’t know, education. Kind of a painful catch-22 there, boss.
“I’d separate out the issue of criminalization of marijuana from encouraging its use.”
I couldn’t agree more. Decriminalizing marijuana doesn’t mean we start handing out joints at high school graduations or baby showers. Outside of pain relief, relaxation, and the entire collection of music created in the 60’s, marijuana doesn’t have any health benefits. It doesn’t make you stronger or smarter. So, naturally, the U.S. government shouldn’t be encouraging its use. In that same vein, however, there are several things the government encourages/endorses that perhaps it shouldn’t:
- An 1/8 cup of tomato paste equating to a normal serving of vegetables on our school lunch lines. A pizza is not a healthy choice of nutrition for our school children. Get out of Papa John’s back pocket, please.
P.S. Tomatoes are a fruit.
- The discrepancy between the legal voting/military service age (18) and the legal drinking age (21). I’m not encouraging anyone to imbibe – alcohol is an incredibly dangerous drug when abused – but it’s pretty illogical that we as a nation expect our citizens to be capable of voting for their leaders (like you, Obama), participating fully in their civil responsibilities (paying taxes, obeying laws), and potentially killing and/or giving their lives for a job (military service) without the right to have a drink. Lower the drinking age or make it illegal outside of medicinal uses (pain relief) like marijuana is in most states.
- The endorsement of a single religion, or any religion, in the Pledge of Allegiance. The “under God” statement wasn’t even a part of the original text to begin with. Further, it violates the Constitution’s First Amendment, which states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” Also, the United States believes so strongly that the freedom to practice any religion you desire in peace is an “inalienable right of every human being” that it actually has an International Religious Freedom office. The office was created to police other nations’ religious freedom practices. A little hypocritical to badger other nations about their religious liberties when we can’t even get ours straight.
Obama pussyfooted a bit at the end of the marijuana portion of the discussion, talking about the relationship between drug use, law enforcement and minority targeting, and the overcrowded prison system. To see the whole interview, check it out below. The marijuana portion of the discussion begins at 14:40.
Millennials don’t believe that legalizing marijuana will solve all our nation’s problems. But it’s a step in the possible right direction. Since we know that your steps, like the War on Drugs and maintaining the criminalization of marijuana, haven’t worked, I think it’s high time you take another look at your priorities before you mock ours.
My name is Chelsey Mick, and this is how we like our government as non-hypocritical as possible, thanks.