America’s major newspapers ask Obama to please chill on pot

Within the last four days the New York Times and the Washington Post have both published editorials calling for the Obama administration to relax and let Colorado and Washington have their fun with their newly legalized pot—without threat of the Feds crashing in and ruining the party.

And there’s reason to think they might do just that—in Obama’s first term he quietly escalated a war on marijuana, sending federal troops to pull rank over local law enforcement and shut down pot pharmacies in California.

The Times and Washington Post endorsements of legal pot in Colorado and Washington follow fairly similar narratives: It’s the right thing to do logistically based on the resources we’d save from decriminalization and the revenue we’d raise by taxed regulation, and it’s the right thing to ethically because the people of entire states have spoken and crushing their will is a pretty serious breach of the democratic process.

All the reasons make perfect sense. And Obama is an exceptionally sensible president. I personally have a theory that there’s an unspoken agent putting added pressure on the president to appear strongly anti-drug: With the crazies in this country already suspicious of Obama because the color of his skin makes him “different”—to the the point that a sizable portion of them refuse to believe he was born here—it could dangerously reinforce hurtful stigmas if he were to appear friendly on marijuana. The portion of the country who joined Bill O’Reilly in lamenting the decline of the “white establishment” as “traditional America” on election night would waste no time labeling him the “reefer madness president” if he loosened on drug policy by an inch.

But 500,000 in jail for possessing a substance universally accepted to be no more harmful than alcohol, all to the tune of $60,000 in tax payer funds per prisoner represents a financial and ethical burden that can’t last. Even if there is anything to my theory and Obama’s position as one of the most scrutinized presidents ever is adding extra pressure to the equation, the administration has to find a way to rise above it as they’ve been able to deflect so much of the racist poison thrown their way.

So far the administration has taken a clever way of staying out of it by just keeping silent on Colorado and Washington’s laws. We’ll see if that lasts into the new year. Plus, with no re-election to worry about, who cares what the crazies say anyway?