March 28th, 2009
10:01 AM ET
13 years ago

Fundraising jump for marijuana group after Obama snub

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Obama said he didn't think legalizing pot would boost the economy."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - Marijuana backers aren't laughing about President Obama's flippant dismissal of a pot-related question during Thursday's online town hall meeting - and the country's leading marijuana advocacy group, The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, has seen its donations quadruple over the last 24 hours.

Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of NORML, told CNN "our donation boxes started to flood" after Obama laughed off a Web question about whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation. St. Pierre said traffic to the group's Web site has "increased precipitously" since Thursday.

"About half of the donation comments have a reference to Mr. Obama's comments," St. Pierre said. "As far as I'm concerned, he could show up every single day and rag on marijuana."

Watch the president's pot-related comments

Admittedly, the group isn't a fundraising juggernaut: NORML averages about $900 in donations daily, a total that jumped to $3,500 in the 24 hours since Obama joked about pot at the town hall.

But St. Pierre said the anger among marijuana legalization advocates is real.

"Many of them were profoundly disappointed because many of them with great enthusiasm supported Obama from the point of his announcement to when he became president," he said.

St. Pierre acknowledged that marijuana legalization is "by no means at the top of national concerns" like two wars and a troubled economy. However, he said the online question was a serious one, arguing that marijuana legalization would help law enforcement officials cut costs. He also said a legal marijuana industry, like tobacco and alcohol, would create billions in tax revenue for the government.

St. Pierre believes the president and his attorney general, Eric Holder, will be friendlier to marijuana advocates than the previous administration, but he said he knows the topic remains "political dynamite" for any elected official.

"Obama does not want to be dragged down and become the point of cultural jokes and cultural digs because he is giving deference to a subject matter to that this date has been thought of as less than serious," he said of the president's town hall answer. "However, I think what he is probably going to find out, through his handlers, is that he really, really disappointed people in a way that he maybe has never done as politician."

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (233 Responses)
  1. sam

    To legalize cannabis is far less idiotic than legalizing deadly tobacco and alcohal. Tobacco does not one good thing for a person, except to make some people rich. Alcohal can have very negative consequences too. In New Mexico, medicinal marijuana has been legalized. We have not seen any problems yet. However, we have a serious drunk driving problem here and a lot of alcohalism. If legalizing cannabis was a bad idea, it would have been evidenced by the experiences of states and individuals who have supported it's use. Irl Rosenthal, who has been legally using government subsidized and provided medical marijuana since the 70's, is doing fine today. He wonders why no one has come to do studies on him. Pharmaceudical companies are the reason the truth is not being told about God's Herbal remedy.

    March 27, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  2. Steve

    Just about any cop will tell you he or she would rather deal with a stoned person than a drunk person anytime.

    March 27, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  3. Karli FL

    Marijuana has been on this earth longer than we have, so who are to say its wrong or immoral to use?? its proven to have MANY benefits from medicinal to biofuels and clothing. Its interesting people have no problem with the death polls from alcohol or tobacco but mention weed and you might as well of brought up meth. This whole debate is rediculous because it should have been legal LONG ago. People are being put in jail and PRISON for a PLANT. How can any one explain the logic and reasoning behind puting a man in jail longer for illegal substances than a man whom committed rape?? The economy is in a crisis and we're all pussy-footing around this topic. People– it would create THOUSANDS if not MILLIONS of jobs, not to mention BILLIONS in revenue for our country and is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. This country needs to wake up and get their priorities together.

    March 27, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  4. Stoned Steve

    lmao.. not really. i haven't smoked any weed for a couple months because i need to find a job! the only thing marijuana impairs is the ability to pass a drug test and operate heavy machinery. anyone that's going to smoke weed and drive a car is going to do it DRUNK as well, and belive me, i've drank and drove and i've smoked and drove, not proud of either, but drinking and driving is far worse. face the facts people, alcohol ruins lives. marijuana does not. someone who is a loser and smokes marijuana would be the same loser if he smokes it or does not smoke it. alcohol is a poison to the body. thc is not. smoking is harmful yes, but if marijuana was legalized then i would be eating pot cookies and butter and making tea and all that healthy stuff. obama will push to legalize marijuana in his second term. as pretty much most intelligent people agree, it would be political suicide to say "yes i'm going to legalize marijuana" at this point. sheesh people, give him a little time.

    March 27, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  5. George

    I really don't see why marijuana should remain illegal while tobacco remains legal. Tobacco has no medical benefits but does contribute to ill health. Marijuana has medicinal value and about the only detrimental effects are some bronchial irritation and possible paranoia in those susceptible. Tobacco brings in a lot of tax dollars and so could marijuana. So why is something that we know is harmful to smoke legal and another product we know is at worst, less harmful illegal? So why is the subject of legalizing and taxing it the subject of a flippant remark when asked about it and why is that OK?

    March 27, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. Jason

    I don't see why people think the support of legalization is political suicide. only the fundamentalists would be upset. I'd say he'd be a hero to at least ten times the number of people he makes angry, by openly supporting legalization. And the rest of the population would be largely unaffected.

    March 27, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Mike from Texas

    People can support most whatever they choose in this country. That's a great thing about living freer than the rest of the world. At the same time, a president can't be all things to all people all the time which is asinine, but often apparently expected. Obama is pulled in conflicting directions on every major issue and then he's criticized for having "really, really disappointed people in a way that he maybe has never done as politician" on a discussion about pot!?! Have you already toked your reasoning cells away? I definitely don't want pot legalized, but if you do, then move forward in your cause with a stronger backbone. Remember to put down the pipe to clear your head long enough in order to make useful progress. Wow..a clear mind..dude, who woulda thought life got this awesome.

    March 27, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. Dewey

    Listen legalising marijuana would

    1.create jobs
    2.lessin the war on drugs (saves tax payer money)
    3.lower the amount of money drug cartels are getting(less powerful)
    4.Keep non-violent people out of jail (saves tax payer money)
    5. Create huge amount of rev in taxes (helps pay off national debt)

    It could be treated just like alcohol with just as strict laws for cases of misuse.

    Besides isn't the nation trying to go green anyway? 🙂

    March 27, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
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