March 28th, 2009
10:01 AM ET
12 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. Scott Durham

    If it isn't obvious by now, the majority of our population happens to use Marijuana. The free flow of this product could easily benefit the economy, and ease the burdensome debt that we find ourselves. Law Enforcement efficiency would shoot up considerably, and the taxes paid on legalized pot would substantially improve our economy. It is representative of sheer economic ignorance to just flippantly deride and dismiss this truth as 'silly' or 'amusing'. I believe the free market control of an employer's requirement to test drug free should be the only form of discipline on this. If you think the War on Terror is pointless, the War on Drugs was lost a long time ago, and it is too strong an opponent to overcome at this point. Our culture and creed demands the full repeal of all restrictions on Marijuana. Allow Americans to use their own judgement on this matter and propose a National Referendum immediately, if it doesn't pass at a rate of 90 percent, I'll eat my hat.

    March 27, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  2. the intelligent one in the bunch.

    It honestly doesn't matter if its legal or illegal, people that use marijuana, use marijuana.
    if you woke up one day and marijuana was magically decriminalized or legalized the world around you would be no different than it is today.


    March 27, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  3. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    These folks could be "plants", who were secretly hoping to set the President up as the "Poster Boy" for marijuana. Regardless how much funds they raise, they will remain a minority group, and should be made to abide by the law of the land.

    March 27, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  4. Jan - Or

    The Marijuana drug should be prescribed only by a physician as a last resort for medical treatment with proven positive results for a medical condition. There should be stronger regulation, like all other drugs, this drug should be purchased at a pharmacy and possibly reorder every 14 days rather once a month.

    Marijuana Medical ID Cards I feel is open ended and the substance amount is not adequately monitored and It concerns me this method is too easy to share the drug with others.

    March 27, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. jill

    At least post a comment that has a point to it, besides don't legalize it, and how anyone who wants to see it legalized is crazy or high. if so, please tell my entire crime and society class and professor. This is 2009, and it is a plant. Again, show me statistics of how many deaths marijuana has caused.

    Let's make alcohol illegal. If you accept alcohol, what kind of feesible arguement can be made for not allowing marijuana. Some people need to catch up to 2009.

    I do think the president should have addressed it. It hardly means I don't like him as our president. No one should bash the president and people should be more respectful, either present points and intelligent arguements or don't post

    March 27, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  6. Brooks

    I am out raged as a Obama supporter and I voted for that guy. I never thought he would laugh off a serious question. I voted for change and this is what I would expect from a rep. If I could go back I would change my vote not just based on that comment but the huge spending and not stopping the bonuses or looking into that kinda stuff before he handed out billions.

    March 27, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. MsRotten

    People are smoking it anyway; and will CONTINUE to do so, laws or no laws.

    It's really stupid of the Government not to cash in on it! An easy "cash cow"!

    I do not consider pot a "drug" anyway.....far from it!

    And, no.....I do NOT smoke the crap. Just smelling it gives me an instand headache.

    March 27, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  8. anon

    Federal laws against cannabis are as archaic as the rhetorics against it. Illegal for too long now, and is the country any safer? Smoking for 35 years, and the only worries I have are from the laws, and those are toothless.
    It's been too long, something needs to finally end the stalemate. Either legalize marijuana or execute the stoners, but for chrissakes, do something!

    March 27, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  9. John Brand

    Just the fact that they are considering legalizing it should show everyone that the governement doesn't make laws in our best interest, but money's best interest. Wake up people it's time to take our once great country back from the people that ruined it. Also what is the point of commenting if you hide behind fake names and anonymous, it's sort of like a tree falling in the woods with nobody around. Think about it.

    March 27, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  10. harold

    of the people and by the people what a joke big corps and the rich run this country. mankind has always sought out mind altering subtances. plant ,s to make beer ect . take the money out the gangs hands. crime would go down , jails would not be so full, less spent on the drug an popaganda wars, money not flowing to south america this would not help our economy? lets all watch the popagand films so we can get it right lol Obama was wrong to blow off the question.

    March 27, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  11. Nick

    Keep cruising on Mr. President!!

    Your election was a testmony that if you have patience,persistence and grace, then you will get through to where you wanna be no matter the obstacles!

    March 27, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  12. juan

    thanks obama keep it illegal and use tax payers money to TRY to stop it and get nowhere. it keeps us in business and it is good, we are raking it in faster than we can launder it in the us right under the governments nose. and we sell it to anybody with money and a big fat zero goes to the government, its all profit!

    March 27, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  13. Joshua Farmer

    I agree, legalizing pot is ridiculous. Everyone says it is so good. Well, take it from a smoker himself and AN alcoholic...both drugs generate violence. Both drugs generate deaths. Both drugs have harmful side effects. It's time the generation of the 90's steps up and actually starts reading credible studies on the effects of both.

    March 27, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  14. Kris

    My only concern about legalizing pot is that it is like alcohol and is mind-altering. Would pro-pot people accept similar laws that are in place for alcohol. You can't drive while under the influence of pot; you can't go to work high, you can't supply pot to minors??? Just wondering?

    March 27, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  15. Joel iflygreen

    Like him or not, our President Obama is one smart fellow and there is no doubt he supports legalization and he probably wishes he could smoke with all of the teachers, police officers, librarians and construction workers out there that light one up on Friday night. He is also smart enough to know that blatantly stating his support of marijuana is going to cause a coronary in every senior citizen and police officers whose mortgage payment is dependent on its continued prohibition. But folks, opinions about marijuana are changing daily all around us. It is everywhere in the media right now and it won't be long, legalization is right around the corner.

    March 27, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  16. Massachusetts Voter

    We just decriminialized possession of less than an ounce here in Mass. Many of the police chiefs, the DAs, etc, warned it would wreck havoc.

    It hasn't. Nothing has changed, except you don't get a criminal record if you're caught.

    There is no blood in the street.

    March 27, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  17. Fred

    This is what we need. Stone the people and give them a Blackberry and the ruling elite will be able to walk in take this country. WAKE UP AMERICA!

    March 27, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Enough

    Agree with LEB-Illionois...I also have high school and college kids. Unless you are a complete clueless parent; 75% of these kids ARE smoking and drinking! If you think not then they are lying and sneaking behind your back. Probably 25-50% high school seniors have purchased a fake ID and that number jumps to 75-100% college freshman. How many parents have been at a bar on Any College Campus, USA? ALL students must have a 21 or over ID to get into any bar. Do you really think all those students are all 21 and over? Not if they are a freshman or sophomore. Some juniors are still under age! How many college students have died from drinking way too much alcohol? Sadly, too many to count. How many students have died from smoking too much pot? Students of all ages have always been drinking, smoking and there is nothing we as parents can do to stop them especially when they leave for college. They are unsupervised and free to do as they please unless they get caught! I have seen students sloppy drunk and I can honestly say high students are safer than drunk students! Marijuana needs to be decriminalized; too many non-violent decent people are in prison. President Obama had to say "No" to legalizing marijuana or he would have been crucified.

    March 27, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. jerry

    Have we forgotten the fact that we are still at war in the Middle East?
    We have a astronomical deficit?
    Half of the country is unemployed?
    Folks are very depressed and stressed out!
    No new resources for finding a new cash cow?
    All that TAX FREE money is going up in smoke?
    And yet, we have a moral obligation to make America Free of Drugs?
    Are you people insane? Didn't we try that with Prohibition? It didn't work then and doesn't work now.....

    Money is money, and we need it NOW, if you don't like it then don't smoke it?
    Legalize it NOW!

    March 27, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  20. vennessa

    Well that's not would be what is LESS popular than GOP leaders!

    March 27, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  21. Peter

    Anyone who enjoys drinking alcohol but opposes the legalization of marijuana is either a hypocrite or ignorant of the facts.

    March 27, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  22. Cheetoh

    My favorite part about legalization is the people who argue, "When you get lung cancer..."

    If weed becomes legal, the price will drop, which means noone will smoke it..EVER. Do you know all the delicious things it can be made into?

    Common Sense, FIGURE IT OUT!!!

    March 27, 2009 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  23. alex arichards

    Some of the things people have been saying are entirely misguided and hold their own preconcived notions against pot users. Pot is a drug that many people in our country use, 20 million people, not all of them are sitting around all day smoking pot. They contribute to society and on their free time they smoke to reduce stress and to have fun in a way similar to many people use alcohol. Everybody who is just dismissing all these people as "usless potheads" needs to realize that the people who wanted an answer from Obama are educated and informed people.

    Secondly, The issue at hand was not that Obama doesnt want to legalize marijuana but that he didn't take this question seriously despite thousands who asked it did. This is not the way to inspire change, everybody's voice needs to be heard. I am very dissapointed in the way the president handled this and he needs to know that he made a mistake.

    March 27, 2009 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  24. Rob

    Why should we legalize pot? 14 million Americans already use it somewhat regularly.

    Americans buy pot illegally, sending money to Mexican drug cartels. Mexican drug cartels use that money to buy guys and wage a war against Mexican authorities, which is now creeping across the border. We're seeing increases in violence and kidnappings in border towns. Americans are funding needless violence.

    Aside from that, this drug is HARMLESS. People who smoke pot are not violent. They are not dangerous. They'd rather pass out and take a nap than get into a fight. Pot makes you want to do nothing but stare at a TV, and if that's a crime, we are ALL guilty.

    March 27, 2009 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  25. arturo

    I understand why he joked about it, even though it was very dissapointing. Those who are opposed to him would have used it as leverage against him if he would have agreed. I think that the legalization of cannabis would be best for everyone. It would deglorify the drug, as well as end the violence down south, and would stop putting nonviolent offenders in jail. America Wake Up!!

    March 27, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
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