Retired LAPD Brass Challenges Obama on Drug Policy

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A former deputy chief's inquiry about marijuana legalization placed first among the videos in the president's 'ask-me-a-question' YouTube contest.



After the State of the Union address, President Obama solicited questions from Americans on the White House YouTube page. Among the 133,230 submitted, the video query that received the most votes came from Stephen Downing, a former LAPD deputy chief, who said the following:

Mr. President, my name is Stephen Downing, and I'm a retired deputy chief of police from the Los Angeles Police Department. From my 20 years of experience I have come to see our country's drug policies as a failure and a complete waste of criminal justice resources. According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalizing and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?

Here's how Obama handled a question on the same subject last year:



He notes that "we have to go after drug cartels that are causing havoc" on the U.S.-Mexican border. If only there were a policy solution that would instantly eliminate the profits of those cartels...

There were a lot of other questions about drug policy submitted through the YouTube contest. A small sample:

drug policy.jpg

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Conor Friedersdorf is a staff writer at The Atlantic, where he focuses on politics and national affairs. He lives in Venice, California, and is the founding editor of The Best of Journalism, a newsletter devoted to exceptional nonfiction.

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