Advocates for legalization or decriminalization can no longer be dismissed.
Nominated for a Supreme Court seat in 1987, Douglas H. Ginsburg withdrew from consideration when it was revealed that he'd tried marijuana decades earlier as a student. Five years later, America elected Bill Clinton to the presidency despite his admission that he tried marijuana. The taboo against the drug was still powerful enough that he hedged his answer by claiming that he never inhaled. It was the last time we're likely to hear an excuse so absurd, for everything started changing very quickly after that. Presidential candidates began candidly admitting marijuana use. Sixteen states enacted laws legalizing marijuana for medical use, starting with California in 1996. An additional 12 states are now considering similar legislation. And Obama took office having said that inhaling was the whole point when he was a young marijuana user, and promising that Department of Justice resources wouldn't be used to thwart state cannabis laws.
Of course, President Obama has governed as an unreformed drug warrior, even breaking his promise about federal behavior toward states where medical marijuana is legal. Early in his presidency, he also treated questions about marijuana policy as if the subject was somehow a joke. It's a dodge that doesn't work anymore. Jann Wenner asked him about the issue in Rolling Stone. Reform advocates immediately seized on the misdirection in his answer. Jimmy Kimmel raised the subject again at the White House Correspondents Dinner Saturday, polling the room to see how many people had used the drug and stating in a moment of seriousness, "Mr. President, I hope you don't think I'm out of line here but marijuana is something that real people care about."