If you combined Saturday Night Live‘s “Really?” segment with ESPN’s celebration of boneheaded NFL plays titled “C’Mon Man!” you would have my reaction to Derek Rosenfeld’s recent HuffPo article trashing our commander in chief. In his piece “President Obama Is the Last Person Who Should Joke About Marijuana”, Rosenfeld, who is the Internet communications associate at the venerable Drug Policy Alliance, took issue with one joke from the Prez’s annual White House Correspondents Dinner.
What was so egregious about Obama’s marijuana diss? It wasn’t one to begin with.
As jokes go, in fact, it couldn’t be more innocuous:
“But the problem is that the media landscape is changing so rapidly,” the president quipped. “You can’t keep up with it. I mean, I remember when Buzzfeed was just something I did in college around 2 a.m.”
If you think that has to do strictly with cannabis or was a jab at pot smokers only, I’ve got a greenhouse to sell you. Barry is a well-documented night owl, but if you’re up at 2AM, it’s probably because you closed down the bar, not smoked down with your friend.
I get it: pot gives you the “munchies”. But we potheads don’t own that any more than the gays own rainbows. Did the folks over at the DPA have a little too much sativa and, in a bout of paranoia, assume he was talking about them?
They must have, because the rest of the article is an unabashed rant against his presidency. Rosenfeld goes on to tout one of the most specious statistics that pot warriors throw around: Obama “has overseen more law enforcement raids on medical marijuana dispensaries than George W. Bush during his entire eight years in office.”
Hey, here’s a fact for you: he’s allowed more legal marijuana businesses to operate than the last 10 presidents.
Let’s also ignore that some of those DEA raids hit fronts for cocaine traffickers, amongst other things. Or that U.S. Attorneys were carrying out busts contradictory to instructions by the Obama administration during his run for re-election, knowing a strong pro-pot stance could jeopardize his campaign. Ignore all of that.
Next, Rosenfeld throws out some good facts about racial profiling when it comes to marijuana charges, but claims that today he would “very likely lose the chance of becoming President.” I could see the argument if he had bothered to make one. Losing access to student loans, for example, could have derailed young Barack. An arrest record? The guy he replaced, the loathsome GW Bush, had three priors before getting to the White House. Somewhere in Texas, he’s working on his fourth.
As a comedian, my biggest issue is that this article advances the notion of marijuana as a sacred cow. Especially after the DPA has held comedy fundraiser after fundraiser, even buying Prop 19 spots on Comedy Central. Whether it’s Cheech Marin or Doug Benson, humor has long been an effective tool for getting people to confront things they’re uncomfortable with.
What’s their alternative? Attack the guy who even the author admits has smoked marijuana, believes the drug war has failed and believes in science over ideology.
Because they didn’t get a punchline.
Everyone knows the president can, with a flick his magic wand, legalize whatever he wants! Don’t go after members of Congress, you know… the ones he mentions at the end of the piece that are capable of having an actual impact when it comes to legislation.
Rosenfeld must have spent a lot of time inside of that Trojan horse, because his argument reeks.
Box Corner is a weekly opinion column by Box Johnson, a Denver-area comedian and Toke of the Town contributor. When not writing, he can be found working on creating laser technology to clean dirty pipes.