“Prison is for rapists, thieves, and murderers. If you lock someone up for smoking a plant that makes them happy, you’re the fucking criminal.” – Joe Rogan
Washington D.C. -- The timeless words of Joe Rogan seem to be taking their toll on the consciences of American politicians. To kidnap and lock people in a cage for a personal choice and action that harms no one, is an evil act. Some politicians are figuring this out -- or at least pandering to public demand. Either way, the beneficial result is the same and Barack Obama has just added to that benefit.
According to the AP:
In a last major act as president, Barack Obama cut short the sentences of 330 federal inmates convicted of drug crimes on Thursday, bringing his bid to correct what he's called a systematic injustice to a climactic close.
With his final offer of clemency, Obama brought his total number of commutations granted to 1,715, more than any other president in U.S. history, the White House said. During his presidency Obama ordered free 568 inmates who had been sentenced to life in prison.
Despite largely continuing the drug war and drastically increasing raids on medical marijuana facilities as compared to his predecessor, Barack Obama has somehow managed to dupe people into thinking he was pro-legalized pot. And now, as his reign comes to an end, he seems to be reversing course.
Over the years, Obama has blown a lot of smoke (pun intended) when it came to his views on the war on drugs. He's played Mr. Nice Guy while his heavily militarized government task forces have laid waste to the rights and property of peaceful people trying to help their fellow man by growing medical marijuana.
Under Obama, police in America, through the federal 1033 program, have acquired MRAP's, grenade launchers, and even Apache attack choppers; most of which have been used enforcing immoral and unethical drug laws.
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However, Barack Obama has either had a change of heart or simply could not stop an idea whose time has come.
The people have spoken, and politicians who continue to call for the imprisonment of non-violent individuals for their personal choices are being exposed for the vile and obstinate tyrants they are.
Apparently, this notion has made it to the ear Barack Obama, who, in his final 24 hours as POTUS, wishes to leave a less tyrannical legacy.
"He wanted to do it. He wanted the opportunity to look at as many as he could to provide relief," Neil Eggleston, Obama's White House counsel, said in an interview in his West Wing office, according to the AP. "He saw the injustice of the sentences that were imposed in many situations, and he has a strong view that people deserve a second chance."
So many lives have been ruined because the state locks people up for victimless crimes like drug use and possession. To see politicians, even Obama, reverse this trend is heartening — regardless of political views.
While Obama's commutation of the 330 drug sentences is certainly a positive move, it comes nowhere close to his actual potential as President — and the outgoing governor of Vermont, Peter Shumlin, shows just how far Obama could've gone.
“Today I am announcing an effort using the Governor’s pardoning power to expedite our move to a saner drug policy and criminal justice system,” the Governor said last month. “Decriminalization was a good first step in updating our outmoded drug laws. It makes no sense that minor marijuana convictions should tarnish the lives of Vermonters indefinitely.
"We've got folks who got charged for an ounce or less of marijuana in a different era when we were running a failed war on drugs. Let's give those folks the opportunity to have a clean record," Shumlin said.
Shumlin, who only has jurisdiction to pardon in Vermont, issued a whopping 208 pardons, 192 of which are for marijuana only. While the number is not as large as Obama's, it is important to note the size of Vermont as compared to the rest of the country. It is also important to note that Obama commuted sentences, he did not issue pardons — meaning everyone on Shumlin's list gets out immediately and everyone on Obama's list will just do less time.