President Obama talks marijuana & Sasha’s meningitis at townhall

Obama Town Hall

Yesterday, President Obama held a “virtual townhall” in which people could write in questions and he would answer them both online and via a live (and cable news) audience. One of the most memorable questions he got was about the legalization of marijuana, but Obama kept his distance from that pretty well.

“[Question:] With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?”

Obama actually interrupted the M.C of the event — Jared Bernstein, chief economist to the Vice President — in order to tackle the topic. He kept his answer brief.

“There was one question that voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation,” he said. “And I don’t know what this says about the online audience, but … this was a popular question. We want to make sure it’s answered. The answer is no, I don’t think that’s a good strategy to grow our economy. All right.”

[From Huffington Post]

President Obama also got a question about health care policy from a nurse, and he gave a surprisingly personal answer. He spoke about his youngest daughter, Sasha, and her life-threatening case of meningitis when she was just a baby. I knew Sasha had been very sick when she was a very young child, but I didn’t know she had meningitis.

Even the leader of the free world has his weak spots. President Obama’s is his daughters.

When Sasha – “our little precious pea” – was just three months old, she was hospitalized with life-threatening meningitis, Obama said at an unprecedented White House Internet town-hall meeting Thursday.

“Very dangerous,” the President said, responding to a health-policy question from a nurse in the audience. “The doctors did a terrific job, but frankly it was the nurses that were there with us when she had to get a spinal tap, and all sorts of things that were just bringing me to tears.”

The result: Sasha, now 7, got better, and Obama will always appreciate RNs.

“I’m biased toward nurses,” he said. “I just like nurses.”

[From People Magazine]

I’m sure there are a lot of nurses out there who appreciate some love from the president. It must be absolutely terrifying to watch your infant daughter go through a spinal tap. He really just adores his girls so much, it makes me a little weepy.

As far as the marijuana stuff – well, what did you think he was going to say? That he would announce sweeping changes to drug policies to help out the stoners? Munchies are not an economic stimulus plan, and burnouts don’t help the economy.

Here’s President Obama at the Town Hall meeting in D.C. yesterday. Images thanks to Newscom.
Obama Town Hall

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46 Responses to “President Obama talks marijuana & Sasha’s meningitis at townhall”

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  1. justme says:

    im not an american im canadian but i would legalize weed. u alwasy hear about ppl getting in accidents who r drinking. how many r ppl on weed. not many. why is that. cuz we dont go out and do stupid shit that drunks do. we are content sitting on our butts keeping to our selfes. the world would b less stressful if up tight ppl would just smoke a joint and relax. lmao

  2. It’s not about helping out the freaking stoners. It’s about bringing hemp into the equation (a very valuable resource that one one knows shit about because corporations don’t want to go out of business). I have Glaucoma and have to take these stupid eye drops that cost $140 a month, I CAN’T AFFORD THAT, so i’m going to go blind. I can by an 1/8th and have it last 3 weeks for $40. Way to see only one talking point to the story.

  3. Ursula says:

    I don’t thinl any of those drugs should be legalised just because someone wants to make money. It is probably the drug lords pusing their agenda onto the public. I can bet they power a lot of money into the marijuana debate. The fact is, it has ruined a lot of lives including people I am close to, it would not be moral to legalise it simply because someone wants to make money. Next up, legalise sex for under 15s because some wealthy paedo is pushing the agenda.

  4. cara says:

    Actually, Barry has been quoted as saying he thought that marijuana should be decriminalized during the primaries. And I know the politics are a game, but if he is aman of his “brothers”, well more minority kids are buste for the Ganga then suburban kids. Thus loosing all hoe of financial aid for school, the start of a criminal record, etc.

    And as someone who sells 100% hemp items, I am well aware that every single thing that we get from black oil , we can get from cannabis. (plastic, fuel, textile, food, etc – and hemp farmingis still illegal in many states) Not to mention that the plants will help heal our soil which are being damaged by the biotech seeds.

    So I feel it was irresponsible of him to downplay the cannabis thing, especially someone who ran on “change” because there is Major validity to taking the chains off the cannabis plant.

    And p.s. I am so sick of the “stoner” comments when most of our country’s citizens don’t bat an eye when someone mentions all the pills they are popping!!! Yeah, that’s good thing, who’d you rather see driving, a stoner going ten mile under the speed limit, or someone who is nodding off from their pills. (we are THE most medicated country in the world!!! say no to drugs really worked)

  5. Bodhi says:

    I’m a burnout & I help the economy every day! Y know, what with the driving to & from work, going to the grocery store, paying taxes… all that jazz. just cause I burn doesn’t mean that I don’t participate in the economy

  6. texasmom says:

    I’d like the whole “War on Drugs” cancelled. This *could* grow the economy because the feds could tax the living hell out of drugs, just like alcohol. The illegal drug trade costs us soooo much money — from prisons to law enforcement to social problems. The Mexican drug cartels aren’t that far from destabilizing Mexico. Border city violence is tremendous. Mexican drug criminals smuggle weapons from the US. Last week our newspaper had an article about a small town in Mexico where the local authorities found a half dozen human heads in coolers — people who were being made an example of by the local drug criminals. Mexican journalists have stopped using bylines because of fear of retribution, many editors have moved their families to the US where they live in hiding. All because of “just say no to drugs” — why not say no to prohibition and use tax money from legalized drug sales to pay for drug education for kids?

  7. bros says:

    didnt anyone watch the 60 minutes or dateline on (i think) oakland in californina, or some other town where they pretty much have a pot economy and are raking in tons of money from reefer-nomics? pot should be legalized and taxed and in addition to its obvious medical benefits, its a facile and silly argument to say that stoners and potheads dont contribute economically. youd be surprised how many contributing members of society smoke weed occasionally. we need to get over our pot issues.

  8. Kaiser says:

    Good Lord. I see we have some subscribers to High Times in here!

    I didn’t mean to disrespect the doob-smokers out there, or the burnouts, Bodhi (although if you were truly a burnout, you wouldn’t be doing all of that stuff you mentioned- lol).

    I actually do think pot should be legalized and taxed. But I don’t think it would make a significant difference to the economy.

  9. cara says:

    And I’d like to add, that with all the talk of the Mexican drug cartel killings, with a US marshall dead today, much has been arisen about marijuana being the cartels #1 source of income….but who smokes Mexican Ganja?!? Certainly not a connoiseur of marijuana.

    @Ursula…..part of why I work so hard to get people on board with the legalization of the cannabis plant is because for me, to see and know that marijuana TRUMPS sexual abuse in our courts today is a crime. Our prisons are filled with nonviolent offenders, more then all of europe combined, and yet how many repeat sexual offenders have killed again since 2000. I can count and name at least ten children. Those kids died for our sins, because we turn a blind eye to what our judicial system has done and is doing because they are “tuff on crime” and we believe them. Marijuana is not a “stoner” issue it effects all of us. For marijuana to be the #1, as in most arrest, for the DEA in the last ten years and methadone, during that same period has been THE most perscribed “pain reliever” by US md’s is an outrage and should leave all of those with half a brain to think, “what is it about marijuana that scares the pants off those in control?” because maybe that is the key.

  10. Kaiser says:

    Damn. I have no idea where my Ava Gardney gravitar went.

  11. Kaiser says:


  12. Bodhi says:

    There it is! No worries, Kaiser. It just makes me nuts that weed is illegal while alcohol isn’t. Alcohol (which I also throughly enjoy) is so much worse!

  13. snackstick says:

    Ursula: The “drug lords” aren’t pushing for legalization, because that would put them out of business. Decriminalization is one of the strongest pro-legal arguments.

  14. Melanie says:

    I marijuana were legalized people would sit around and do nothing. What makes countries like America great is the will to do better…From personal experience, weed always make me pretty happy and complacent. It’s better for the economy if people’s wants outweigh their means to get them, that way they are always striving to do better. Maybe I would like it to be legalized when I am retired.

  15. snackstick says:

    Melanie: Yeah, I’m sure the country would come to a grinding halt if pot was suddenly legal. *rolls eyes*

  16. Prissa says:

    I agree with Bodhi. I don’t smoke anymore but my cousin still does. He can smoke a spliff (or 2) every day and ALWAYS goes to work (10 hour days 6 days a week). Don’t generalize with “burners” and “pot head” comments. You’d be surprised how many hard working Americans toke up!!

  17. geronimo says:

    @Prissa – …And Europeans!
    @Bodhi, could not agree more re the alcohol argument. The downsides of too much weed could never come even close to the fallout from alcohol abuse – lost work hours being the least of it: road-deaths, violence and abuse, physical and otherwise, chronic organ failure, early deaths, ruined families, wasted lives etc etc.

  18. Chiara says:

    I live in California and we have a robust economy with 14B as our largest cash crop from marijuana. I have one family member who is on medical marijuana and he can legally grow x amount under his prescription.

    I have mixed feelings about legalization … tax revenue great, corporate take over of small farming operations, questionable 🙂

  19. Dingles says:

    I personally know a middle-aged woman who makes six figures a year…and smokes weed on a regular basis. While I do understand Obama’s desire to keep this topic at a distance for now, I believe it deserves more consideration. I really don’t understand why weed is criminalized when you can buy salvia, a very powerful hallucinogenic, at the local head shop down the street.

  20. Trillion says:

    I suspect somehow that Obama privately knows it would be the right thing to do, but he’s playing politics and shutting the argument down. Pity.

  21. wellthen says:

    JUSTME- my aunt was waiting in her car to pick up her son from school when she was hit by a car coming at a crazy speed. Guess who was in the car? Stupid f*cking potheads. They ran out of the car, so when the police came, they found them hiding in the woods with their f*cking weed. People who smoke weed dont only cause accidents, they are a disgrace to the world and are complete scum.

  22. aleach says:

    i like to think im doing my part to stimulate the economy with all the munchies im buying after ive smoked a nice blunt!
    legalize the ganj!

  23. Aleksa says:

    I don ´t smoke weed or drink alcohol, but I a, in constant atrocious pain due to illness. I take morphine, which I think it´s probably more harmful to me in the long run, although I´m very cautious with it. This is in S-Pain.
    A friend of mine who lives in the U.K.and is in a similar situation as me, takes a cannabis-based prescribed drug for the painwhich apparently seems to work better, too.
    I just kind of wish I was given a choice here.

  24. justme says:

    to “wellthen” i apoligize for that comment offending u. i meant that u rarely hear of an accident by someone who smokes weed over someone who is drunk. i smoke everyday. one joint. i still get up and go to work 8 hours day. i contribute to society. im not saying we r all like this. yes there r some ppl who take it to far and dont do anything but i think it should b leagilized if the person is responible and doesnt cause shit. my friends and i dotn bother anyone. like i said i am very content sitting on my butt helping the economy by buying munchies. sorry if this offends u but this is my opionion whether u like it or not

  25. Bobby the K says:


    Ursula: The last thing the drug lords, organized crime and a few of my neighbours want to see is pot become decriminalized.

    You want to take this tax free cash cow away from bikers and other gangs?
    Shame on You!

    That’s why you find high end criminals actually supporting law & order candidates. The tougher the laws the more $ they get.

    There’s a saying about politics and bedfellows.

  26. mama9 says:

    This reminds me of a song
    “If you legalize marijuana like you legalize the pill, there won’t be no jailhouses filled”

  27. bittercup says:

    The government will regulate the strength of pot that can be sold and make the good shit even more expensive. Leave it alone.

  28. L says:

    i agree that the effects of alcohol use and/or abuse are far worse than any effects of marijuana use and/or abuse.

    i think president obama worries that the fanfare and enthusiasm that might spread over the country if he legalized marijuana might trump the excitement over his own election…i don’t think he in 2009 he wants anything that will overshadow that in people’s minds or in the history books.


  29. mE says:

    Lean towards “Legalize It” (who sang that song?) but there are some pretty valid points here.

    I don’t see a whole lot of difference between the alcohol and weed. Although weed seems to be much more of a mellow high. I have yet to hear of a mean pothead. I know plenty of mean drunks.

  30. mE says:

    Oh and on the nurse issue. I am so happy they had a good nursing staff during what is such a rough time. I have a child with special needs but she has never had a spinal tap though I have witnessed one. I cannot imagine how agonizing that must have been to watch (most parents I know want to be there with them as I would but I totally understand not wanting to be there right when it was happening)

    Having good nurses can make all the difference. I have had more than my fair share of bad nurses though. More than once I have thrown stuff at a bitch and ordered her out of the room (I was in labor then though but she totally deserved it for her asshole comments to me).

  31. silentA says:

    It really bums me out that marijuana isn’t legal.

    The sh*tty people that smoke, would be sh*tty people regardless of legalization. Just like the mean drunks that exist, there are scummy stoners.

    I smoked for a long time, but I went to work, I went to school, I did my homework, I volunteered. I used it to unwind before bed, much like people have a glass of wine while watching TV.

  32. whaaaat? says:

    Your comments are rather ignorant regarding the legalization of marijuana. Living in the SF Bay area I know MANY highly educated people (Ph.D.’s, M.D., etc) who smoke MJ on a regular basis and are high-functioning, contributing members of society.

    It’s no different than having a glass of wine when you come home from work, to unwind. You are a moron.

  33. the original kate says:

    just curious: for those of you who don’t think marijuana should be legal, how do you feel about alcohol? did we learn nothing from prohibition?

  34. silentA says:


    We’re on the save wavelength.

  35. Mairead says:

    I’d liike to point out that decriminalising marijuana and legalising it aren’t the same thing.

    Decriminalising it means that if you have a small amount you won’t be prosecuted (although you may still lose your spliff), however you are still going to be prosecuted for supplying it. Legalising it means that it can be bought, sold and grown for profit.

    There are plusses and minuses for both arguements, it is still a drug which does cause side-effects.

    However, I do totally agree with an earlier commentator that (non-druggie) hemp should be totally legal to grow.

    It is one of the most amazing plants, and can be used for basically everything. In construction it beats the hell out of most synthetic insultaion materials as moisture won’t cause it to collapse and rot – although not as toasty as wool, it’s still impervious to rodent and insect attack. Plus it’s practially fire-proof, it’ll singe but won’t support a flame. So yeah – it’s a wonderstuff! 😆

  36. Jill says:

    Aleksa, the prescription drug based on THC is available in the US too. It’s dronabinol, brand name is Marinol.

  37. Rachel says:

    To answer your question mE it was Peter Tosh that sang the song Legalize It. He was in the group The Wailers with Bob Marley for awhile till he went solo. You can find most of his stuff on itunes

  38. daniel says:

    first about the nurses, my wife is a nurse and she greatly appreciated the Obama comment.

    Second, about M.J.: It shouldn’t be legal because there are too many pot dealers out there that lace the stuff with other narcotics. It would be impossible to regulate, a nightmare actually and you would see driving accidents increase sharply, etc.. As far as growing hemp for rope and raw materials this would be excellent, especially for paper manufacturers.

  39. daisy424 says:

    It is difficult to watch your child go through that procedure. What loving parent wouldn’t be there for their child? Terrifying yes, a remarkable event, no. It’s good parenting, plain and simple.

    My granddaughter had a spinal tap at that age, she came through it with flying colors. The doctors can usually tell immediately if there is meningitis by the color of the spinal fluid. The entire procedure takes approx. 10 minutes.

  40. daisy424 says:

    edit@Mairead, the only side effect I have had is occasional weight gain from the munchies, and a bit of twinkie cream in my hair.

  41. cookies says:

    there’s a good and bad side to weed the good side being that weed or marijuana can help people with debilitating disease such as cancer or people who suffer from severe chronic pain . It can help ease the pain these people are suffering , the bad side to it is marijuana can lead to stronger drugs and in some cases if bought by a drug dealer can be laced with another drug . .

    But to me the good ways out the bad if marijuana was made legal people who do smoke it can by it from a pharmicist instead of a drug dealer . And if they don’t wanna legalize , they should at least make an exeption for people who can actually benefit from the drug like people who are dying or suffering from pain. .

    Any ways i didnt know obamas daughter had meningitis it’s horrible to see your child in pain and there’s nothing you can do for them but comfort them . . my daughter had a staff infection when she was 6 months old i remember them telling me it could be mrsa and that she would have to stay in the hospital . . its a helpless feeling your scared and feel sick at the same time . . the nurses were the ones that really helped me out they treated us like family they were really gentle and caring with my daughter .. I know the doctors are the ones that saved my daughters life but the nurses are the ones that actually saw me through the whole thing. . It’s nice to see obama giving credit to nurses goes they do diserve it .

  42. cookies says:

    “cause they deserve it ” i have bad grammer and spelling lol

  43. Joolzz says:

    I live in the Vancouver area, right now rival gangs are shooting eachother all over the city….over what? Over territory for selling drugs like MJ. Thats all I have to say.

  44. pixiegirl says:

    The ban on drugs in not just stupid, it’s completely ignorant. The argument that legalizing pot would just create a nation of stoners is ridiculous. Did the legalization of alcohol create a nation of alcoholics? Did it create an industry in which jobs were created and money stopped going to criminals? Yep. Same thing here. If pot/drugs were legal, don’t you think the crime that ALWAYS surrounds them would lessen – a LOT? Of course! And don’t you think the billions and billions of dollars spent on prosecuting/housing drug criminals would be spent on perhaps a better purpose? Yep. There is no realistic argument against legalization except the tired enforcement of someone else’s morality.

  45. lil Reazzyana tyler says:

    I think marijuana would greatly benefit our economy beacause it would not only open up jobs and shops it would also bring tourism people who smoke marijuana would visit here just to expierence pot legally. another thing pot isnt that dangerous of drug shouldnt we be worrying about other crimes like violence, sex offenders, murders serial killers? when u smoke pot its a non violent crime plus if this is suppose to be a free country based on the countries moral belief it goes against what the constitution stands for

  46. buy salvia says:

    I totally agree with obama on the fact that this drug should not be used to improve economy.