In the ending minutes of the Democratic Presidential Debate on MSNBC two weeks ago, Tim Russert asked the candidates if any of them disagreed with Sen. Chris Dodd’s recent statement that he supports the decriminalization of marijuana. Sen. Barack Obama and former Sen. John Edwards both raised their hands. Edwards gave his reasons for his opposition:
“I think it sends the wrong signal to young people. And I think the president of the United States has a responsibility to ensure that we’re sending the right signals to young people.”
This is a very interesting statement on the part of John Edwards, and on the part of Barack Obama. Because John Edwards admitted to having used marijuana during the 2003 Democratic Presidential debate sponsored by “Rock the Vote”. Obama has gone even further; in his book “Dreams From My Father”, Obama wrote:
“I blew a few smoke rings, remembering those years. Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though.”
What is particularly fascinating about these statements by these candidates for the Presidency is that they are supporting criminal penalties which they themselves admit having avoided, which in many cases would not only prevent them from being viable candidates for their current and previous elected offices, but would prevent them from even having the opportunity to vote for themselves. Nationwide, an estimated 5.3 million Americans are denied the right to vote for current or former felony convictions. Over two million of those Americans are denied the right to vote after having completed their sentence and parole or probation, for the rest of their lives.