President Barack Obama's new ad featuring stoner duo Harold and Kumar drew accusations of hypocrisy on Tuesday from critics who note that the beloved potheads could easily be arrested under the White House's current drug policy. Now drug policy reformers are out with a parody ad that depicts what might actually happen if the president spontaneously dialed up a pair of marijuana users to ask for their support.
While the president's original ad was meant to promote the appearance at the Democratic National Convention of actor Kal Penn, a former White House staffer who plays the character of Kumar in the eponymous film series "Harold and Kumar," pot advocates saw an opportunity to hammer the president for his marijuana policy.
"Wow, hi, Mr. President," says the actor playing Harold in the parody ad. "I didn't think you'd call after you dismissed or mocked all of the questions about marijuana that I submitted on WhiteHouse.gov."
In the original ad, the comically zoned-out pair of stoners laugh at cartoons and eat junk food after the president asks if he can count on them.
In the parody, the pot user offers a more sobering response. "You're counting on marijuana users to fall for a lame political video designed to exploit us while your administration simultaneously supports arresting us and raiding our homes?"
As for actually speaking to Kumar, the president never gets that far. "Did you say you're looking for Kumar? Oh, he's gone. He was arrested, like the other 850,000 people who are arrested each year under your administration's policies. Maybe you can help him look for a house or a job when he gets out? Finding those things can be really hard when you're burdened with a drug conviction."
(The arrest figure is borne out by the FBI's 2010 Uniform Crime Report.)
The video, which ends with a scene from a violent police raid, was compiled by Shaleen Title, formerly a staffer for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and Chris Wallis, an alum of Students For Sensible Drug Policy in Ohio.
Obama press secretary Ben LaBolt has declined to address hypocrisy charges directly, telling TPM's Benjy Sarlin that the ad was meant to appeal to the youth vote by focusing on Penn.
Penn himself told Yahoo's Chris Moody that the president's marijuana policy has been "consistent."
But the contradiction wasn't lost on third-party presidential candidate Gary Johnson, who on Tuesday attacked the president's marijuana policy at a rally in Charlotte.
"Playing on the popularity of a couple of well-known TV 'stoners' is shameless," Johnson's press secretary, Joe Hunter, told The Huffington Post, "given that this is the same president who doesn't want Americans to have access to medical marijuana, and who, had he been caught and arrested for his admitted marijuana use, probably would not be president today."
"I was shocked that the President would joke about marijuana when his administration's policies on marijuana have been devastating," added Title in an email to HuffPost. "As a drug policy activist and lawyer, I see horror stories every day, often young people whose lives are ruined by a drug conviction for a small amount of marijuana."