President Obama answering questions from the American public via a Google   hangout.
President Obama answering questions from the American public via a Google hangout.

President Barack Obama failed to answer a penetrating question about marijuana legislation in an online "Your Interview with the President" - despite it being voted one of the most important to ask by online pundits.

Obama was slated to answer the most popular questions submitted by users of Google +. Before they were put to him, the questions were voted on to select the ones that would be asked on the Google + "hangout".

Retired Los Angeles policeman Stephen Downing asked if there were any plans to decriminalise marijuana - a question that garnered 4,500 votes to make it the second most popular submitted question.

But it was not asked during the online interview.

"According to the Gallup Poll, the number of Americans who support legalising and regulating marijuana now outnumbers those who support continuing prohibition. What do you say to this growing voter constituency that wants more changes to drug policy than you have delivered in your first term?" asked Downing, who is a member of Law Enforcers Against Prohibtion (Leap).

Overall, 18 of the 20 most popular questions submitted by voters via YouTube were about the "war on drugs" or marijuana legislation, but Obama did not answer a single one during the 50-minute interview. Questions were asked on trivial subjects - about playing tennis, eating Snickers late at night and his upcoming wedding anniversary

A disclaimer on the original site where the public submitted their questions said that Obama and the White House were not responsible for question selection and did not see the questions prior to the interview. But Leap claimed that either Google or YouTube had censored awkward questions.

Downing said: "It's worse than silly that YouTube and Google would waste the time of the president and of the American people discussing things like midnight snacks and playing tennis when there is a much more pressing question on the minds of the people who took the time to participate in voting on submissions.

"A majority of Americans now support legalising marijuana to de-fund cartels and gangs, lower incarceration and arrest rates and save scarce public resources, all while generating new much-needed tax revenue.

"The time to discuss this issue is now. We're tired of this serious public policy crisis being pushed aside or laughed off."

During an online interview last year with the public, Obama responded to one question by another member from Leap and said drug legalisation was "an entirely legitimate topic for debate" although he was not in favour of decriminilisation.