Why Are Top Political Leaders From Both Parties So Out-Of-Touch With The Public’s Demand For Marijuana Law Reform?
It is hard to imagine liberal House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and conservative Minority Leader John Boehner as soul mates on any discernible level, however, on the issue of marijuana law reform, for entirely different reasons, they’re two peas in a pod.
Shortly after the conclusion of this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Denver, NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano posted a blog highlighting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) comments exhorting the public to take the lead on communicating with their elected policymakers regarding any desired major marijuana law reforms in the upcoming 111th Congress.
With that call to action in the minds of many, American voters elected Democrats into workable majorities in both chambers and elected Barack ‘Change’ Obama—while voters in both Massachusetts and Michigan voted in strong favor for ‘change’ regarding their states’ antiquated marijuana laws—when given the chance and medium to express their viewpoint regarding what other ‘changes’ are on the American peoples’ minds, since the mid 1990s and despite strong, bias media opposition, marijuana law reform has emerged as a major policy change sought by the American public.
House Speaker Pelosi supports medical access to marijuana. That is not in question. However, it is not known whether she publicly endorses decriminalizing marijuana, but, as a longtime representative in the House from San Francisco, she likely supports California laws regarding marijuana, notably the state’s long time decriminalization laws for personal, adult use.
Does she have the power to move medical marijuana through the Congress? Yes, likely she does. Is she going to expend the kind of political capital needed so early in the 111th Congress and this ‘New Dealish’ presidency to accomplish this? I don’t believe so.
Well now, to make matters worse, we have the Republican Minority Leader, John Boehner (R-OH), appearing last Friday afternoon on CNN’s Newsticker, in a Digg-sponsored ‘Question and Answer’, not surprisingly, the #1 question put forward by CNN/Diggers was of course about…marijuana!
Mr. Boehner’s reply on the marijuana prohibition question (which appears at the 3:15 mark of the 22 minute video) is tortured on two levels:
–Boehner’s deference to law enforcement and medical trade associations rather than to his constituents’ views, the Constitution, science, free market values and personal responsibility is, in a word, unfortunate:
–While rattling off DEA-like talking points against marijuana, Rep. Boehner seems to remember mid-rant against marijuana that he 1) often claims to be a libertarian who favors limited taxation, controlling government spending, and maximizing entrepreneurialism and personal freedoms, 2) supports the 9th and 10th Amendments, which largely articulate states’ rights to make their own constitutional laws.
Too bad Boehner has consistently voted against the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment, a spending amendment in Congress that sought to check federal law enforcement’s ability to spend tax dollars harassing state compliant medical marijuana cooperative and dispensaries, and, in effect, recognizing states’ ability to craft greater legal protections for medical cannabis patients and their providers.
After watching Boehner’s verbal gymnastics and political CYA, I could have used a naturally occurring anti-emetic, if you know what I mean!
A Congressional Cannabis Conundrum
The most powerful legislator in the United States, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi supports medical access to marijuana, but will not soon likely do anything to solve this long festering public health-law enforcement quandary, and the most powerful Republican legislator in the country is a chain-smoking, libertarian-talking prohibitionist.
The general public who support marijuana law reform (which is about 75% for both decriminalization and medical access) and many members from the working media inquire with NORML daily, ‘Why does marijuana prohibition continue despite its obvious failings?’
Regrettably, one need only point to this single, but poignant example, demonstrated by this Pelosi-Boehner cannabis conundrum: Leaders who will not lead.*
*Even when they very likely know better and the American people (common sense, economics and decency) demand it! January 27, 2009