More Signs Of Change From Capitol Hill
It’s not just members of the public and political pundits who are daring to speak the words ‘marijuana’ and ‘legalization’ in the same breath. Even in Washington, DC, calls to regulate cannabis are growing progressively louder — as today’s headline in The Hill indicates.
The leader of a congressional effort to reform the criminal justice system said Thursday that all issues — including drug legalization — need to be on the table.
Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who has made criminal justice and prison reform a signature issue of his this year in Congress, is the most high-profile lawmaker to indicate openness to drug decriminalization or outright legalization.
“Well, I think what we need to do is to put all of the issues on the table,” Webb said this morning on CNN if asked if marijuana legalization would be part of his criminal justice reform efforts.
“If you go back to 1980 as a starting point, I think we had 40,000 people in prison on drug charges, and today, we have about 500,000 of them,” the first-term Virginia lawmaker said. “And the great majority of those are nonviolent crimes — possession crimes or minor sales.”
NORML praised Senator Webb for his candor and political courage earlier this month when we endorsed Senate Bill 714, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act of 2009. If you have not yet written or called your U.S. Senator in support of SB 714, what are you waiting for?
Fortunately, Senator Webb is not the only member of Congress speaking out in favor of pot law reform. Other recent examples include:
California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez suggests on CNN that the federal government should allow California to establish a “pilot program” taxing and regulating the use of marijuana by adults. (Watch the video of her remarks here.)
U.S. House Representative Ron Paul (Texas) tells CNN that the use and distribution of pot should be regulated by the states, and that ending prohibition would dramatically decrease prohibition-related violence at the U.S./Mexican border. (Watch the video of his remarks here.)
Congressmen Dana Rohrabacher (California) and Jim McDermott (Washington), speaking in The Hill (“Pot legalization favored by some to stem violence,” April 19) declare, “[F]rom a social policy, I don’t see any reason not to legalize it, control it, sell it, [and] tax it (marijuana).”
And in the ‘sign of how far we’ve come, but how far we still have to go’ department, there’s this admission from Rep. Rohrabacher:
“There are a lot of people who understand that [the current war on drugs has been a failure]. … If it was a vote – a blind vote where nobody knew who was voting – you would have overwhelming support for legalizing marijuana out there, but they will never vote for it because they are afraid of taking on a controversial issue.”
Hmmm, sounds to me like a whole lot more people need to write and call their members of Congress and tell them: Marijuana law reform is not a politically controversial issue, but opposing it is. April 23, 2009