Georgia Lawmaker Calls For Caning, Executing Marijuana Offenders

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 12, 2009

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

    State Republican lawmaker Tommy Benton (31st House District) favors “caning” minor marijuana offenders and “executing” those who sell the drug, according to a recent correspondence sent by the representative to a constituent.

    In a July 29, 2009 e-mail (which was voluntarily forwarded to the NORML office), Rep. Benton wrote: “Thanks for the email. We will have to agree to disagree on this and whether or not money is wasted (by mandating the state to prosecute minor marijuana offenders). I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I think we should go to caning for people caught using and maybe execute dealers. [emphasis NORML’s] That would solve the problem as well. That is what they do in Singapore and they don’t have a drug problem.”

    Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of up to 24 violent lashes with a long rattan cane that has been soaked in water. The procedure inflicts intense pain and deep, bloody lacerations that can take several months to heal.

    Rep. Benton followed up his remarks in a separate e-mail on August 11 (also forwarded to NORML) in which he threatened to turn over the names of citizens who disagreed with his political viewpoints to local law enforcement.

    He wrote: “You and your cronies want it (marijuana) legalized so you can get a hit anytime without having to worry about getting arrested. I have forwarded your email to the Lowndes County sheriffs [sic] office so that they can be on the lookout for you. [emphasis NORML’s] Consider this my last correspondence on the the [sic] subject to you or anyone else who shares your similar “conservative views’.”

    Benton was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2005.

    UPDATE from Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator – Please Don’t Threaten Rep. Benton! Just Vote Him Out of Office.

    Since we began covering the story of Georgia Rep. Tommy “Caning for Potheads” Benton on July 29, the story has spread like wildfire. We issued an official press release today and featured the story here and the NORML front page just yesterday and already the story has been covered from the libertarian/right Reason blog to the liberal/left TalkLeft blog.

    However, I am deeply disturbed at some of the nearly 250 comments the story has gotten at the NORML Blog. There are threats of assassinating, shooting, caning, and kicking the ass of Rep. Benton, as well as comparisons to Adolf Hitler. Some have even threatened his wife, children, and family dog and published Rep. Benton’s home telephone number (which I’ve scrubbed).

    Stop it! Rise above the level of people like Rep. Benton. Violence and threats of violence not only solve nothing and hurt our movement, but they may be actionable criminal acts.

    I understand the feelings of anger and desire for vengeance. For far too long our people have been intimidated, harassed, threatened, assaulted, imprisoned, and killed for our interaction with a plant. Far too many homes have been burst into by armor-clad assault-weapon-armed police. Our people have had our careers shattered, education thwarted, children taken, healthcare denied, civil rights abrogated, dogs murdered, property stolen and destroyed, and voting rights erased in this “Land of the Free” because we liked to use the hemp plant in the same way this country’s Founders did. Believe me, I report stories and read heartbreaking personal emails like this every day.

    I considered deleting these comments but have not (though my superiors may overrule me) because I do think they tap into the strong current of “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore” that runs through the cannabis community. Plus I am a strong advocate of free speech on our forums.

    But realize that this kind of reaction only empowers Rep. Benton within his community of hateful anti-pot zealots. “See,” he’ll crow to fellow prohibitionists, “smoking pot turns you into a raving violent psycho!” We’re better than that. Cannabis is supposed to be the peaceful plant. Do not sink to this man’s level. Fighting fire with fire only burns down everyone’s house and an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Fight this man with peace, education, and voting for his opponents in the primary or general election.

    618 Responses to “Georgia Lawmaker Calls For Caning, Executing Marijuana Offenders”

    1. Ol Hippie Mom says:

      How he could even open his mouth and say something so ignorant is beyond belief.. So sad that these are the people in control of our County. OK GEORGIA, THIS IS THE DEAL. HE HAS BEEN IN OFFICE SINCE 2005 AND HIS TERM EXPIRES IN THE GEORGIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE IN JAN OF 2013. REMEMBER THE NAME TOMMY BENTON FOLKS AND VOTE!!!

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    3. Big Dubie says:

      I’d like to tell this scumbag what I would like to do to him, but I’m afraid it would make people faint.

    4. TrojanBoyGA says:

      It’s anal gapes like Tommy Benton that pot looks bad. I agree with DaniBlue787 we need to keep douchers like this out of office.

    5. DaniBlue787 says:

      It is a shame people like this getting into office here, Ive lived and grown up in Ga all my life, I love this state, but this is one of the biggest prohibition states and I know when the time comes for marijuana legalization we’ll be near the end of the line in states to get it, until then we just got to try and keep guys like this out of office.

    6. makeanexampleofbenton says:

      rep. benton should be made an example of how an elected rep of his stature is thrown out of office come some election day when the vast majority of his base voters coming up are possibly going to be current or future pot smoking younger voters and baby boomers. Stick together because the older non smoking voters are dying off raising the odds as the years go by towards total legalization…. even in GA. especially as other great states show profits from there sucsessful regulation of medical mj and even state wide integration of this lifestyle and its potential prosperity for state coffers. Big mistake talking about a future cash cow of the state of Al like that. twenty years from now, this incident will be laughed at

    7. Stupid American Citizen says:

      The idea of EXECUTING SOMEONE WHO SELLS MARIJUANA baffles me beyond belief. The fact that somebody in 2009 thought it might be a productive modern policy…? I feel like I’m going insane. What country is this again?

      Way to go, Georgians…

    8. Smokepot Daily says:

      Dear Mary;

      I suspect most responses to your post have been too over the top to print. None of us wishes any offence. But I shall endeavor to save face by explaining to the folks that don’t know, that you are not entirely without the right to express your opinion, however, when your opinion amounts to spreading racism, religious hostility toward those of other faiths, or favouring the absurdly wrong practices like torture and interfering with freedoms of other to believe and practice whatever does no harm to others, you are a bigot. Perhaps you hadn’t realized you are a bigot because the society you grew up condoned the casual use of racial slurs or demeaning people because of their personal sexual choices. Bigots hate others who are what they are not. Intolerance WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Bigots are not acceptable to society.
      You said,“Anyone that does is a selfish self centered jerk off”, Now, is that a nice way to talk? It sounds like something a self centered jerk off would say, doesn’t it? Perhaps you are just in need of a toke to raise your cannabinoids Perhaps I am one, too, but I know a lot of people who use pot, and they are not all like me. I am here to help you. It appears you have been misinformed, which for those of us “in the business’ as they say for thirty seven years now, I have to assure you we are in possession of more than just a controlled substance. We are in possession of the Truth. I am long term study in my own right, but I have also digested the case studies of thousands, and am quite confident in responding that, unequivocally, what you have been taught your whole life about marijuana being bad for you is a lie.

      The good ladies at MADD, (Mothers against Drunk Driving) are good people. Many of them have lost loved ones to impaired driving. My own best friend, his fiancé and three of the wedding party were killed when a drunk in truck crossed the line a few days before the wedding. I have no mercy personally, for those who dare drink and drive. However, you have been misinformed about this, that marijuana impairs the ability to drive as alcohol does. It does not. Unlike alcohol, the International Olympic Committee has marijuana classed as a ‘performance enhancing substance’, while booze is not. If pot were legal, people wouldn’t suddenly change their lives and start driving with a buzz on, they already do! Always have and will, legal or not, we hear about lots of booze related accidents but as our friends and first responders at LEAP will attest to, that is not the case with marijuana. If a demonstration is required I would be happy to smoke two joints for every drink and we’ll do the obstacle course, or if precision mental acuity is in question a game of chess should solve your query’s there. I would even make myself available for testing as a long term case subject. The only negative consequences of smoking marijuana in my life have been directly from prohibition.

      Prohibitionists are Bigots pure and simple. They must be taught to mind their own business. We need to make it socially unacceptable to interfere with anybody’s Right to believe and practice whatever does no harm to others, anywhere. Everywhere. As for escaping reality, let alone being cowards, millions of marijuana users are jailed for their beliefs and practices every year. As a friend was fond of saying, ‘Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.’ of course we were kidding around, but with perfectly law abiding people, other than the fact they choose to use, are being persecuted and lives destroyed, and have never harmed anyone, doesn’t this reality need escaping?

      Don’t assume something is wrong with someone just because they believe or practice something different to what you accustomed to yourself. Newsflash; God doesn’t punish the persecuted, but persecutor gets his reward.. SAFER is dedicated to promoting Marijuana and even the highest ranking bodies of many governments advocate repeal of prohibition.

      “The continued PROHIBITION of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians MUCH MORE than does the substance itself.”

      • Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, 2002

      It is NOT addictive as has been claimed. It doesn’t make you lazy or stupid, or any of the other stereotypes in the propaganda. I Bogarted two cannons before I wrote this, do I appear to have any of the characteristics you listed in your statement of your opinion?

      There has never been any demonstrable justification for prohibition in the first place and it is therefore unconstitutional

      People who smoke it religiously are being illegally discriminated against. Some people believe Moses inhaled before he heard the voice of God. You may believe otherwise, however we are to do unto others as we are to have done to ourselves, how would you like it if some one with a gun said you were no longer allowed to enter in to your way of belief or practice?

      Freedom of everyone to believe and practice whatever does no harm to others must become universal

      Something may be wrong with me, that’s what I smoke the pot for. It would be wrong to take medicine away from anyone who needs it, or to make any other person suffer harm or hurt in any way. Do no harm. Cannabis prohibition is harmful. There is also something wrong a person who is unaware of the benefits of anything who puts their energy into forbidding others the right to do as they please.

      You are cool, really, aren’t you, Mary? You don’t want to be a bigot like those good people who didn’t know any better when they burned crosses on the lawns of black families, do you Mary? As for being selfish, in my experience, marijuana users are exactly the opposite. Whenever you see one, don’t be shy, chances are, they will share with you. God bless Mary. Namaste everyone

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