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Oh The Irony: Speaker Of The House John Boehner Continues To Support Marijuana Prohibition

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director September 15, 2011

    Unlike Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen (who favors America having a fair and constitutionally consistent cannabis policy…), the current Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, simply does not get how hypocritical he is by favoring another 74 years of the failed federal Cannabis Prohibition, while at the same time, being a frequent consumer (and longtime political ally) of far more dangerous and deadly drugs like alcohol and tobacco.

    A NORML supporter from Ohio named Todd recently used NORML’s webpage to contact his elected representative in Congress, who just so happens to be the Speaker of the House John Boehner, to encourage him to become a co-sponsor of the Ron Paul/Barney Frank bill to allow states to legalize cannabis for responsible adult use.

    What Todd did was exactly what tens of thousands of other like-minded NORML supporters have done since late June, when H.R. 2306 was introduced: they contacted their member of Congress and asked them to support the passage of H.R. 2306.

    What cannabis reformers and consumers really need to do now is to send hundreds of thousands of letters and emails to their members of Congress, and to, like Todd, not take ‘no’ for an answer, especially from hypocrites like Speaker Boehner, who maybe one of the capital’s most notorious tobacco addicts and consumer of hard liquor.

    Roll Call photo from a Sept. 2010 event capturing then Minority Leader John Boehner using society's most deadly and addictive drug: Tobacco

    Last October at a fancy Washington restaurant in a section of town called ‘Barracks Row’, a week or so before his ascendency to the Speakership of the House, High Times’ associate publisher Rick Cusick and I watched Mr. Boehner (and five or six of his fellow Republican colleagues from the House, and one from the Senate) continuously leave their table–after rounds of shot glasses of hard liquor were consumed–to stand out in front of the establishment in a circle to smoke cigarettes. We witnessed this kind of excessive ‘drug’ consumption from Congressional leaders for over two hours.

    Mr. Boehner, the son of a bar owner in Ohio, needs to get real and quick regarding losing his Reefer Madness about cannabis and to start treating cannabis consumers with the same respect and dignity that he wants afforded to him as a tobacco and alcohol consumer.

    If not, then, based on his unscientific and non-sensible reply to his constituent in Ohio found below, the man should 1.) stop buying and consuming clearly deadly and dangerous drugs like hard booze and cigarettes and 2.) pass federal laws banning these unhealthy and unsafe products from people who’d be foolish enough to consume them.

    NORML thanks ‘Todd’ from Ohio for being a stand up cannabis law reformer who is not keen to be governed by a hypocrite (who would have him consume drugs much, much less safe—and toxic—than cannabis. Just like him….).

    Boehner writes below: “I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug.  I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”

    Maybe the Speaker of the House is speaking for himself here as both the science and my own personal experience is crystal clear here: When adults consume cannabis products they consume less—or no—alcohol products.

    I, for one, have always publicly acknowledged that I consume far less alcohol (and don’t binge drink at all) if I have access to cannabis products.

    Further, in the twenty years I’ve worked at NORML and convening dozens of major pro-reform conferences, fundraising parties and events I’ve watched bar managers, restaurant owners and hotel catering managers from coast-to-coast do major double and triple takes on our alcohol consumption bills, insisting that there must be some kind of billing error. When, in fact, if 500 cannabis consumers are attending a NORML soiree, we as a group consume 50%-75% less alcohol than similar size events.

    At a large and famous San Francisco waterfront restaurant that hosted a NORML event a few years back, when I went into the manager’s office at the end of the night to settle the final bill and remit payment, he too was flabbergasted at the dearth of our large group’s alcohol consumption tab and wryly remarked to me: “No wonder ya’ll can’t get pot legalized, because, you’ll cut too deeply into the alcohol industry’s bottom line.”

    Please join Todd and tens of thousands of other citizens who do not support Cannabis Prohibition anymore by contacting your member of Congress and insist that they co-sponsor H.R. 2306.

    The process to lobby your member of Congress is easy, free and necessary to finally—and once and for all—end Cannabis Prohibition in America.

    Wed, Aug 24, 2011 at 1:19 PM, Congressman John Boehner wrote:

    Dear Todd:

    Thank you for contacting me regarding the legalization of marijuana.  I appreciate hearing from you.

    On June 23, 2011, Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced H.R. 2306, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011.  H.R. 2306 would remove marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to provide states with jurisdiction in the regulation of marijuana.  H.R. 2306 has been referred to the House Committees on the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce for consideration.

    According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), “research shows that marijuana use in its raw form is harmful and its average potency has tripled in the past 20 years.”  ONDCP goes on to say that “studies also show teens are using the drug at earlier ages and the earlier a person begins to use drugs, the more likely they are to progress to more serious abuse and addiction.”  In addition, the Department of Health and Human Services stated that “marijuana dependence in the U.S. population is higher than that for any other illicit drug and over 150,000 people who showed up voluntarily at treatment facilities in 2009 reported marijuana as their primary substance of abuse.”

    As you know, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has classified marijuana, together with heroin, LSD, methamphetamines, hashish, and a number of other drugs as Schedule I drugs.  According to the FDA, these drugs carry a high potential for dangerous abuse.  To date, no clinical study of marijuana has progressed to the level required for approval by the FDA.  Even more, the Department of Justice has reiterated its intent to enforce the Controlled Substances Act in states who have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes.

    I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug.  I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.

    Thank you again for contacting me with your thoughts.  Please don’t hesitate to inform me of your concerns in the future.  To sign up for email updates, I invite you to visit my website at http://johnboehner.house.gov.

    Sincerely,

    John A. Boehner

    *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *          *

    Dear John Boehner,

    Wow thats a mouthful did someone write that for you.  Your seriously trying to tell me that marijuana is as harmful as lsd, crack, methamphetamines, cocaine,legal sildenafil,merinol and other “chemicals” when marijuana is a plant which is nearly impossible to overdose. You sir are uninformed as are most of our “representatives”, who, are supposed to represent the interest of the people, but end up representing their own interests entirely. I would think that given our current economic crisis, it would be ideal to look objectively at every opportunity to decrease frivolous spending, and increase revenue. By legalizing and taxing marijuana on a federal level, the taxes alone are estimated at billions of dollars annually. Given the annual cost of the failed war on drugs and incarcerated nonviolent marijuana users, the annual savings plus revenue could reach in the hundreds of billions of dollarsNot to mention the tens of thousands of jobs legalizing marijuana would create. This is common sense knowledge and neither you nor the “F.D.A.” can tell me otherwise.

    As for your statement ” I remain concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.” Please elaborate as I do not understand how the legalization and regulation of marijuana on a federal level, will result in increased abuse of other drugs and alcohol. Regulating marijuana will not only decrease it’s availability on the black market, but will also decrease its value, therefore being less available, and of less interest, to teens and other underage people.

    On the subject of the Department of Health and Human Services statement that “marijuana dependence in the U.S. population is higher than that for any other illicit drug and over 150,000 people who showed up voluntarily at treatment facilities in 2009 reported marijuana as their primary substance of abuse.” What this statement does not tell you is that roughly 97% of these 150,000 people “voluntarily” showed up because they were given an ultimatum by the courts when found in possesion of marijuana, rather than face probation, or even worse, jail time.

    How about the statement made by Francis Young, the D.E.A.s’ own judge, ”Marijuana in it’s natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”  If marijuana is considered a schedule I narcotic with no medicinal benefits, why do we have Marinol, the  synthetic form of T.H.C. (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main psycoactive substance found in marijuana?.  And why is the “chemical” Marinol a schedule III drug, meaning it is considered to be non-narcotic and to have a low risk of physical or mental dependence, when it is another form of T.H.C.?. There has never been a documented human fatality from overdosing on tetrahydrocannabinol or cannabis in its natural form. However, the synthetic T.H.C. pill Marinol was cited by the FDA as being responsible for 4 of the 11,687 deaths from 17 different FDA approved drugs between January 1, 1997 to June 30, 2005.

    I would appreciate a personal response from you, rather than one of your pre-writen responses. Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,

    Todd

    107 Responses to “Oh The Irony: Speaker Of The House John Boehner Continues To Support Marijuana Prohibition”

    1. [...] occasional tobacco consumer and home brewer–along with the Speaker of the House John Boehner (a well-known tobacco and alcohol consumer), can responsibly engage in these adult-oriented activities, while at the same time providing ample [...]

    2. Thomas says:

      Makes me wonder if alcohol/tobacco companies helped fund his campaign. Because then he would be pressured into marijuana prohibition through the threat of losing funds.

    3. mr. clean says:

      Hi all, Thx Todd for speaking up! Something more of us should do, and not only about pot…
      While I rarely in any mind altering substances due to my own lifestyle choices, i believe that as adults who are responsible and held accountable in every other aspect of our lives, that we should at least have the option of seeking enjoyment and fulfillment any way we see fit as long as it doesnt infringe on the well being of others (something US capitalist jugornaut could take some lessons in) My primary concern is that given our current economic situation, we need to STOP THE KID SHIT and look objectively at every opportunity available to save our sinking ship! Come on congress/corporate yes men, haven’t you made enough money at the expence of what was once a great nation of hardworking Americans. Boehner’s a jackass clearly trying to avoid rocking the boat to appease his uber conservative and ultra greedy base while lining his pockets in the process.
      My question regarding the leagalization of marijuana is: “Since integrity in congress is so few and far between, why dont we beat them at their own game. How do we get the FDA to simply remove Marijuana from schedule 1 list to where it belongs? What is the process holding that agency accountable and what is the appeal process?” If I designed a new food or drug, there must be some application and appeal process to get it approved, right? Just currious, anyone have suggestions?

    4. Greg says:

      I’m sad to say that the Petition to Grant a Full Pardon to all those arrested for marijuana only related offenses isn’t getting the attention it deserves. While I’ve seen a dramatic flux of people rushing to sign the Regulate and Tax in a Manner similar to Alcohol petition (and am very happy to see the number rise greatly every time I look in on it), I’d like to see more people standing up for the folks who have put there lives and liberty on the line for the cause. After all, SOMEONE HAD TO GROW THAT BEAUTIFUL HERB YOU’RE ENJOYING AND NOW THEY NEED US. To those of you who have taken the time to add your name, I’m very grateful. Thank you for understanding you have a civic duty and doing that duty in true patriotic fashion. For those of you still sitting on your hands I’d like to remind you that NEVER in the history of our nation has it been so SIMPLE and EASY to make your voice heard. So stand up and take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity.

      Please take a moment to follow this link and sign the petition which requests that all those arrested for marijuana only related offenses to be granted a full pardon. In addition to releasing those currently incarcerated, this would also reinstate the rights lost by those with previous convictions, such as the right to vote. Here’s the link: http://wh.gov/gRZ. Thanks for your support.

      In addition, there is also a petition on the WhiteHouse.gov site which calls to Allow Industrial Hemp to AGAIN be grown in the U.S. This, too, is a very important issue within the legalization movement and approaches the subject from a perspective entirely separate from the medical/recreational aspect. Please also take a moment to add your name to show your support.

      Again, thank you for standing up and doing your part. After all, a government of the people, for the people, and by the people only works if the people work it. Signing a petition is a dramatic far cry from the long marches and bloody battles our ancestors had to partake in to gain the freedoms we (used to) enjoy. If you’re too lazy to exert such little effort for liberty then you don’t deserve it!

    5. BobKat says:

      It’s been reported in major news statements, and is obvious for anyone who is interested in politics, that there exist a majority proportion of Congressional Reps that are making decisions based on Principal, rather than informed objectivity.

      As “The People”, we have some important reforms in mind that are not selfish, but rather are for the betterment of society. We recognize not only that the “War on Drugs” is a colossal failure, that harms millions of people every year, but that the current “drug strategy” is flawed. Seriously flawed!

      We were enticed with House Reform Bill 2306 that would make cannabis legal on the federal level, yet we can see our Representatives are both both ignoring it, and using their own principles to defend their ignorance. There is nothing objective about the way our elected officials make or reform laws. There is nothing in the way of common-sense involved in their decisions, their actions.

      We seem backed into a corner, where we’ve been for too long. It is a good thing that our service men and women no longer have to fear being gay, with the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”. A victory for those of us who are gay, in the sense of human rights and dignity. All in what seems like 20 years, though eons longer, but all told, a significant change in US law and policy.

      Now, if we could only find a way to enlighten our elected officials on current and long existing laws pertaining to recreational drug use, and cannabis in particular!

      I’m surprised the Tea Party, from I’ve read, pro-anti-prohibition. I have read nothing to indicate their efforts to end the War. In fact, what I’ve heard, is that they believe cannabis use is drug use and that drug use is banned in the Bible. When in fact, if true, drug use is not even mentioned, and cannabis is addressed in Genesis, and is quite acceptable for our use of plants. So where the Tea Party stands, continues to be murky, but I must believe they aren’t any more rational than politicians from the past. A right wing fringe group that is seeking a government stripped of entitlements to the poor and middle-class, and rich in benefits to Wall Street, and hefty returns on their investments… a Yuppie Tea Party, in fact.

      That aside… this War on Cannabis has to end. It is far too destructive to let it continue.First, cannabis laws and penalties have no basis in reality. It’s a crude, harmful joke to anyone busted for cannabis. It is unconstitutional and in opposition to one’s personal rights. The basic foundation used to support prohibition is deeply flawed, and not based on science or the rules of fair-play. No one should be a criminal or in prison for the use of, growing of, distribution of cannabis. It is a plant.

      A couple replies to comments I’ve seen here and on other websites.

      1) The munchies. There is a concern given our obese trend, that cannabis will contribute to this trend. Actually, if you Google it, you’ll find studies that indicate cannabis use has a tendency to reduce on’s weight. My theory is it satisfies certain brain receptors, and one doesn’t store as much fat from stress.

      2) Smoking cannabis is worse than smoking tobacco. Cannabis burns hotter, that’s about the only real issue. But there are ways to reduce the heat. Also one can eat cannabis, which one can’t do with tobacco. The effects of cannabis when smoked is the opposite than the smoke from tobacco, in that tobacco constricts the airways, exacerbating asthma, whereas cannabis dilates the airways, improving asthmatic symptoms. Sure there is a tendency to cough when holding in cannabis smoke – it is smoke, it is hot, and it is causing expansion of your air-sacs.

      3) People can’t be allowed to grow their own cannabis as it would not only be dangerous, unregulated, but easy for children to have access to it. And you think the water we drink is necessarily safe??? You can’t OD on cannabis. Sure there are cannabis blights and diseases, but most home gardeners know when a plant is sick. Ever heard of rotten tomatoes? As for the THC content, the consumer is not put in jeopardy if their plants achieve a 25% THC level, as compared to a 5% level. Most cannabis users would simply use less, and if they get to high, they’ll likely fall asleep in a lounge chair, rather than go off in a drunken race around the lake. And lastly, like adults can be trusted to keep kids and teens from snagging a cigarette or raiding the liquor cabinet? Cannabis is safer… and adults should do more to safeguard their children against hazardous substances. Enforcing laws that make adult use of cannabis a serious crime makes no sense if protecting children is the issue. The most dangerous substances are legal!!! Adults need to learn to act responsibly… and current laws against cannabis have no bearing on that fact!

      The Cannabis Spring is HERE! Stop the Hurt and keep writing to your Representatives, post your comments everywhere, and fight, this peaceful fight to reform our drug laws.

    6. [...] Oh The Irony: Speaker Of The House John Boehner Continues To Support Marijuana Prohibition [...]

    7. [...] 12 co-sponsors, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), it is virtually doomed to die in committee due to House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) opposition to any form of liberalization on marijuana — in spite of his well-known fondness for alcohol [...]

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