More Signs Of Change From Capitol Hill

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 23, 2009

    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.

    Webb: Pot legalization ‘on the table’ in prison reform effort
    via The Hill

    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.

    And while you’re at it, why not write President Barack “legalizing marijuana is off the table” Obama and give him the same message.

    86 responses to “More Signs Of Change From Capitol Hill”

    1. Ga Sunshine says:

      Start writing and ask any and everyone you know to write also. They will write and legalization will come. I asked 12 people to join Norml on 4/20 and all but one did it. None of them smoke cannabis, but they support the “Change” we are seeking. Just ask!!! I would suggest putting a copy of your voters registration card at the top of the page, so they know you are a registered voter and if you are not registered, then get registered! By the way when can we find out how much money we raised on 4/20 with the membership drive?

    2. Cam says:

      looks like our message is finally reaching the higher people in the political ring.
      I still strongly believe that we need to get more people politically out onto the new’s network’s.
      I’m all for instituting collecting donations to pay for buses in large area’s of the country to gather together enough people around the country for a 2009 “Million Man March” on Washington’s doorsteps.
      ad’s are nice but an extremely large gathering of people would be better for getting our message thru.

    3. Change? says:

      All the more reason to vote for Ron Paul for pres in 2012!!

    4. Christopher says:

      It is look up, but we do have so far to go. Its obvious that most politicians are simply scared to even touch the issue. I hope some of this wakes people up.

    5. Craig says:

      Senator Webb, obviously one of our bravest Senators, deserves all of our support. He also has the ‘quiet’ support of President Obama. We are about to win this fight, but we need to all help Senator Webb in this endeavor.

      As a Virginian and University student, I am trying to get in contact with Jim Webb to see what I can do to help. You all should too. Republicans will gang up on him when his re-election comes up. He needs us.

    6. Sean says:

      The only thing most congressman or woman understand is money, give them a huge contribution and tell them your only issue is marijuana.

    7. Phil E. Drifter says:

      I REALLY wish people would stop calling it ‘marijuana,’ as I’ve explained before; ‘marihuana’ was a foreign word, Mexican Spanish, but we already have an english word for it: cannabis.

      It’s like everyone constantly using the same foreign word instead of it’s english equal. Imagine if everyone you worked with said ‘see you tomorrow, I’m going casa.’ Harry Anslinger used a foreign word to dupe a gullible Congress into outlawing the nation’s #1 renewable resource for hundreds of years: cannabis/hemp.

      Mr. Snell: What is the bill?

      Mr. Rayburn: It has something to do with something that is called marihuana. I believe it is a narcotic of some kind.

      -Colloquy on the House floor prior to passage of the Marihuana Tax Act. (1937)

      If they legalized cannabis they’d never be able to replace slave labor with prison labor, slave labor being outlawed after the north won the Civil War in 1865. Read tinyurl.com/1mn for details.

      To the fine folks at NORML: I think a ‘preview’ button would help for people (everyone) who sometimes forget to close tags resulting in entire paragraphs being bolded/italicized/hotlinked.etc.

    8. Vladimir M. Ortega says:

      Go Jim Webb change the laws in VIRGINIA….
      Let my people out of jail….
      They did nothing wrong to you….They just wanted to relax and have some PEACE!

    9. Dylan says:

      This is great news!

    10. CKDK29 says:

      Obama says Marijuana legalization is off the table but i like the sounds of that bill 714 We r sooo close to gett n this done