The Hill: “Failed Marijuana Policies Are a Bi-Partisan Boondoggle”

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director September 22, 2010

    Texas GOP drug warrior Rep. Lamar Smith (21st District) lashed out at the Obama administration yesterday on Fox News (Watch the video here.) — claiming that the President is ‘soft’ on pot and is refusing to enforce federal drug laws. But as I opine in today’s edition of The Hill.com’s Congress blog, Congressman Smith is fundamentally wrong on both counts.

    Failed marijuana policies are a bi-partisan boondoggle
    via The Hill

    [excerpt: read the full text here]

    Law enforcement officials prosecuted a near-record 858,408 persons for violating marijuana laws in 2009 – the first year of the Obama presidency. That total is the second highest annual number of pot prosecutions ever recorded in the United States.

    According to the arrest data, made public last week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some 88 percent (758,593 Americans) of those charged with marijuana violations were prosecuted for possession only. The remaining 99,815 individuals were charged with “sale/manufacture,” a category that includes virtually all cultivation offenses.

    Does any rational person really think that arresting and prosecuting nearly one million Americans annually for their use of a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol exemplifies a ‘soft’ – or better yet, sound – public policy?

    Rep. Smith further claims that the administration has abdicated the enforcement of federal drug laws in the fourteen states that have legalized the physician-supervised use of marijuana since 1996. Not so. Despite promises from the U.S. Attorney General to respect the laws of these 14 states, the September 21 edition of DC’s Daily Caller reports that just the opposite is taking place.

    In an article entitled, ‘DEA, DOJ stay mum on medical marijuana raids,’ reporter Mike Riggs states: “Despite campaign promises to the contrary, the Department of Justice under President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder hasn’t stopped raiding marijuana dispensaries operating in states where sale of the drug is legal for medical purposes. But the DOJ has demonstrated one marked change now that it’s under Democratic control: The department has stopped publicizing medical marijuana raids, both by requesting that more cases be sealed under court order and by refusing to distribute press releases.”

    The story goes on to cite details of over a dozen recent federal raids of medical marijuana providers in California, Colorado, Michigan, and Nevada – all states that have approved the cultivation and possession of medical marijuana.

    Of course, if the stricter enforcement of marijuana laws – as Rep. Lamar advocates – was really the solution to curbing Americans’ appetite for pot then how does one explain this? Since 1965, police have arrested over 21 million Americans for violating marijuana laws; yet according to the World Health Organization more Americans consume marijuana than do citizens of any other country in the world.

    Rather than scapegoating the new administration, which has done little to alter longstanding U.S. marijuana policy, Rep. Smith ought to reconsider the past 40 years of failed drug war policies. … It is time to replace failed marijuana prohibition with a system of legalization, sensible regulation, taxation, and education.

    The Hill’s ever-popular Congress blog ‘is where lawmakers come to blog.’ It’s also where legislators and other politicos come to gauge the pulse of the public. Given that this is a paper of record on Capitol Hill, why not send Rep. Smith and his colleagues a message that their anti-marijuana rhetoric is woefully out of touch with voter sentiment? You can make your voice heard by leaving your feedback here.

    If you live in Texas (particularly if you live in the 21st District, which includes the cities of Austin, San Marcos, Kerrville, and San Antonio), you can also contact Rep. Smith directly here.

    36 responses to “The Hill: “Failed Marijuana Policies Are a Bi-Partisan Boondoggle””

    1. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      When Mr. Smith comes down with some form of cancer that is untreatable using conventional methods, or the treatment for that cancer has such has devastating side affects, and conventional methods for those side affects don’t work for him, he may wish that he lived in a state where MMJ is legal. Then there is always the passibility that he will suffer an injury that leaves him in dibiliting pain. Then he may have to make a choice, become addicted to an opiate based pain killer, or break a law that he supports through ignorance of the truth. May sound a bit mean spirited on my part, but one can only hope.

    2. Joe "Ironman" Siler says:

      Mr. Smith you mention “experts”. Please tell us just what “experts” are you talking about. It would seem to me that when the American College of Physicians supports the legalization of medical cannabis, and the AMA has requested that cannabis be removed from its Schedule 1 status so that serious research can be done to determine its curative properties, there can’t be many “experts” left.

    3. Ziggy says:

      That was a waste of hot air. This is a person who thinks that fighting the “good old drug war” fight is going to win him friends and help in influence people. IMHO, these people are slowly becoming dinosaurs, you see less and less of them around, and you see a lot more push back… even on Fox occasionally.

      You know what, when California build 23 prisons in the same span it builds 1 University, I’d say what we’re doing isn’t working.

      I’d also say that the police know full well that if you remove the high market prices of illegal drugs by making consumption legal and granting access, all of a sudden, crime goes down accross the board. Murders, thefts go down, not to mention the mere fact that you’ve eliminated the number one source of crime in america, using an illicit drug.

      I’m assuiming that Mr. Smith is in the police pocket, but the police aren’t scared of losing federal funding, they’re in fear of losing their paychecks. Without drugs to combat, there’s not much left for them to tackle but really hard stuff, like rape and the non drug related murders… think about the nubmers we’re talking about. It’s staggering.

    4. Sara Steiner says:

      The war on drugs is a war on the people. Right now SWAT teams are deployed 40-50,000 times a year, mostly serving drug search warrants. Killing innocent people, non-violent marijuana smokers, pet dogs, and arresting old ladies in wheelchairs with oxygen tanks. It is a sick policy which is being shoved down our throats by the federal governments policies of militarizing the police, Byrne grants for every pot bust, and the huge prison industrial complex created to house non-violent prohibition violators. Enough is enough. The federal scheduling of cannabis should have changed when the federal government took out a patent on thc, and again as the 14 States and D.of C. accepted medical marijuana. What a farce.

    5. NORML / Men's alliance says:

      Rep. Smith / oil money = YES
      Rep. Smith / Pharma . money = YES
      Rep. Smith / Booze money = YES

      He’s fueling genocide and the cartels by not allowing the legal right to grow/legalize/regulate/tax & sell Marijuana legally .We’d put the cartels out of business if it were not for crooked politicians like him .

    6. anonymous says:

      Organizations that reaped $7.6 billion in ARRA contracts had given $47.4 million to state candidates and committees in 2008.

      Well , that’s all i found out so far . I got some letters in as to how much money Rep. Smith recieved from contributions and from whom .
      I’ll post it when ( or if ) i get this information from reliable sources i have contacted .

    7. NorCalNative says:

      I read the comments on “The Hill” blog. Those opposing cannabis never seem to have facts to support their argument, they just know in their hearts that it’s bad and they don’t like it.

      They also know they hate “stoners,” “hippies,” and “dopers,” And, as long as they hold these views making an entire industry run on the cannabis drug war is okay with them.

      Law-enforcement-related pathology, i.e., addiction to seizing the property and goods of those in the drug trade has given prohibition all the feeling of a congressional-approved jobs program. Boondoggle indeed.

    8. Ah , Ha……i told you . Here it is …………


      He recieved aproxaimately $ 180,000 from people that DO NOT want marijuana legal including money from oil and Pharmaceutical .

    9. DL says:

      Haha experts what experts? Enlighten me Mr. Smith atleast we can name our experts scientist’s and doctors that have proven it to be a safe alternative medicine & infact harmless!