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. Jesse says:

      It’s a shame they don’t have someone rational to debate this… lets just call him congressman (offensive enough) or even a comments section on the video to give this agent of misinformation what for.

    2. truthandconsequences says:

      Hey Congressman-what year is it??? If you want to keep being called “The Honorable”, you had better wise up. The voters already have. The War on Pot ain’t gonna fly anymore.

    3. I just found this and i thought I’d share it so we can all laugh at these liars & ignoramouses .( sorry for changing subjects but this couldn’t wait )

      Heritage Foundation: Legalizing Marijuana: Why Citizens Should Just Say No.

      Legalizing Marijuana: Why Citizens Should Just Say No

      Published on September 13, 2010 by Charles Stimson

      Abstract: This November, California voters will consider a ballot initiative, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010. Scientific research is clear that marijuana is addictive and that its use significantly impairs bodily and mental functions. Even where decriminalized, marijuana trafficking remains a source of violence, crime, and social disintegration. Furthermore, studies have shown that legalized marijuana will provide nowhere near the economic windfall proclaimed by some proponents. The RCTCA addresses neither the practical problems of implementation nor the fact that federal law prohibits marijuana production, distribution, and possession. There is strong evidence to suggest that legalizing marijuana would serve little purpose other than to worsen the state’s drug problems—addiction, violence, disorder, and death. While long on rhetoric, the legalization movement, by contrast, is short on facts.

      The scientific literature is clear that marijuana is addictive and that its use significantly impairs bodily and mental functions. Marijuana use is associated with memory loss, cancer, immune system deficiencies, heart disease, and birth defects, among other conditions. Even where decriminalized, marijuana trafficking remains a source of violence, crime, and social disintegration .

      [Editor’s note: Heritage Foundation is an embarrassment when it comes to supporting Cannabis Prohibition despite claiming to favor ‘smaller government’, ‘less regulations’, ‘free markets’ and ‘consumer choice’…]

    4. rick says:

      when will these old time politicians wake up and see that pot has no harm to society why do they want to keep locking up productive people,
      do they really think its worth building new prisons every year, vote these communists out of power and let them get real jobs instead of harming society more my god this is so insane

    5. COREY says:


    6. Joel: the other Joel says:

      Rep. Lamar Smith is not good for anybody.

    7. Chris says:

      Sadly, the government knows what they’re doing is wrong(keeping pot prohibited). It would be the RIGHT thing to do to end the war on it’s citizens, and it’s nothing short of being just that. It’s always about money and influence. I just hope I’m alive by the time someone pulls-head-from-*** and ends the war.

    8. David762 says:

      Texas GOP “drug warrior” Representative Lamar Smith probably thinks that the Vietnam Conflict was still winnable, if only President Richard Nixon had sent another 500,000 American troops, and all the anti-war protesters had been thrown into prison, dirty f’ing hippies and their f’ing marijuana. LOL.

      Well, in my neck of the woods we learned early that you’re over your head underground, it might be time to stop digging. The Federal government’s second adventure in legislating public morality with the full force of the US government as morality police has been a failed policy, now 73+ years old. That’s right, Prohibition 2.0 has been as large a failure as Prohibition 1.0. When illicit drugs are cheaper, higher quality, and even more available than when Prohibition started, that qualifies as failure.

      But that isn’t the metric that our heroic “drug warriors” use to measure success, is it? Arrests are up year over year, the prisons are bulging to bursting, asset forfeitures have turned the drug war into a profit center, and LEO employment rolls are full. That’s some success, not unlike Vietnam. Over $1 Billion USD down a rat hole since Prohibition 2.0 began, and millions of USA citizens lives ruined unnecessarily don’t count for much with Rep. Lamar Smith and many others of his ilk, apparently.

      Well there are other jobs that this overabundance of LEOs can fill, especially if they are under 35 years old — they can join the USA military and fight in one of our many overseas conflicts, if they have the “stones” for it. Unlike the domestic drug war, however, their overseas opponents would be likely to shoot back. More money for government programs could be generated by ending Prohibition 2.0 and the War on Drugs than these “drug warriors” are willing to admit — new businesses, new products, new tax revenue sources, and more jobs could be had, besides reducing the Federal LEO budget. What’s not good about that, anyway?

    9. Buc says:

      Look at the comments section on The Hill.

      Great job, everyone. It’s completely dominated by thoughtful arguments by our side coupled with a few moronic ones from their.

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