Reefer Madness: Alive And Well In The Federal Government!

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director June 24, 2011

    Almost as if on cue from a movie director, the head of the Judiciary Committee in the US House of Representatives, ‘conservative’ Republican from Texas Lamar Smith, has provided both cannabis law reformers and the general public a typical up-close view of why the US Congress—the creator of Cannabis Prohibition laws in 1937 and later the Controlled Substances Act of 1970—rarely seems to work the way it was intended. One person, either ignorant or uninformed, can block consideration of a controversial political issue if he or she wishes to do so. And the ability to do this only increases with time, as the legislator gains seniority and become a committee or subcommittee chairperson.

    Rep. Smith, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, responded to press inquiries yesterday about the new federal legalization bill, that will be referred to his committee, saying he had no intention of considering the bill, or even giving it a public hearing. Unfortunately, under current Congressional rules, a committee chairman is given great discretion regarding what bills to consider, and which to ignore, and it is only when another member or members of that committee, or the general public, make a big deal out of it that sometimes one can overcome the stiff opposition of a committee chair.

    One promising fact is that the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers, JR, is a co-sponsor of HB 2306, and should serve as a counter-balance to the opposition of the chairman.

    Smith’s anti-cannabis salvo against the new legalization bill should inspire cannabis consumers and activists to redouble their efforts this year to get as many co-sponsors as possible for HR 2306, and to recruit and elect political candidates to Congress who no longer embrace reefer madness or favor continuing—possibly for another 74 years—the status quo of arresting another cannabis consumer every 35 seconds in America.

    NORML and our supporters decided to reach out to Representative Smith today, to let him know we considered HR 2306 sound public policy that deserved a hearing. Instead of addressing the concerns of the general public, Smith removed his page from Facebook and wiped it clean of any and all comments posted in support of the bill. Further commenting was also disabled on the page. Once one too many calls began coming into his congressional offices and the extension for the House Judiciary Committee, a prerecorded message was posted stating that his office was closed (it wasn’t, their operating hours on Friday are posted as until 6pm EST).

    Even President Barack Obama has stated he considers legalization a legitimate topic for debate, so why is Rep. Lamar Smith stonewalling the legislation?

    NORMLtv is now streaming a new PSA targeting Smith and his refusal to engage this issue in a productive and rational way, which you can view above. We encourage you to continue contacting the chairman through his contact information listed below.

    Rep. Lamar Smith
    DC Office: 202-225-4236 (8:30 am- 6:00 pm EST)
    TX Office: 210-821-5024 (8:00 am- 5:00 pm CT)
    Web: http://lamarsmith.house.gov/

    You can also use NORML’s Take Action Center by clicking here and easily message your elected officials to encourage their support of this important legislation. Over 3,000 of you already have, let’s keep the pressure on!

    We appreciate your support and especially want to thank those who have been helping us push this issue today with Chairman Smith. We will be back in touch soon to ask for your further help as we find new ways to push this new legislation forward.

    Subscribe to NORMLtv or follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest marijuana news and further updates on HR2306.

    202 responses to “Reefer Madness: Alive And Well In The Federal Government!”

    1. Flyer says:

      Tell the republicans you’re not willing to donate money to their party

    2. Venessa Embry says:

      I think maybe Lamar smith is afraid if it is legalized he will lose his “extra” income from the cartels…as long as it is illegal Mr. Smith can keep reaping the benefits. This is my personal opinion I do not know the man but i figure that’s why he is so opposed on this bill. Money,money,money…

    3. Senio Citizen says:

      His position makes no sense whatsoever unless he has ties to the Mexican drug cartels. It wouldn’t be the first such scandal.

      Maybe there should be call for an investigation.

    4. Tony B says:

      His point is that it is not approved for medical purposes or approved by the food and drug administration. And what makes this any different than Tobacco or Alcohol? Tobacco and alcohol don’t have a high potential for abuse? Everything has a “high potential” for abuse, and Rep. Lamar Smith is letting our country down if he is not going to atleast hear a bill that would generate billions of dollars for our government and create thousands of jobs for us citizens.

      HR 2306 is no where unreasonable and should be atleast considered on the federal level. Hear the bill

    5. Chris P. says:

      We should really play the republican game against them. Why do they freedom? why do they hate hard working americans? Why do they love putting people on welfare? etc. etc.

    6. Concerned Patriot says:

      I just want to know what we can do to supersede this guy. There has to be something we can do go around this guy. Does anyone have any answers. If he is going to use a technicality on us then there must be a way the people can get around him! Don’t lose hope!!

    7. Chris P. says:

      Furthermore we should find someone to run against this clown in a GOP primary that has views similar to Ron Pauls. A Democrat probably can’t win his district since it will be gerrymandered to hell but a republican might have a decent shot.

    8. JOhn says:

      Tried calling both numbers the TX number no Answer and the DC Number says Mailbox is full no more messages being accepted.

    9. Ned says:

      With a real bill in congress, we have the opportunity to target key blockers of the legislation. Never before could a Washington politicians pro drug war stance be any kind of threat to their seat. We can now make it one. THE SINGLE MOST EFFECTIVE way to get this going somewhere is to target the primary obstructers of the bill in their districts. Those in TX in Smiths district should begin a campaign as soon as possible there attacking him for this position. Loudly and relentlessly. Hound him back home. Make it as clear as possible that his stance could cost him his seat. Without doing that, nothing will happen. Also make it clear that other legislators that get in the way will be targeted too. If we don’t do this we will continue to get nowhere in DC.

    10. Jason says:

      Wonder if its the $30300 donation from the Beer, Wine, and Liquor industry, or the $48,000 donation from the Pharmaceutical Industry in 2010 alone that has clouded his logical thought processes…

      http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00001811&cycle=2010 click on the respective donations section to get the break down.