Marijuana Law Reform Supporter Dethrones Eight-Term Incumbent in El Paso Primary

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director May 30, 2012

    In early May, Ellen Rosenblum rode to a landslide victory in the Oregon Democratic Attorney General Primary with marijuana law reform being a central plank in her platform. It looks like it has happened again, this time in the Lone Star state.

    In the Democratic primary for the House seat representing El Paso, eight-term incumbent Silvestre Reyes faced an unexpected challenger in Beto O’Rourke, who formerly served on the El Paso city council. The race garnered media attention, largely focusing on O’Rourke’s support for marijuana legalization.

    O’Rourke had been vocal in his critique of the drug war, telling the Huffington Post in April that, “you have 10,000 people killed in the most brutal fashion in Ciudad Juarez in the last 10 years, without a single word from the congressman about what we can do to change the dynamic and stop the bloodshed.” He also stated that, “it is clear to me that what we’re doing is a failure.”

    During his second term on the city council, O’Rourke championed a resolution that urged the re-examination of the drug war and went on to author a book on the subject.

    Beto’s support of marijuana law reform became the focus of attacks from his opponent, Reyes, in the final days of the campaign. Reyes lambasted O’Rourke’s position as soft on crime stating that “my opponent seems to think that recreational use of marijuana is okay with him, and that’s the group he hangs around with — but it’s not for me, it’s not for my grandkids.”

    Reyes feared ending prohibition would lead to widespread use around schools and children. “I don’t want to live in a community where people think that it’s okay to light up a joint and parade around elementary schools and junior highs,” he said.

    Despite these attempts to turn O’Rourke’s rational support for the reform of marijuana policy into a political liability, the voters decided otherwise. Last night, O’Rourke claimed victory, with 50.4% of the vote. Silvestre Reyes, despite the advantage of holding the office for eight terms, only received 44.4%.

    Let’s hope this is just another in an ongoing wave of pro-reform candidates being elected into office, replacing those who employ tired drug war rhetoric to continue the costly failure that is cannabis prohibition. The people want it. If the politicians aren’t willing to take a stand and change the policy, it is time we start changing the politicians.

    65 responses to “Marijuana Law Reform Supporter Dethrones Eight-Term Incumbent in El Paso Primary”

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    2. jbkorn02 says:

      I’m 33 and have been saying my generation will take over and everything will change. I don’t know anyone my age who is against legalization, nobody younger than me, and most of the peole my parent age also agree. Not to sound mean but a few of you senior citizens should stop voting since it won’t affect you much longer.

    3. chad says:

      The comment about people smoking pot in schools is ridiculous, but it’s even worse that the guy thinks 1,000 deaths a year across the border is preferable to someone smoking at a school.

    4. TheOracle says:

      Huffington Post is reporting this:

      In the final weeks of the Texas race, O’Rourke had somewhat downplayed his views on legalization. He said that it was a low priority for El Paso voters and not something he would pursue in Congress.

      “He’s backed off a lot on the talking points about the need to legalize marijuana or the impact it has on this border community,” said Richard Pineda, associate director of Sam Donaldson Center at University of Texas El Paso. “I think that it’s unlikely he’s going to be a champion for that issue.”

      End Quote.

      This really pisses me off! Another politician turning on us once they’re in office. He had better be lying about it to turn down the heat. When the time comes, I expect him first to support & vote for pro-cannabis legislation, then help draft it and sponsor or co-sponsor it.


    5. wbs 101 says:

      Remove these fuckers one by one they need to fear attacking marijuana legalization.

    6. Anonymous says:

      Now that’s what I’m talking about. 20 or 30 more cases like this and Marijuana is a constitutional right by 2020.

    7. Dwight says:

      you know i wrote our esteemed governor of Oklahoma last night and this is the response i get for making a valid argument and this is the best they could come up with, my letter was 4 pages long.

      Thank you for contacting the office of Governor Mary Fallin regarding the use of medical marijuana. The Governor appreciates your willingness to share your thoughts and has asked me to respond.
      Governor Fallin is opposed to the legalization of marijuana, even for medical use. The Governor believes that legalizing marijuana would only lead to further substance abuse across our state.
      According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, substance abuse results in nearly $6 billion in annual costs to our economy. Furthermore, drug and alcohol addictions contribute to 85 percent of all homicides, 80 percent of all prison incarcerations, and 65 percent of all child abuse cases.
      Thank you again for contacting the office of Governor Mary Fallin. If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our office.

    8. Fireweed says:

      Yeah, every time I get high I get this irresistable urge to go parade around an elementary school. I dunno what it is.

    9. RiannAC says:

      Wow, they finally ousted Reyes, that was a long time in the making. I’m not surprised El Paso went with O’Rourke, though I’m sure it had to do with much more than his opinions on the war on drugs.
      Karen, your statement that we are comparing apples of a different color is very apt. I am sorry to hear your brother went down the path he did. However, having known a number of people who have used (and occasionally abused) many different substances, I would warn against equating correlation with causation. I have yet to see a study proving marijuana causes psychiatric disorders. Many people who are predisposed to psychiatric disorders, on the other hand, are more likely to experiment and find temporary relief in psychotropic drugs. This isn’t exclusive to marijuana or even illegal drugs, in the United States prescription drugs are abused more than illicit drugs. We don’t need draconian laws choking our prisons with non-violent offenders who were caught with a joint. We need to focus on education and treating people who need help. When you teach kids propaganda and they find out even one thing is lie, how can you expect them to believe the parts that are true?

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