As the annual 4/20 holiday approaches, it seemed rather appropriate to profile one of marijuana’s chief opponents—a prohibition supporter of ill repute who has also sought to cripple a free internet with SOPA and create a national database of internet user searches with H.R. 1981. This man, of course, is none other than Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas.
In the misfiring architecture of Smith’s deluded mind—or, perhaps socially-conditioned mind—he believes marijuana prohibition is the bulwark against gangs, drug dealers and Mexican raping and pillaging the amber waves and grain. It must be wondrous to live in such a fantasy land, to be so ignorant of history. Smith apparently has learned precious little from alcohol prohibition, which enriched and empowered American gangsters, and was a regular source of bloodshed. Like the party of which he is a member, selective history is the only history. It’s the na-na na-na boo-boo school of reality.
Look no further than Tijuana, Mexico to witness how the War on Drugs is playing out in Central and North America.
Last year, on June 23, Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Ron Paul (R-TX) submitted a bill to congress entitled The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, or H.B. 2306 Co-sponsors of the bill include Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). Even former President Jimmy Carter called for marijuana decriminalization in a New York Times op-ed in June of 2011.
Carter referenced a Global Commission on Drug Policy report that “notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008.”
The former president added that the War on Drugs, begun by Nixon and enhanced by Ronald Reagan, has required great resources, including police and military intervention, and led to “drug-related violence, corruption and gross violations of human rights in a growing number of Latin American countries.” He also agreed with the Commission’s recommendation that countries experiment “with models of legal regulation of drugs … that are designed to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens.”
With that in mind, who is Mr. Smith to believe that he, as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, should have the power to unilaterally stop the bill from heading out of committee to a floor debate and vote. Let Congress decide. In fact, no, this should be a federal proposition—take it straight to the people. In this day and age, the Congress, much like the ancient Roman Senate, has revealed itself to be an archaic institution poisoned by the virus of regression and mired in inaction and endless squabbling. With the rise of direct action and activism on the Internet, the time is ripe for the people to, once and for all, vote directly. From the perspective of the ruling elite, such power is dangerous in the hands of the masses, but one can dream, no?
At any rate, Mr. Smith’s only argument against marijuana legalization depends on a mistaken belief that prohibition keeps violent, black market operators in check. This, however, is not reason enough to stall the bill in committee. That said, perhaps the time is not ripe, with the GOP’s committee majority.
The evidence against Smith’s pro-drug war argument has been mounting for years, as if it ever really needed such validation amongst rational people.
“Clearly the ‘war on drugs’ has failed, and nowhere is that more clear than with respect to marijuana,” said Neill Franklin, a former Baltimore narcotics cop and executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). “It baffles me that we arrest nearly 800,000 people on marijuana charges in this country each and every year at taxpayer expense when we could instead be taking in new tax revenue from legal and regulated marijuana sales.”
For now, the best tactics are to keep raising awareness through protest and on the Internet, as well as support pro-legalization candidates across the country, not to mention those who run against Smith, to change the intellectual and character of Congress and let reason once again prevail.
And there are some signs of encouragement. Colorado, a conservative state, has a “Re-Legalization” ballot initiative on the table. (Watch for James Dobson and his Christian Kingdom to unleash their culturally regressive hyperbole in 2012.) And although Califorian’s legalization ballot measure was defeated last year, 46% of Californians support pot legalization. Ballot initiatives are also under consideration in Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Oregon, Nebraska and Washington, as noted by pro-marijuana lobbying group NORML.
Read the Global Commission on Drug Policy’s report, and send a letter, or a dozen, to Rep. Smith’s various offices. Inundate the motherfucker.
Washington, DC Office
2409 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
8:30 am- 6:00 pm EST
San Antonio District Office
1100 NE Loop 410, Suite 640
San Antonio, TX 78209
8:00 am- 5:00 pm M-F
Kerrville District Office
301 Junction Highway, Suite 346C
Kerrville, TX 78029
8:00 am- 12:00 pm M-Th
Austin District Office
3532 Bee Cave Road, Suite 100
Austin, TX 78746
8:00 am-1:00 pm M-Th