Georgia Lawmaker Calls For Caning, Executing Marijuana Offenders

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.] State Republican lawmaker Tommy Benton (31st House District) favors “caning” minor marijuana offenders and “executing” those who sell the drug, according to a recent correspondence sent by the representative to a constituent.
In a July 29, 2009 e-mail (which was voluntarily forwarded to the NORML office), Rep. Benton wrote: “Thanks for the email. We will have to agree to disagree on this and whether or not money is wasted (by mandating the state to prosecute minor marijuana offenders). I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana. I think we should go to caning for people caught using and maybe execute dealers. [emphasis NORML’s] That would solve the problem as well. That is what they do in Singapore and they don’t have a drug problem.”
Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of up to 24 violent lashes with a long rattan cane that has been soaked in water. The procedure inflicts intense pain and deep, bloody lacerations that can take several months to heal.
Rep. Benton followed up his remarks in a separate e-mail on August 11 (also forwarded to NORML) in which he threatened to turn over the names of citizens who disagreed with his political viewpoints to local law enforcement.
He wrote: “You and your cronies want it (marijuana) legalized so you can get a hit anytime without having to worry about getting arrested. I have forwarded your email to the Lowndes County sheriffs [sic] office so that they can be on the lookout for you. [emphasis NORML’s] Consider this my last correspondence on the the [sic] subject to you or anyone else who shares your similar “conservative views’.”
Benton was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2005.

UPDATE from Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator – Please Don’t Threaten Rep. Benton! Just Vote Him Out of Office.
Since we began covering the story of Georgia Rep. Tommy “Caning for Potheads” Benton on July 29, the story has spread like wildfire. We issued an official press release today and featured the story here and the NORML front page just yesterday and already the story has been covered from the libertarian/right Reason blog to the liberal/left TalkLeft blog.
However, I am deeply disturbed at some of the nearly 250 comments the story has gotten at the NORML Blog. There are threats of assassinating, shooting, caning, and kicking the ass of Rep. Benton, as well as comparisons to Adolf Hitler. Some have even threatened his wife, children, and family dog and published Rep. Benton’s home telephone number (which I’ve scrubbed).
Stop it! Rise above the level of people like Rep. Benton. Violence and threats of violence not only solve nothing and hurt our movement, but they may be actionable criminal acts.
I understand the feelings of anger and desire for vengeance. For far too long our people have been intimidated, harassed, threatened, assaulted, imprisoned, and killed for our interaction with a plant. Far too many homes have been burst into by armor-clad assault-weapon-armed police. Our people have had our careers shattered, education thwarted, children taken, healthcare denied, civil rights abrogated, dogs murdered, property stolen and destroyed, and voting rights erased in this “Land of the Free” because we liked to use the hemp plant in the same way this country’s Founders did. Believe me, I report stories and read heartbreaking personal emails like this every day.
I considered deleting these comments but have not (though my superiors may overrule me) because I do think they tap into the strong current of “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take this anymore” that runs through the cannabis community. Plus I am a strong advocate of free speech on our forums.
But realize that this kind of reaction only empowers Rep. Benton within his community of hateful anti-pot zealots. “See,” he’ll crow to fellow prohibitionists, “smoking pot turns you into a raving violent psycho!” We’re better than that. Cannabis is supposed to be the peaceful plant. Do not sink to this man’s level. Fighting fire with fire only burns down everyone’s house and an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. Fight this man with peace, education, and voting for his opponents in the primary or general election.

0 thoughts

  1. NeuroGenesis1:29
    Hay dude fuc- you I post what I want just like you. Except your post are the only ones I skip don’t make sense to me….
    Why don’t you get “deeply disturbed over the almost one million young, poor, mainly people of color that have their lives destroyed every year???? Rather than posting your little statement ever 10 post??? Or if your a racist and don’t care if we continue to destroy and enslave our fellow Americans. At least look at the issue of wasting almost 100 billion of our money they use ever year. To allow them to shove their right wing, unpopular, fanatical ideas down our throat.
    Or if you wish I can send you stories of people while in their own home have been killed. By drug task forces upholding prohibition laws.
    How about losing our rights one by one. A cop can now search your car if you are wearing after shave. Its called probable cause and after shave is considered a masking agent. So if you wear after shave and a cop stops you he can search your car because you are covering the fact you smoke cannabis??? And heaven forbid you give the cop a hard time and his quota is not met. He may plant cannabis on you to insure he has a job.
    Or how about the judges convicted for accepting millions in bribes for insuring a for profit jail stays full!!!
    I would have to think hard. If caught for growing one cannabis plant in GA you get 5 years in jail mandatory and are labeled a “Drug Dealer”. Maybe caning would be better! Wait no you would be a dealer for growing one plant so per this guy you should be KILLED!!
    I here the for profit jails love old hippies they are passive and easy to keep in a cage. At the rate of 45K a year per head they make billions warehousing old hippies..They also share the profits with or lawmakers!! Am I the only on that can see the connection???
    I do not advocate violence or will I become violent unless assaulted first. Unlike the laws used against us. But I will respect the right of some to go off on these ass holes. Perhaps they were pressed into slavery using these laws. Maybe they had to serve hard time for making a personal choice, that harmed no one. If that were the case they have a right to ask for an eye for an eye.
    I say it is time to end this slavery and selling of our representation to the highest bidder. No one seems to be looking at the personal suffering caused by our leaders/lawmakers….

  2. why the hell is this a big deal?!
    you all have the right to your own opinions, why cant he have his?! they may be flawed, but its not like he’s passing a law like it!!! dont get so mad!!!

  3. I consider the massive retaliation of threats to violence to be entirely expected (although of course entirely wrong). It is ironic that these outbursts are so “disturbing” when an elected official, to whom we are expected to place our trust and our governments future, is so consumed in his hatred for marijuana that he would resort to such extremes.
    Our failing EVERYTHING right now, and all he can think about is bullying hippies!? It’s not OUR fault that YOUR barbaric obsession is only helping shoot our economy to hell.
    I believe that the greatest resolution to this problem is to get that dude good and high, and if that’s ever a possibility, I would be happy to roll his first joint.

  4. How do we get this fool out of office? I’ll sign it! Just post a link.
    “why the hell is this a big deal?!
    you all have the right to your own opinions, why cant he have his?! they may be flawed, but its not like he’s passing a law like it!!! don’t get so mad!!!”
    -You seriously don’t see whats wrong with this guy’s opinion?! Every backwards, ignorant person should have an opinion, they should just not be representing me!
    *We The People*

  5. like in court they tell you, you have a right to a jury trial and to be proven without a reasonable doubt, yet if you lose your trial you get off worse than if you just told them you’re guilty. . . might as well call it Land of the Rights (with harsher consequences if proven guilty.) ban alcohol if marijuana’s illegal makes sense . Every story i read will say driver was impaired by drinking and marijuana wtf is that they jus wanna add the marijuana in for society who looks down on it not even knowing it only helped delay the accident. but w.e f it not voting for him.

  6. what i would like to understand is just why does he feel it to be neccessary to punish these small crime offenders in such a harsh and large crimed way????!!!!!
    you know it would make more sense to try his method of madness upon a crazy nut who takes a life of another human being..sure, then he deserves every bit of it. but how US AMERICANS IN OFFICE seem to think. its ok for a murderer to live the rest of his life leisurely behind cell walls is perfectly ok but yet someone like a marijuana dealer shud suffer from A.being caned!!!! or B. how does that compare up?? sell an herb and dye? or kill another human being and live? you tell me…this is ridiculus

  7. Just a quick note: I hate this stuff too guys, but getting angry just makes us it easier to paint us as left wing wingnuts and “dangerous drug addicts.” I got the shit kicked out of me a lot and got raped in jail for posession of less than an ounce. Six months after it ended MA. went decrim and I’m *mostly* safe now. Get mad in private, but when you post things publicly or write or call a politician act in a way which becomes you. I even got some of my charges dropped after the fact by representing myself as a straight A student who shuts up and and is polite to judges. Maybe you think being polite to assholes makes you a bitch, but remember the Sophist wisdom that you should speak in a way which appeals to your audience. Our audience is mainstream America and some of that audience won’t listen if you talk like an angry jerk.

  8. I certainly do not agree that marijuana should be legalized. Anyone that does is a selfish self centered jerk off. Do you really want pot smokers on the road driving too ? We have enough drunks already on the road now killing folks daily. Marijuana is a bad thing for people to get invloved with. If you think you have to smoke the stuff to escape reality then you need to see a shrink.Something is wrong with you. Grow up a face reality, you are a coward.

  9. Martha, I do not agree with your comments. Go drink alochol and see if you care about the reality. Maybe it is time for you to move out of our country. It does not belong to you anyone.
    I support legalizing marijuana for recreation as much as anyone would for drinking wine. You anti-marijuana people have no business telling us how to live. it is our choice. Not yours! Time for you to move out of USA please.

  10. Dear Mary;
    I suspect most responses to your post have been too over the top to print. None of us wishes any offence. But I shall endeavor to save face by explaining to the folks that don’t know, that you are not entirely without the right to express your opinion, however, when your opinion amounts to spreading racism, religious hostility toward those of other faiths, or favouring the absurdly wrong practices like torture and interfering with freedoms of other to believe and practice whatever does no harm to others, you are a bigot. Perhaps you hadn’t realized you are a bigot because the society you grew up condoned the casual use of racial slurs or demeaning people because of their personal sexual choices. Bigots hate others who are what they are not. Intolerance WILL NOT BE TOLERATED. Bigots are not acceptable to society.
    You said,“Anyone that does is a selfish self centered jerk off”, Now, is that a nice way to talk? It sounds like something a self centered jerk off would say, doesn’t it? Perhaps you are just in need of a toke to raise your cannabinoids Perhaps I am one, too, but I know a lot of people who use pot, and they are not all like me. I am here to help you. It appears you have been misinformed, which for those of us “in the business’ as they say for thirty seven years now, I have to assure you we are in possession of more than just a controlled substance. We are in possession of the Truth. I am long term study in my own right, but I have also digested the case studies of thousands, and am quite confident in responding that, unequivocally, what you have been taught your whole life about marijuana being bad for you is a lie.
    The good ladies at MADD, (Mothers against Drunk Driving) are good people. Many of them have lost loved ones to impaired driving. My own best friend, his fiancé and three of the wedding party were killed when a drunk in truck crossed the line a few days before the wedding. I have no mercy personally, for those who dare drink and drive. However, you have been misinformed about this, that marijuana impairs the ability to drive as alcohol does. It does not. Unlike alcohol, the International Olympic Committee has marijuana classed as a ‘performance enhancing substance’, while booze is not. If pot were legal, people wouldn’t suddenly change their lives and start driving with a buzz on, they already do! Always have and will, legal or not, we hear about lots of booze related accidents but as our friends and first responders at LEAP will attest to, that is not the case with marijuana. If a demonstration is required I would be happy to smoke two joints for every drink and we’ll do the obstacle course, or if precision mental acuity is in question a game of chess should solve your query’s there. I would even make myself available for testing as a long term case subject. The only negative consequences of smoking marijuana in my life have been directly from prohibition.
    Prohibitionists are Bigots pure and simple. They must be taught to mind their own business. We need to make it socially unacceptable to interfere with anybody’s Right to believe and practice whatever does no harm to others, anywhere. Everywhere. As for escaping reality, let alone being cowards, millions of marijuana users are jailed for their beliefs and practices every year. As a friend was fond of saying, ‘Reality is for people who can’t handle drugs.’ of course we were kidding around, but with perfectly law abiding people, other than the fact they choose to use, are being persecuted and lives destroyed, and have never harmed anyone, doesn’t this reality need escaping?
    Don’t assume something is wrong with someone just because they believe or practice something different to what you accustomed to yourself. Newsflash; God doesn’t punish the persecuted, but persecutor gets his reward.. SAFER is dedicated to promoting Marijuana and even the highest ranking bodies of many governments advocate repeal of prohibition.
    “The continued PROHIBITION of cannabis jeopardizes the health and well-being of Canadians MUCH MORE than does the substance itself.”
    • Senate Special Committee on Illegal Drugs, 2002
    It is NOT addictive as has been claimed. It doesn’t make you lazy or stupid, or any of the other stereotypes in the propaganda. I Bogarted two cannons before I wrote this, do I appear to have any of the characteristics you listed in your statement of your opinion?
    There has never been any demonstrable justification for prohibition in the first place and it is therefore unconstitutional
    People who smoke it religiously are being illegally discriminated against. Some people believe Moses inhaled before he heard the voice of God. You may believe otherwise, however we are to do unto others as we are to have done to ourselves, how would you like it if some one with a gun said you were no longer allowed to enter in to your way of belief or practice?
    Freedom of everyone to believe and practice whatever does no harm to others must become universal
    Something may be wrong with me, that’s what I smoke the pot for. It would be wrong to take medicine away from anyone who needs it, or to make any other person suffer harm or hurt in any way. Do no harm. Cannabis prohibition is harmful. There is also something wrong a person who is unaware of the benefits of anything who puts their energy into forbidding others the right to do as they please.
    You are cool, really, aren’t you, Mary? You don’t want to be a bigot like those good people who didn’t know any better when they burned crosses on the lawns of black families, do you Mary? As for being selfish, in my experience, marijuana users are exactly the opposite. Whenever you see one, don’t be shy, chances are, they will share with you. God bless Mary. Namaste everyone

  11. The idea of EXECUTING SOMEONE WHO SELLS MARIJUANA baffles me beyond belief. The fact that somebody in 2009 thought it might be a productive modern policy…? I feel like I’m going insane. What country is this again?
    Way to go, Georgians…

  12. rep. benton should be made an example of how an elected rep of his stature is thrown out of office come some election day when the vast majority of his base voters coming up are possibly going to be current or future pot smoking younger voters and baby boomers. Stick together because the older non smoking voters are dying off raising the odds as the years go by towards total legalization…. even in GA. especially as other great states show profits from there sucsessful regulation of medical mj and even state wide integration of this lifestyle and its potential prosperity for state coffers. Big mistake talking about a future cash cow of the state of Al like that. twenty years from now, this incident will be laughed at

  13. It is a shame people like this getting into office here, Ive lived and grown up in Ga all my life, I love this state, but this is one of the biggest prohibition states and I know when the time comes for marijuana legalization we’ll be near the end of the line in states to get it, until then we just got to try and keep guys like this out of office.

  14. It’s anal gapes like Tommy Benton that pot looks bad. I agree with DaniBlue787 we need to keep douchers like this out of office.

  15. How he could even open his mouth and say something so ignorant is beyond belief.. So sad that these are the people in control of our County. OK GEORGIA, THIS IS THE DEAL. HE HAS BEEN IN OFFICE SINCE 2005 AND HIS TERM EXPIRES IN THE GEORGIA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVE IN JAN OF 2013. REMEMBER THE NAME TOMMY BENTON FOLKS AND VOTE!!!

  16. Billions of people have died from smoking tobacco cigarettes. each day another one dies . Yet the War is on a herb that cures the cancer Tobacco creates. and there are many other medical uses for Marijuana that help people. Not to mention all the other uses like making clothing, paper, fuel, building material. Which if we used would save our forest’s, and our planet.

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