The Hill: “Failed Marijuana Policies Are a Bi-Partisan Boondoggle”

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 thoughts

  1. When Mr. Smith comes down with some form of cancer that is untreatable using conventional methods, or the treatment for that cancer has such has devastating side affects, and conventional methods for those side affects don’t work for him, he may wish that he lived in a state where MMJ is legal. Then there is always the passibility that he will suffer an injury that leaves him in dibiliting pain. Then he may have to make a choice, become addicted to an opiate based pain killer, or break a law that he supports through ignorance of the truth. May sound a bit mean spirited on my part, but one can only hope.

  2. Mr. Smith you mention “experts”. Please tell us just what “experts” are you talking about. It would seem to me that when the American College of Physicians supports the legalization of medical cannabis, and the AMA has requested that cannabis be removed from its Schedule 1 status so that serious research can be done to determine its curative properties, there can’t be many “experts” left.

  3. That was a waste of hot air. This is a person who thinks that fighting the “good old drug war” fight is going to win him friends and help in influence people. IMHO, these people are slowly becoming dinosaurs, you see less and less of them around, and you see a lot more push back… even on Fox occasionally.

    You know what, when California build 23 prisons in the same span it builds 1 University, I’d say what we’re doing isn’t working.

    I’d also say that the police know full well that if you remove the high market prices of illegal drugs by making consumption legal and granting access, all of a sudden, crime goes down accross the board. Murders, thefts go down, not to mention the mere fact that you’ve eliminated the number one source of crime in america, using an illicit drug.

    I’m assuiming that Mr. Smith is in the police pocket, but the police aren’t scared of losing federal funding, they’re in fear of losing their paychecks. Without drugs to combat, there’s not much left for them to tackle but really hard stuff, like rape and the non drug related murders… think about the nubmers we’re talking about. It’s staggering.

  4. The war on drugs is a war on the people. Right now SWAT teams are deployed 40-50,000 times a year, mostly serving drug search warrants. Killing innocent people, non-violent marijuana smokers, pet dogs, and arresting old ladies in wheelchairs with oxygen tanks. It is a sick policy which is being shoved down our throats by the federal governments policies of militarizing the police, Byrne grants for every pot bust, and the huge prison industrial complex created to house non-violent prohibition violators. Enough is enough. The federal scheduling of cannabis should have changed when the federal government took out a patent on thc, and again as the 14 States and D.of C. accepted medical marijuana. What a farce.

  5. Rep. Smith / oil money = YES
    Rep. Smith / Pharma . money = YES
    Rep. Smith / Booze money = YES

    He’s fueling genocide and the cartels by not allowing the legal right to grow/legalize/regulate/tax & sell Marijuana legally .We’d put the cartels out of business if it were not for crooked politicians like him .

  6. Organizations that reaped $7.6 billion in ARRA contracts had given $47.4 million to state candidates and committees in 2008.

    Well , that’s all i found out so far . I got some letters in as to how much money Rep. Smith recieved from contributions and from whom .
    I’ll post it when ( or if ) i get this information from reliable sources i have contacted .

  7. I read the comments on “The Hill” blog. Those opposing cannabis never seem to have facts to support their argument, they just know in their hearts that it’s bad and they don’t like it.

    They also know they hate “stoners,” “hippies,” and “dopers,” And, as long as they hold these views making an entire industry run on the cannabis drug war is okay with them.

    Law-enforcement-related pathology, i.e., addiction to seizing the property and goods of those in the drug trade has given prohibition all the feeling of a congressional-approved jobs program. Boondoggle indeed.

  8. Haha experts what experts? Enlighten me Mr. Smith atleast we can name our experts scientist’s and doctors that have proven it to be a safe alternative medicine & infact harmless!

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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’…]

  12. 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

  13. 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.

  14. 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?

  15. 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.

  16. According congress.org PAC donations to Lamar Smith 2009-10 include
    Purdue Pharma Inc (Oxycontin)
    Bristol Meyers Squib
    Correction Corporation of America
    Johnson and Johnson
    National Community Pharmacist
    Glaxo Smith Kline
    Eli Lilly
    Altria Group (Parent Group of Phillip Morris)
    Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America
    Schering Plough
    National Beer WholeSalers Association

  17. Consider the place

    you find

    Consider Eternity

    Where do you find your place in this paragraph

    Propisition 19

    Eternity Is Forever

  18. Re: #22 WatchinItCrumble

    It is always nice to know the names of anti-marijuana lobbyists and the politicians they bribe. If you really want to influence the politician – go after the lobbyists behind his/her worst propaganda and policies.

    For example: I already began a campaign to “Boycott Alcohol Until Marijuana Is Legal in the USA.” I started a statement via petition to encourage people to show their dedication for the cause, which will be sent to politicians, mass media, and most of all, our target industry.

    Anyone can help the campaign by spreading the word. Wear it on your shirt, hat, bumper – Boycott Alcohol Until Marijuana is Legal…. That way, more people are invited to join this cause and eventually, people that earn profits, or an income from the booze industry will also see them. It can get stressful for them, especially when they see the financial impact that a boycott campaign can have. Make them wish they’d never taken the anti-marijuana route.

    Let them, the politicians and mass media insiders know that we won’t back off until they make an about-face and give into our demand to legalize marijuana.

    I have other special plans for Big Pharma.

    Really, there are creative ways to influence those people when polite requests in letters and petitions are either ignored, or answered with propaganda and more bad laws.

  19. Legal marijuana is coming to America and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it. It’s a slow process but it’s gonna happen. Accept it.

  20. Just make it legal all ready, if so many Americans use Marijuana as is said then legalizing it and taxing it like anything else would bring our country out of Economic Crisis!

  21. re; #28; Disgusting Says:
    Legal marijuana is coming to America and there isn’t a damn thing anyone can do about it.

    –they allready are.
    ACTION ALERT !!
    THE ASSHOLES HAVE A NEW PLAN IN THE WORKS !!

    S. 510 / S. 3767: FDA Food Safety Modernization Act
    –(look it up, please)

    using “Food Safety” as an excuse, they will
    CRIMINALIZE THE GROWING OF YOUR OWN FOOD !!

    the giant corps. will have total control over food production !! (PAY THEM OR STARVE)

    so if they will not even let you grow lettuce and tomatoes,

    do you think marijuana growing will be allowed ??

    so yes, we may get legalization of SMOKING,

    BUT WE WILL HAVE TO BUY IT FROM THEM,

    AT ANY PRICE THEY WANT TO CHARGE.

    NO $10.00 A POUND LEGAL WEED.

    prohibition prices forever.

  22. Could it be that Rep. Lamar Smith is a paid terrorist and plan to use the federal police force to attack citizens under false pretenses and for political reasons?
    The late former President Nixon tried it and it worked. I am not making a joke here.

  23. the 19 yr. encumbent congressman in my district (21), is a cannabis bigot. the 21st district is Austin San antonio tx. area. His ignorant, stubborn opinion is indicative of the same ol politics around here. These are 2 letters from this man.

    Dear Mr. Al,

    Thank you for your letter about the legalization of marijuana.

    While we agree that drug use is harming our economy, straining our prison system and destroying the lives of our children, I believe there are more effective remedies than legalization. We need to strike a better balance between education, enforcement and treatment to stem drug abuse. Drug use is tragic, but I do not believe that legalizing drugs like marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, is the answer. While law enforcement efforts to decrease the supply of drugs and combat their use are only one component of the drug war, they are an important part of the solution.

    For more information on my work in Congress or to send me an electronic message, feel free to visit the 21st District’s Web site, http://lamarsmith.house.gov.

    Sincerely,

    Lamar Smith
    Member of Congress

    2 nd letter

    Dear Mr. Al,

    Thank you for your letter regarding H.R. 1009, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2007.” I appreciate hearing from you.

    To be candid, I do not support the legalization of industrial hemp for several reasons. It is exceptionally difficult to distinguish the varieties of cannabis sativa that contain high concentrations of the hallucinogen delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) from varieties that do not. I share the concerns of the Drug Enforcement Agency that the similarities of the different cannabis varieties would complicate our fight against the abuse of illicit narcotics.

    While I understand that many promote hemp as a sort of “wonder crop,” the facts surrounding hemp present a much less clear cut case. The Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce have found that legalization of industrial hemp would present little economic benefit to the U.S. These studies found that for every proposed use of industrial hemp, there already exists an available product which is cheaper to manufacture and provides better market results. For example, the cheapest hemp linen costs about $15 per square yard. A similar cost profile for fine flax linen is $7.50 per square yard.

    H.R. 1009 has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, where it awaits further legislative action. As Ranking Member of this Committee, I appreciate hearing your views, and while I realize we disagree on this issue, please do not hesitate to contact me in the future on other matters of concern to you.

    For more information on my work in Congress or to send me an electronic message, feel free to visit the 21st District’s website, http://lamarsmith.house.gov.

    Sincerely,

    Lamar Smith
    Ranking Member
    Committee on the Judiciary

    We are stuck with this doofus. Notice he refers to THC as “hallucinogenic”. And does not point out that hemp fibre lasts 5 times longer than flax or cotton. Contacting a closed mined, ignorant congressman does nothing.

  24. People in District 21 will remember the name Lamar Smith in a negative way when he tries for re-election.
    Prohibition is not good for Texas.

  25. Cultivation is almost required in relation to legalness. There could be no more prejob marijuana tests. Except maybe for DOT. Marijuana freedom is a human right, it is a shame that right is not being allowed in a “free state”. I wish Texs well in the removal of Lamar Smith from an elected position!

  26. this guy is just another SICK Motherfu@$er that needs to see that there is NOTHING wrong with mary jane.MAY HE BURN IN HELL WITH EVERYONE ELSE OPPOSED

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