Atlanta, GA: State Republican lawmaker Tommy Benton (31st House District) favors "caning" minor marijuana offenders and "executing" those who sell the drug, according to recent correspondences sent by the representative to two of his constituents.
In a July 29, 2009 e-mail to a constituent, 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 to another constituent on August 11, 2009, 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.
Commenting on Rep. Benton's statements, NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said: "It is shocking that an elected official would endorse such tortuous tactics against the tens of millions of Americans who engage in the responsible use of marijuana. But it is even more reprehensible that an elected official would use his political power to try to intimidate those who disagree with him. Such behavior is an affront to the very principles of democracy."
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director at: (202) 483-5500, or David Clark, Executive Director of Georgia NORML at: firstname.lastname@example.org.