In his weekly email, Rep. Steve Cohen continues his insistence on legalizing marijuana. He call is “fighting for a sane criminal policy.”
At a House Committee hearing about federal drug policies which unfairly hurt minority communities and have resulted in 4 times as many African Americans arrested as Caucasians, I was able to question the Deputy Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Thomas Harrigan about his views on federal marijuana. I was surprised to hear that he believes that “every single parent” opposes marijuana and that the drug, which is now legal for medical or personal use in nearly half of the United States, “insults our common values.” When I pressed him for more information, he tried to backtrack his comments and wasn’t able to provide backup for either of his claims.
Like the rest of our federal government when it comes to marijuana, the DEA is out of touch with reality. They haven’t kept up with the science, they haven’t kept up with the medical community, and they sure haven’t kept up with the American people. When a law is almost universally perceived as wrong, it breeds disrespect for our legal system. Americans young and old think federal marijuana policy is a joke. They know that marijuana shouldn’t be in the same category with heroin, and they don’t support taking one’s liberty away because of marijuana.
Now it’s gutsy to say you know more about drugs than Deputy Administrator of the DEA, but Cohen was not deterred. He also thinks he knows better than doctors. He says we all think the federal policy is a joke? Many of us disagree and culture has not embraced marijuana the way we have alcohol for solid reasons. Many judges would disagree with him, too.
He continues his argument, accusing opponents of racism:
Among other problems with our drug laws, our nation’s marijuana policy is deeply rooted in racism. 80 years ago it was based on fear of Hispanic immigrants, then Nixon played up raced based fears to garner votes all while his administration lied about marijuana’s health effects. When marijuana was placed on Schedule 1, it was supposed to be temporary until the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (known as the Shafer Commission) reported its findings on the drug. That was 1970. The Commission’s 1972 report recommended decriminalizing marijuana possession, though that recommendation was never acted upon. Last month, the Shafer Commission’s Assistant Director Richard Bonnie said: “Frankly, I am astonished that criminal penalties continue to be prescribed and imposed for simple possession of marijuana. It is long past time to repeal them.”
It is imperative that we take an honest look at why we have the drug laws we have today and how and why they should be changed. To paraphrase Maya Angelou – when we know better, we should do better.
Well maybe it’s wise to see how things work out in Colorado. Already, the uber liberal Governor Jerry Brown of California has rejected the Colorado plan. Doesn’t that say something?
What is it about marijuana that has Cohen so focused on it? You’ve got to wonder. Kickbacks? Power? The pothead vote? It’s amazing he spends so much time on it when other problems like unemployment, the economy, the deficit, national defense and energy far outweigh pot in importance.
He also brags that he is “protecting women’s rights:”
I am proud that I was recently awarded with a perfect score from NARAL Pro-Choice America for my votes in 2013. It is an honor to be recognized for my record protecting women’s rights and health care choices. While there are some in Congress who want to repeal the last 50 years’ worth of advances in reproductive rights, I will continue to stand with women and do whatever I can to make sure no one tramples on their rights.
Ask the baby girls who have been aborted what they think of their rights.
Of course, Cohen also supports the DREAM Act and Immigration reform:
I was pleased to meet with a handful of Memphis students who were in Washington to push for the passage of the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform, both of which I support. I will continue to urge Speaker Boehner to bring both measures to the floor for a vote, and I hope he does so as soon as possible.
Fortunately that issue appears dead in this year’s legislative session.