I attended a progressive event with MPP's Morgan Fox in D.C. last Tuesday, where Congressmen John Conyers (D-MI) and Barney Frank (D-MA) both spoke.
Unsolicited -- in front of the 60 or 70 activists and opinion leaders in attendance -- Rep. Conyers made an off-handed criticism of the drug war, which was nice to hear.
And Rep. Frank spent most of his time at the microphone talking about the marriage-equality victories on November 6 in four states, saying a few times that the gay-rights community "must press our advantage."
In other words, if the political momentum is on your side, you should use that momentum.
After their remarks, I chatted with Rep. Frank one-on-one. (This would surely be the last time I speak to him before he retires from the U.S. House in January.) After congratulating me on our wins in Colorado and Washington on November 6, he said to me, "We must press our advantage."
In fact, that's what we're going to do with a new slate of ballot initiatives for November 2016, as well as congressional legislation to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies without federal interference.
I want to thank Congressmen Barney Frank and Ron Paul (R-TX) for their service in the U.S. House; both men are retiring on the same day, as it turns out. They've made a wonderful contribution to the marijuana-policy-reform movement through their legislative leadership over the last three decades.
Gary Johnson, this year’s Libertarian Party candidate for president, spoke at a rally on Tuesday outside the Democratic National Convention. He criticized both President Obama and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for avoiding one of the nation’s most important political issues. Obama has laughed off or ignored persistent questions about marijuana legalization, while Romney is equally dismissive, calling the issue insignificant.
During his two terms as governor of New Mexico, Johnson established himself as the highest-ranking public official to call for a dramatic shift in the nation’s drug laws. He explains that during his two terms, he applied a cost-benefit analysis to every issue. Regarding costs of the war on drugs, he has cited the United States’ world-record incarceration rate and the fact that approximately half of current criminal justice expenditures deal with drug cases.
On his campaign website, the former governor also refers to the harms of alcohol prohibition and the parallel harms of current drug prohibitions, including the enrichment of organized crime and the associated violence. The site clearly states his support for legalizing marijuana, specifying that the federal government should “end its prohibition mandate” and allow the states to determine their own policies. This is one area where he agrees with former Republican presidential contender and libertarian icon Ron Paul, to whom he has compared himself and whose supporters he may be courting. Although he does not explicitly call for legalization of other drugs, he does refer to drug abuse as a public health issue rather than a criminal justice problem, making reference to the decriminalization which is in effect in Portugal and presenting it as a model for the U.S. to consider.
Johnson’s support in national polling remains quite low, and his name has often been omitted from the polls. It is likely that he will be excluded from the presidential debates, which does not bode will for his chances of ultimately winning the presidency. However, Johnson is the most prominent advocate of drug policy reform in the race and is expected to be on the ballot in all 50 states. Support of even 5% puts him at the top of the pack of third parties, as it dwarfs the best-ever presidential results for both the Libertarian Party itself and the Green Party, whose candidate Ralph Nader won 2.7% in the 2000 elections. His position in the race not only makes him a significant figure in the drug policy reform movement, but should work to raise public awareness of the issue and to improve the prospects for real reform.
UPDATE: Dave Mustaine has clarified his position, saying that he likes Santorum but does not officially "endorse" him.
I was shocked to learn that Dave Mustaine, the singer of Megadeth, endorsed Rick Santorum for president.
If you're not a fan of heavy metal, you might not know that Megadeth is one of the most popular metal bands of all time -- and they're certainly one of the most political bands in any music genre. Dave Mustaine actually covered the presidential race for MTV News in 1996.
As one of two MPP staffers who regularly listens to heavy metal, I can say with confidence that Dave Mustaine should have endorsed Ron Paul -- if Mustaine wanted to be at all representative of his fans.
Disciples of heavy metal are disproportionately libertarians: The anti-authority music lyrics go hand-in-hand with the anti-authoritarian policy positions of libertarians like Ron Paul.
Also, fans of heavy metal are more likely to be marijuana users than the average citizen. (If you don't believe me, go to an Ozzy Osbourne concert and breathe deeply.) So when Mustaine endorses Rick Santorum, Mustaine is basically saying that it is just fine with him if literally millions of his fans continue to face arrest ... for doing no harm to others.
On principal, Mustaine should have endorsed Ron Paul. And, even if only for selfish reasons, Mustaine should not have endorsed Rick Santorum, who seeks to incarcerate a large portion of the people who pay Mustaine's salary.
Ron Paul may have achieved something of a victory by coming in third in the Iowa caucus yesterday, which is something few political wonks could have imagined a couple of months ago. Still, something should be said for the fact that he maintained his firm stance against the drug war after being narrowly beaten by candidates who are absolutely against marijuana reform.
In an early morning interview, Paul renewed his call to end federal interference in state marijuana laws and repeatedly called the drug war a failure. He even went so far as to call it a worse failure than alcohol prohibition! And according to Paul, his performance at the Iowa caucus proves that many Americans agree with him and are fed up.
Here’s the video, courtesy of Huffington Post.
And then we have Newt Gingrich. Earlier today at a press conference in New Hampshire, an SSDP member asked the candidate how he felt about states’ rights and how the Founding Fathers would have felt about growing marijuana.
Here’s the video:
Huh. So this is what a self-styled “historian” thinks.
"I think Jefferson and George Washington would strongly discourage you from growing marijuana, and their tactics to stop you would be more violent than they would be today."
While there is no evidence to suggest that George Washington or Thomas Jefferson actually used marijuana (despite what you may have heard in Dazed and Confused), there is plenty of evidence that they both grew hemp and supported its cultivation throughout the country.
There is also no evidence that they would have supported violent tactics against American citizens for growing a plant. That sounds like something King George would have done.
Gingrich is all about it, though. Over the years, he has repeatedly supported creating insanely draconian punishments for drug offenses, even going so far as to push for the death penalty for smugglers. He recently suggested making our drug policies closer to those of Singapore.
So when faced with a loss to a candidate whose supporters often rally around the intent of the Founding Fathers, Gingrich decides to rewrite history to make it sound like men who rebelled against tyranny would support his tyrannical policy stances.
People care about honesty. Maybe that explains why Ron Paul beat Gingrich by eight points last night.
People who are familiar with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul have probably heard him speak about the need to end marijuana prohibition in the past. In fact, he mentions it quite often these days. Considering that only one other Republican candidate shares this opinion, it isn’t unusual to hear Paul bring this up in debate. Not only does this set him apart from the other candidates, but it is very telling to hear the rest of the field claim to be “conservatives” in favor of limited government and personal freedom, while supporting what is arguably the most intrusive, expensive, and wasteful government policy in existence.
This weekend, however, Ron Paul shared that message with a significant portion of America while speaking with Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show.” Judging from the audience response (not to mention a recent Gallup poll that shows a majority of voters support making marijuana legal), the need to end marijuana prohibition is becoming more obvious.
Perhaps this is why Ron Paul stands a very good chance of winning the Iowa primary.
Here is the entire interview. The section on prohibition starts at 6:35. Stay tuned until the end and see longtime MPP supporter Joe Rogan make an appearance!
Newcomer Rand Paul, son of Republican congressman Ron Paul, defeated establishment candidate Trey Grayson, in part, because of his support for medical marijuana laws.
Here’s how the L.A. Times described it:
“Grayson and his allies sought to portray Paul, a Bowling Green eye doctor, as something of a kook. They cited, among other things, his support for legalizing medical marijuana […] But the criticism served mainly to rally Paul supporters — many of whom backed his father for president in 2008 — and helped reinforce his image as a political outsider.”
If this can happen in conservative Kentucky, it can happen anywhere. Politicians of all stripes need to realize they have nothing to fear by supporting compassionate laws that protect seriously ill patients—and in fact, much to gain.