Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is pushing a bill that aims to put yet more people in jail for using marijuana, even hoping to create a crime for "conspiracy to possess" marijuana that could put people in jail for planning to fly to Amsterdam with their friends to smoke pot.
That’s bad enough, and luckily Nancy Pelosi pulled the bill off the House’s fast track. But Lamar Smith continues his war on marijuana, hilariously suggesting on Fox News that Barack Obama is "encouraging the use of marijuana."
Is that through the continued raids by the DEA of lawful medical marijuana practices in direct defiance of Attorney General Holder, or is it through the Drug Czar’s lies about and opposition to Proposition 19?
But Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML and board member of Just Say Now, took to the pages of The Hill newspaper to give a reality check to Lamar Smith’s lies.
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.
Be sure to respond in the comments at The Hill to show DC’s inside government audience that Armentano is right, and Lamar Smith is wrong. It’s good to show the DC crowd that the real world wants to end the war on marijuana.
Mason Tvert of SAFER had a great piece on FDL earlier this week about Lamar Smith’s ties to Big Alcohol and his war against marijuana.