05 January 2018

Republicans, going to pot

Jeff Sessions has just handed the Democrats a winning issue for this year's elections.  The question is, will our party and candidates be smart enough to embrace it?

By threatening a crackdown on legal marijuana, Sessions and the Trump minority-rule regime in general are once again "standing athwart history, yelling 'stop'".  The movement to decriminalize marijuana is clearly gathering steam -- recreational marijuana is now legal in eight states, and support among the American people has reached 64% -- even among Republicans it's 51%.  Tens of millions of ordinary Americans use marijuana routinely, including many who usually vote Republican; some Republicans also balk at the enormous wastage of money represented by enforcement of draconian laws against a drug far less harmful than alcohol or cigarettes.

Yet this is an issue where politicians and the Democratic party have never taken the lead.  They've treated it as something slightly tainted, to be kept at arm's length, or at least as being un-serious and a low priority (an error of which even Obama was guilty, at least early in his administration).  It's the people who have forced progress, dragging short-sighted "leaders" along in their wake -- the wave of legalization across the states has been driven by referendums, not legislation.

The Democratic party needs to fully embrace the defense of legal marijuana.  Timidity and fence-sitting won't do.  Sessions's move creates another threat to vulnerable House Republicans in districts with a lot of swing voters.  Younger people support legalization in even greater numbers than the general public, so this issue can help solve the problem of getting them to come out and vote.  Voters in the eight states which have legalized marijuana won't be happy that the central government wants to override their decision.  But to take full advantage of this, Democrats need to give those voters something to vote for.

Besides being a winning political issue, defending legalization is the right thing to do.  Just as with sexual issues, what an individual does at home in private is none of the government's goddamn business.  Marijuana prohibition not only wastes money, it puts huge numbers of people behind bars for something harmless that shouldn't be illegal at all.

At least one Republican Senator is already speaking out forcefully against the crackdown.  Our whole party needs to do the same.


Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Opiod deaths are the real problem, not weed.I don't understand why Sessions is going after this. As you say, this is a winning issue for the Dems if they're paying attention.

Here in Massachusetts this is what's legal"

• Outside the home, adults 21 or over can possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana.

• Inside the home, adults 21 or over may possess up to 10 ounces of pot. A single individual may cultivate up to 6 marijuana plants for personal use, and up to 12 plants per household are allowed if more than one adult lives on the premises.

• It’s OK for one adult to give away up to an ounce of pot to another adult, but not for money.

As a child of the '60s, I say good going Massachusetts.

I also want to say that as I was going through very strong chemotherapy in 2015, not much helped the nausea I was experiencing until my fabulous cousin came to my home and baked me some wonderful brownies (I couldn't smoke weed because the chemo had caused a pulmonary embolism.) The brownies were delicious and got me through those nauseating weeks of chemotherapy.

05 January, 2018 14:34  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It's pure cultural prejudice. Deaths from smoking and alcohol dwarf deaths from opioids or marijuana, both of which have valuable legitimate uses. But they're not part of the familiar cultural landscape and they can bring pleasure, so the fundies have to oppose them. Even the fact that they alleviate pain probably offends Christianity's disgusting and bizarre fetishization of suffering.

06 January, 2018 01:27  
Anonymous Marc McKenzie said...

@Infidel: Well put, sir. Honestly, one can only stand by in utter disbelief as the GOP pulls the pin on yet another grenade that they are holding and will be stunned when their arm is blown off.

Of course, this also pounds another nail into the coffin of the "but Hillary was going to be so much worse!!" argument. I heard this nonsense in 2016 with fools on YouTube making videos claiming that it was Hillary who would be worse for legalization (they conveniently ignored the fact that she would have continued Obama and Holder's "hands off" policy). But Trump--yeah, he was going to stand for legalization (even if they could not find it anywhere on his policy page).

So, once again--it does matter who gets into office. And yes, the GOP have created a new class of pissed-off voter who will come out to vote in November against them. It would not surprise me if some of those voters will be Republicans who have finally had enough.

I would make a slight correction (or two): While it is good to see Senator Gardner of CO take a stand, I want to see deeds not just words. And there are Democrats who are standing up for legalization--one of them being Senator Cory Booker from my state of NJ. And he was calling for it well before Gardner decided to open his mouth.

You do have to admit, though--have we ever seen a political party so anxious to commit political suicide like the GOP is doing now?

06 January, 2018 07:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Marc: In some cases it seems to be a desire to entrench their ideology as much as they can before they're swept from power, but not in this case -- a marijuana crackdown could easily be reversed by a later administration. I suspect people like Sessions genuinely have a visceral loathing for marijuana and for people who enjoy it. This may have been triggered by recent referendum victories for legalization.

I'm glad if some Democrats are speaking up for legalization too. The party needs to get out front on this to energize those youth voters.

06 January, 2018 11:54  
Blogger Green Eagle said...

"It's pure cultural prejudice."

True, but can I suggest another reason? Trump is on a rampage to do as much damage to blue States' economies as possible. Naturally, it is the liberal States that are legalizing marijuana, and reaping the tax benefits. This is an attempt to damage them, just like cutting off State and local tax deductions, which hurts liberal States which do more to help their people, while doing nothing to the greed-crazed red States.

06 January, 2018 17:28  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Green: That's very plausible -- depressingly enough.

06 January, 2018 18:55  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Sessions is racist bigot. We know what to expect from a racist bigot.

Here's what bothers me.

Behind Republicans', and many Democrats', moral cowardice on cannabis are the strings attached to Big Pharma, Tobacco and Alcohol. The obvious will of the people, that "Mob Rule" of democracy, and their sacred screed of "states rights", still take a back seat to corporate "free speech" cash.

And thanks to our FAKE president, that corruption is tightening its grip on our government.

10 January, 2018 09:53  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Dave: Good point. Marijuana is competition for all those interests. It could explain a lot.

10 January, 2018 10:13  
Blogger Dave Dubya said...

Big Pharma, Tobacco, and Alcohol are the most dangerous drug dealers in the nation.

We'll never hear that fact mentioned on corporate media because they are dancing to the same money strings as the politicians. Corporate media/government at its finest.

Then there would be the other merchants of death in the NRA/weapons/law enforcement and military wing of our corporate/government nexus. Gotta keep them happy too.

10 January, 2018 10:30  

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