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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Washington Dems Roll Out Red Carpet for the Feds

posted by on July 26 at 12:07 PM

By a vote of 262 to 165, the House of Representatives killed an amendment last night that would have prevented the federal government from arresting authorized patients in the 12 states where medical marijuana is legal. Of Washington’s nine representatives, only three four supported it: Democrats Baird, Inslee, McDermott and Smith.

What is perplexing is that Representatives Dicks, Smith and Larsen, who voted against, are also Democrats. Do they know their state has a medical marijuana law? Or that 82 percent of Washington voters (and probably more in their Dem districts) support medical marijuana? Who knows—they obviously don’t give a shit because they don’t have to. Their own progressive constituents tend to respond to our onerous drug policy and efforts to correct it in one of two ways. Some claim votes like these indicate federal Democrats are out of touch with their districts on this issue so we need to elect third-party candidates; I don’t. (I only vote for candidates who can realistically win.) Others whine that this issue is a low priority and even though they really want our drug policies to change they don’t think it will ever happen… meow, meow, meow. What progressives are actually saying is, “Go ahead. Vote to maintain backward drug policy; we won’t hold it against you.”

Democrats need to stick it to their representatives to vote for better drug laws—funding treatment on demand, providing needle exchanges to stop spread of disease, protecting sick people who smoke pot during chemo—because these issues are not election losers. Locally and nationally, super-majority support exists among voters for medical marijuana. And to those who say that they’re waiting for drug laws to be changed at the federal level can sober up by looking at this vote. Dozens of successfully implemented local drug reform measures have passed in the last decade, proving that the state level is where there is hope to heal America’s ailing drug laws. Until mainstream progressives get a spine on drug law reform, federal votes like this one, pushed by several high-level drug policy reform organizations, will send a confusing message that state medical marijuana laws have been negated and perpetuate the misconception that bad policy will forever remain.

UPDATE: I just called Dicks’, Smith’s, and Larsen’s D.C. offices to ask why the Congressmen opposed the amendment. Surprisingly, an aide for Rep. Smith claims, “That was an accidental vote.” He had reportedly misheard the language, she said, and has changed his Nay to a Yea. “I walked it down and put the vote in its proper place this morning,” she told me. The record above has been fixed accordingly. Dicks’ office punted me off to an aide who didn’t take my call. And a spokesperson for Larsen’s office said she would “check with Rick” and get back to me. Also, further analysis on the vote by Lee Rosenberg over at Horse’s Ass.

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Maybe pot-heads should spend more time writing their Congressman and less time watching "Waking Life."

Posted by arduous | July 26, 2007 12:16 PM

"If contempt of Congress is a crime, aren't we all guilty?"


Posted by Original Andrew | July 26, 2007 12:17 PM

@1, Maybe you should stop expecting the 15 percent of the population who smokes pot to fix a national policy for everyone else. Disease from dirty needles, erosion of civil liberties, and an over-bloated budget in the name of fighting the drug war is everyone's problem. We'd all benefit from treating drug abuse as a pandemic and not a scourge.

Posted by Dominic Holden | July 26, 2007 12:25 PM

For reals. Democrats keep pulling this horseshit and I'm losing more patience all the time. Does anyone here have a record of how the presidential hopefuls voted on this? I'd like to know if Hillary put her money where her mouth is, regarding recent statements...

Posted by christopher | July 26, 2007 12:32 PM

Sorry, Dominic, it was a JOKE. But, the truth is that if that 15% of the population took the time to write their Congresspeople, they could accomplish a lot. 15% is actually a high percentage of the population. The problem is that the people who favor medical marijuana lack political will and motivation. Meanwhile the law-and-order side probably gets tons of letters asking them to keep federal laws on the books.

Posted by arduous | July 26, 2007 12:39 PM

This was a bill in the House of Representatives. Obama, Clinton, Biden, and Dodd are Senators, so they couldn't have voted for it. Gravel and Edwards are former Senators, and Richardson is a Governor.

The only Dem candidate that could have voted for it was Kucinich, who did vote in favor.

What this really shows is that for even small change at the Fed level, a broad base of grassroots effort is needed. Helping Burner or Rodney Tom beat Reichert in this election would likely give the Hinchey amendment another vote in favor, for instance.

Has anybody asked their opinion on medical marijuana, btw?

Posted by NaFun | July 26, 2007 12:49 PM

Actually, it's because nearly EVERYONE lacks political will when it comes to drug policy. Did you call your Representative and urge them to support this amendment? If not, why not?

Posted by NaFun | July 26, 2007 12:58 PM

Dear STranger: please ask Dicks Larsen McDermott Sally Clark Nick Licata and al of them to reveal what drugs they themselves did now matter how far back.

Basically we are stuck on the drug issue because all of us who did do drugs and do drugs now are too chicken shit to go public.

Our leaders are basically hypocrites an we let them be. Probably most of them or a key 30-39% of them did drugs and as Michael Bloomberg said, actually inhaled and actually enjoyed it.

If this comes out everyone else will no a bit o drug use is no big deal.

How could you change laws to recognize the right to have reproductive freedom or get equal rights for gay lesian transgendered and bi folks if none of them ever came out of the closet and legitimized their status as women who had abortions or persons of diferent sexual orientation?

One reason voters let these politicians do nothing is that themedia lets thepoliticians engage in this hypocrisy. Ask them have you ever used or sold drugs, how much, when, did you get high, if you think you should not have gone to jail how can you do nothing about laws that send other people to jail?

All it takes is a few more questions on a questionnaire.

Also some f your readers may only want to vote for those who enjoyed it!

Posted by unPC | July 26, 2007 1:02 PM

I'm sorry, I was paying attention to Rove being forced to testify under Oath, Gonzales being found out due to other testimony and documents today, and the continuing two indictments of other Red Bushies.

In fact, I ordered pizza last night to celebrate the latter.

Posted by Will in Seattle | July 26, 2007 1:45 PM

@7, because it's not my priority.

It's just not. I spend enough time writing letters advocation a pull out of Iraq, or farm bill reform, or comprehensive immigration reform. Also, I didn't know about the vote. Plain and simple. Had I read a piece on this BEFORE the vote (and Dominic might have written one, I dunno, I might have missed it) I probably would have called my congressperson even if it was not my priority.

But I'm sorry. To expect everyone to advocate for EVERYTHING is ridiculous. People are going to put pressure on Washington for the things they deem important. That's why the pot-smoking population, for whom this is a more important issue than the average person, should be leading the forefront of this effort.

Posted by arduous | July 26, 2007 2:37 PM

I'm glad that bit about Smith got corrected. He really is a great guy. Saw him speak once - he blew Al Gore off the stage.

Posted by md | July 26, 2007 6:13 PM

Agreed that we have to let them know how we feel. Politicians aren't going to walk on a tightrope without any support from their constituents.

Posted by Dianna | July 26, 2007 6:46 PM

The annoying (and good, at the same time) thing is that my reps usually vote the way I want them to (Neil Abercrombie, my rep, voted for it), so all my letter writing really does nothing. Maybe I should move to the sticks?

Posted by Dianna | July 26, 2007 7:14 PM

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