Booker and Marijuana Hypocrisy

Booker and Marijuana Hypocrisy April 21, 2015

Dr. Sanjay Gupta did a CNN special recently about marijuana and it featured an interview with Sen. Corey Booker, who is co-sponsoring a bill (with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Rand Paul) that would end federal enforcement of laws when states have allowed the medical use of marijuana. He made a powerful point about hypocrisy:

In the interview with Gupta (found at the 38-minute mark), Booker calls for a “revolution” in U.S. drug laws.

“Our drug laws in this country, as a whole, need a revolution of common sense and compassion,” Booker explains…

Booker then turned to his fellow lawmakers who have admitted to smoking weed.

“Let’s stop the pot hypocrisy,” Booker said as Gillibrand laughed. “We now have three presidents that have admitted to smoking marijuana. People in public office, all throughout the Senate, have said, ‘Hey, I’ve smoked marijuana recreationally.’ How much of a hypocrite do you have to be to say that I broke American laws using pot as a recreational thing, that I’m not going to support this idea, as a medicine for severely sick people, that they shouldn’t be able to access this drug.”

But this still doesn’t go far enough. The last three presidents have all admitted to smoking pot, as have innumerable members of Congress. But bear in mind what they would have faced had they been arrested for it. Upon conviction, their lives would likely have been ruined (at least if they had been ordinary people; Bush would probably have been just fine because of his family’s money). They would become ineligible for federal education grants and loans. They would have become ineligible for many forms of public assistance, including housing (this doesn’t affect the wealthy or middle class, but it traps hundreds of thousands of poor people every single year).

Marijuana prohibition alone has destroyed millions of lives, torn apart families and doomed whole communities, almost always poor and minority people. Yet we have privileged politicians who did the exact same thing but faced none of those consequences continuing to demand that other people pay this massive price for a crime they themselves committed and walked away from unscathed. This isn’t just hypocrisy, it’s vile and unjust.

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