Dope Fiends

Biden Ideas and Issues Policy

            New Orleans     In one of the opening salvos in the last stretch of his campaign, Louisiana’s Senator John Neely Kennedy, not to be confused with any other Kennedy people that might come to mind, reacted strongly to President Biden’s marijuana pardons.  He seems to be equating them with crackheads and inferring that we would now have crazed dope fiends overtaking our communities and wild in the streets.  My local newspaper in New Orleans had a great editorial cartoon with one frame with former President John Kennedy, saying “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” with the other frame picturing Senator Kennedy yelling, “Call a crackhead!”

To be clear, President Biden did pardon a few thousand people that had been convicted and imprisoned on the federal statute for simple possession of marijuana.  The administration also indicated that they were studying whether to reclassify marijuana as something other than a Class 1 narcotic, more dangerous for example than fentanyl, which is killing thousands annually.  Biden also cautioned about marijuana use and gave no indication that he was thinking about proposing legalization, just fulfilling a campaign promise.  There’s speculation about whether this will impact the mid-terms, and Senator Kennedy is hoping it will, although he’s not exactly in a tight race for re-elections.  Far from it.

Keep in mind that there are now nineteen states that have legalized recreational marijuana along with Guam, the Mariana Islands, and of course the District of Columbia, where it is probably sorely needed in order to offset being the home of the federal government.  Medical marijuana is now legal in thirty-seven states and four of the five US territories.  I don’t know the number of cities where they have decriminalized marijuana, like New Orleans, that are ostensibly located in states where it is still illegal, but there’s a wheelbarrow full for sure.  At least enough, where I’m not sure how it can become much of a wedge issue.

I honestly don’t have a horse in this race.  I haven’t had a toke since I began organizing more than fifty years ago, and my one or two experiences were in my brief college career when it was passed my way.  I inhaled, but it wasn’t my thing.  That’s just me.  One of our members called last week because he was threatened with eviction as a HUD Section 8 tenant because he had a sign favoring the legalization vote coming up soon in Missouri.  Really?  Listening to part of our New Orleans members conversations about this before their weekly membership call last night, some were worried about people smoking while driving, but it’s not like they were going to hit the streets about it.

Hey, scientists and mental health professionals are re-evaluating LSD as therapeutic.  One of the safest policy bets any of us can make right now is that marijuana will be legal within the next ten to twenty years everywhere.  Fighting the drug wars, politicians need to pick their targets, and there are plenty with opioids, all of which makes promoting reefer madness seem both quaint and almost irrelevant in modern politics.