Joe Barton wants the feds to arrest medical marijuana patients

As a cannabis legalization advocate I often email my pols and ask them to consider supporting various common sense reform measures. One recent email to Joe Barton sought support for a measure to end the federal prosecution of state sanctioned medical marijuana patients. Being as the Republican party is, or was, the party of state’s right, local control, and limited government, I was sure that Joe Barton would gladly support this common sense measure. Or maybe not.

Here’s Mr. Barton in his own words.

Dear Mr. Guest:

Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for legalizing marijuana for medical use. I appreciate hearing from you on this matter.

Congressman Barney Frank has introduced H.R. 2835, the Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act. This legislation would allow for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States. H.R. 2835 has been referred to the Energy and Commerce Committee.

I am opposed to the legalization of marijuana under any circumstances. The greatest myth about marijuana is that it is harmless. America needs to realize that despite the claims of marijuana advocates, the volume of medical knowledge about the dangers of marijuana continues to grow.

Marijuana increases the heart rate as much as 50%, increases blood pressure in susceptible individuals, and reduces the amount of blood pumped by the heart. Current research also indicates that marijuana may interfere with the body’s immune response to various infections and diseases. Additionally, marijuana seriously impairs the ability of individuals to think rationally, react to outside forces, and function properly.

When an individual uses drugs and then proceeds to operate a motor vehicle, they are not only putting themselves at an increased risk, they are endangering the lives of others. Often the fight against drugs focuses on the detrimental effects such substances can have on the user’s physical and mental health, but we also must consider entirely different group innocent individuals who find themselves in the destructive path of a drug user.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. Although we disagree on this matter, your thoughts are important to me, and I hope you will continue to let me know about matters of importance to you.

Joe Barton
Member of Congress

I’d like to thank Mr. Barton for responding. So many pols send meaningless canned responses that don’t even address the issue. Senators are especially obtuse. Someone on Joe’s staff at least read my letter and noted the exact bill I’m asking about.

Let me disagree with a few of Joe’s points. I’m not sure if anything is “harmless”. But should that be our standard for liberty? American adults may only engage in completely benign activities or risk federal prosecution? That doesn’t sound like a limited government idea.

Why won’t Joe apply the same standard to the police state, that he does to plants? SWAT teams routinely murder dogs and occasionaly kill humans, drug cartels murder Mexicans en masse with cannabis profits. You can’t die from smoking weed. You can die from a home invasion SWAT raid.

Joe then quotes some really scary information about cannabis use hurting your heart. I’m not a doctor. I’m pretty sure Joe isn’t a doctor either. But these groups, which probably include some really smart doctors, do advocate for patient access to doctor prescribed medical cannabis.

The American Medical Association
The American College of Physicians – America’s second largest physicians group
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society – America’s second largest cancer charity
American Academy of Family Physicians
American Alliance for Medical Cannabis
American Public Health Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Nurses Association
British Medical Association
AIDS Action
American Academy of HIV Medicine
Lymphoma Foundation of America
Health Canada

I’ll take their word for it.

Then Mr. Barton sets up the ultimate straw man- stoned killers behind the wheel. DWI is a favorite fall back argument for prohibitionists. You don’t support intoxicated drivers killing innocent Americans do you?

Two problems with that logic. First, people already drive stoned because the product is deregulated. Really, unregulated means anyone can buy it whenever they want.

Second, this study, and this study, both say stoned drivers aren’t all that bad at driving. This meta analysis shows that any comparison between drunk and high driving are misguided.

Finally, with law enforcement freed from arresting every dime bag carrying college kid they could spend that time on….. DWI enforcement.

If we apply Joe’s logic to booze, the the 21st Amendment was a mistake. It’s people like Joe that have to be convinced Prohibition was a failure. It may not be possible to reach people who are so blinded by the status quo. But I can try.

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