Tom Pauken is running for Governor of Texas. He’s nearly identical to Greg Abbott in every way, except Greg Abbott has a lot more money. Tom’s trying to differentiate himself so he recently took to Facebook to tout himself as a supporter of veterans.
Tom was asked if he would support allowing veterans to use medical marijuana, or if he wanted to continue to have them arrested. At first Tom just deleted the comments. (He banned me from his page and removed all my comments).
Finally Tom’s inability to answer this question became really embarrassing so he let loose fired off the answer below. Now remember what the question was; Tom Pauken, who allegedly really loves veterans, was asked if should we arrest veterans who use medical marijuana. Tom’s answer-
Obviously, a lot of people have come on this site to promote their position in favor of legalization of marijuana. While I am a businessman now, I was a young attorney in the 1970s who represented a lot of young people who had gotten themselves involved in illegal drug use. I generally was able to get them deferred adjudication and get the charge wiped off their permanent records. But I saw a lot of young people trapped in the drug culture and heading for a dead end on the career front. Doing drugs became their primary interest in life. It dominated their being. I was proud to help implement the successful Just Say No to Drugs campaign in the Reagan Administration which discouraged young people from getting involved in illegal drugs in the first place. It worked for awhile. Whatever one’s view on drug policy, young people who get into the drug culture are missing the opportunities for some great paying jobs and good careers because they can’t pass a drug test.
First, this answer highlights a typical non-answer to the medical marijuana question by authoritarian politicians. Here is your political lesson for the day, whenever someone lumps medical marijuana into the scary catch-all phrase “drugs”, that’s usually a sign they never got beyond a 4th grade DARE level understanding of the issue. You see our federal government classifies marijuana, even medical marijuana, in the same category as heroin, Schedule 1. This makes it easy for people like Tom to dismiss the idea out of hand because pot is DRUGS, just like heroin!
Let’s look at another part of his answer. Tom doesn’t want to “young people” to “get involved” with “illegal drugs” or “drug culture”. BTW, who says “drug culture” anymore? Does that include beer, we have a beer culture in Texas, but I digress.
Tom, the reason marijuana is an “illegal drug” is because of people like you. It’s less dangerous than alcohol. The reason that people lose jobs because of drug tests, is because people like you mandate and/or support drug testing and made cannabis illegal in the first place. The worst side effects of marijuana use are from the Government, not the plant. We can remove cannabis from the spooky “drug culture” by normalizing the sale of recreational and medicinal cannabis products.
Tom’s answer also touts his defense lawyer credentials. I was a prosecutor and now I defend people from the failed policies of politicians like Tom. I’ve represented veterans for possessing weed, and it’s an insult to their sacrifice that we throw them into our State’s broken criminal justice system. The injustice is multiplied if they are medical marijuana patients. If a veteran needs to smoke a joint because his doctor says it will help his PTSD he deserves our compassion and support, not jail.
I’m assuming the expunction laws were different when Tom practiced law. Today deferred cases can not be expunged, or “wiped off” your “permanent record”, they can only be non-disclosed, which means some record of the case still exists and can be used by the government to discriminate against you.
So let’s get Tom’s position on the record. Tom wants to help veterans by arresting them if they use medical marijuana. This brings me to my final point. GOP candidates like Tom need to quit tossing around phrases like “freedom” and “limited government” before they lose all meaning. To Tom (and other authoritarians) freedom means the freedom to live exactly as Tom lives his life. The freedom to make all the same choices Tom has, and if you make a different choice then you go to jail. And that’s the freedom Tom wants for our State’s veterans who use medical marijuana, the freedom to go to jail for making a choice Tom doesn’t agree with.