It’s not every day that you’re going to hear me praise Republicans for anything. Lately, there’s been an absolute flurry of bills filed at the state and federal levels by GOP lawmakers that would take us backwards, not forward. Whether it is allowing people without a proper license to drive buses in Mississippi under a religious exemption, trying to ban AP history courses in Oklahoma, or prosecuting educators in Kansas for teaching “harmful material,” Republican legislators have been on a full scale operation to impose an ideology that reminds me of something from the Dark Ages.
However, every once in awhile, a blind squirrel finds a nut – or so the saying goes. In Texas, a conservative Tea Party Republican state representative wants to legalize marijuana.
Wait, stop the presses!
A conservative Tea Party Republican state representative in Texas wants to legalize marijuana? The level of unbelievability for this story ranks somewhere between the Loch Ness Monster actually being found and finding an honest politician, but amazingly enough, it is true.
Texas state representative David Simpson (R-Longview) wants to legalize pot, and it’s makes perfect sense, even if you’re a religious conservative. In an editorial for tribtalk.org published on Monday, state Rep. David Simpson argued that the ban on marijuana was not only harmful, but it was wrong because his god doesn’t make mistakes. Here’s what he had to say:
As a Christian, I recognize the innate goodness of everything God made and humanity’s charge to be stewards of the same.
In fact, it’s for this reason that I’m especially cautious when it comes to laws banning plants. I don’t believe that when God made marijuana he made a mistake that government needs to fix.
Regrettably, that’s not the course we have pursued on more than one occasion. In the name of protecting the public, certain substances have been declared evil and contraband. So evil are these substances that state and federal agents are empowered to enforce laws with little to no regard for constitutional protections of individual rights, the sanctity of one’s home or the right to travel freely. (Source)
As an atheist, I obviously don’t believe in the supernatural being that Texas state Rep. David Simpson does, but if his belief leads him to do something right, I’ll take it. Unlike a lot of other politicians from both parties, he’s also got it right on the other problems that come along with trying to enforce an outright ban. As the Dallas Observer points out, this bill is the only one that makes sense that has been introduced by anyone, from either party, so far this legislative session.
Rep. David Simpson also points out that the War on Drugs (which is predicted to cost taxpayers $26 billion in 2015) has produced a lot of unintended consequences, including violations of civil liberties and violent drug gangs led by billionaire drug lords.
You would think that our country’s history with alcohol prohibition — an era marked by bootlegging, organized crime, government corruption and a rise in crime in general — would have prevented us from making the same mistake again.
But our current “war on drugs” policies, though well intended, have accomplished the exact opposite, spurring a proliferation of ever-changing exotic designer drugs and a disregard for constitutional protections in the name of eliminating drugs at any cost. Just think of no-knock warrants, stop-and-frisk, civil asset forfeiture and billionaire drug lords.
The time has come for a thoughtful discussion of the prudence of the prohibition approach to drug abuse, the impact of prohibition enforcement on constitutionally protected liberties and the responsibilities that individuals must take for their own actions. (Source)
Rep. David Simpson is a conservative Tea Party Republican and I certainly don’t expect him to get it right on plenty of other issues. As one example, he did vote for Texas SB5, one of the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the country. However, I do believe in giving credit where credit is due – and on this topic, David Simpson is more progressive than a majority of the Democratic Party. This is a reminder that Democrats need to get front and center on ending the War on Drugs, something they seem to have forgotten about.
Update: As of May 7th, the bill has now passed out of a Texas House committee on a 5-2 vote and could possibly be brought up for a full vote before the legislative session ends on June 1st, although news reports say that is unlikely to happen. However, the likelihood of marijuana legalization in Texas in the near future looks a lot more promising, thanks to Rep. David Simpson.
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