January 13, 2019

Beto-Bob O'Rourke doesn't walk the walk on legal pot (updated)

Yes, this is primarily a state issue, but to some degree, it's also a federal one. And, while Beto O'Rourke talks the talk about marijuana, as far as I know, he has sponsored no bill to even address the Drug Enforcement Administration continuing to list pot as a Schedule 1 drug, let alone do anything more than that. Anne Helen Peterson doesn't discuss this issue in her 8,000-world puff piece, which itself indicates how much Beto's putting it on the back burner in red-lands Texas. (I searched the piece. The word "marijuana" is not mentioned once. In turn, it seems like Beto is stereotyping old, white, red-lands Texas on this issue, as old, white, pro-pot Willie Nelson is from Abbott.

Per a piece Walker Bragman just wrote in The Intercept, the legend of "Beto loves pot legalization" most likely got its start from when he was on the El Paso City Council. There, it was simply a tactical ploy, threatening to start a dialog about drug legalization. Whether Beto then primaried Sylvester Reyes because he actually supported pot legalization or just because he was mad about Reyes threatening to whack Obama stimulus money for El Paso after the council approved a Beto-pushed regulation is open to debate, as is the issue of how much this played in Beto's first House run, period, as this went down in 2009 and Beto didn't run until 2012, not 2010. So, claiming this drove Beto to challenge Reyes is itself an uncritical promotion of the legend of Beto on pot.

In any case, by the time he got elected to DC, to any degree Beto actually believed in marijuana decriminalization, let alone legalization, in the hinterlands of El Paso, he took a pass in Washington. Kind of like Reyes.

In fact, in 2017, a bill was introduced in the House to force the Drug Enforcement Administration to move marijuana from Schedule 1 to Schedule 3. The bill has three co-sponsors in addition to the Congresscritter who introduced the bill. None of them is named Beto O'Rourke. The sponsor, Congressman Gaetz, even spoke about the bill on the floor.

Per Brookings, rescheduling down to Schedule 2, though it might mean less to state governments, would have at least symbolic value. As for what Brookings states about many people in officialdom worries about international law obligations, I believe Canada just legalized pot nationwide, becoming official Oct. 17. And nearly 50 countries have decriminalized it. The horse is out the barn door.

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This is kind of similar to the Cares act that got moderately more support in the Senate. That said, it would only have moved pot down to Schedule II. There's a fair difference between Schedule II and Schedule III, per this list of federal schedules.

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