Marijuana Legalization Advocate Wins Texas Congressional Primary

Former El Paso city councilman Beto O'Rourke has defeated US Rep. Silvestre Reyes in the battle for the Democratic Party nomination for the seat Reyes has held since 1996. According to election results from the Texas Secretary of State's office early Wednesday morning, O'Rourke had picked up 51.3% of the vote to Reyes' 41.3%, meaning O'Rourke also avoids the need for a run-off election.

Beto O'Rourke (betoforcongress.com)
O'Rourke is a vocal drug policy reformer who has specifically called for marijuana legalization, while Reyes, a former Border Patrol official, has built a career on tough on the border and tough on drugs politics.

O'Rourke garnered national attention in 2009, when he championed a council resolution calling for a national conversation on legalizing and regulating drugs as a possible solution to the drug cartel violence just over El Paso's border in Mexico. The mayor vetoed the unanimously-passed resolution and the council was set to override the veto until Congressman Reyes threatened that the city would lose federal funding if it insisted on pushing the legalization conversation. The override vote failed, but O'Rourke has managed to use the issue as a launching pad for his campaign against what had been a heavily-favored incumbent.

O'Rourke has spoken eloquently of the violence in Mexico and its roots in drug prohibition, including at Drug Policy Alliance conferences, and is the coauthor, along with fellow El Paso city council member Susie Byrd, of Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the US and Mexico, which calls explicitly for marijuana legalization.

"O'Rourke's victory demonstrates that support for drug policy reform, and even for legalizing marijuana, is no detriment to electoral success - in fact it was a key asset in his triumph," said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Action, the Alliance's campaign and lobbying arm.. "Reyes' surprising defeat, meanwhile, shows that kneejerk support for persisting with failed drug war tactics can hurt politicians at the ballot box."

Earlier this month, the Democratic primary for Attorney General in Oregon featured a similar dynamic. Ellen Rosenblum won a surprising victory over favorite Dwight Holton, in a race in which medical marijuana became a major issue. Rosenblum is supportive of patients' right to safe and legal access to medical marijuana, while her opponent, former Interim U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton, is sharply critical of the program. Although Holton was heavily favored early in the race, he was targeted for defeat by supporters of medical marijuana after actively trying to undermine responsible state regulation. With no Republican filing for the office, Rosenblum is all but certain to be the state's next attorney general.

"Beto O'Rourke's congressional victory in Texas, coming on the heels of Ellen Roseblum's victory in Oregon's attorney general race, shows that drug policy reform is no longer a third rail in American politics," said Jill Harris, managing director of strategic initiatives for Drug Policy Action. "In both of those races, the candidates' views on marijuana reform were used against them in attacks by their opponents - and in both cases, the voters supported the pro-reform candidate. A majority of Americans now favor treating marijuana like alcohol, and strong majorities of both Democrats and Republicans say the federal government should not interfere with state medical marijuana laws. From blue states like Oregon to red states like Texas, it's a new day for the politics of drug policy reform."

Having won the Democratic primary, O'Rourke is well placed for a victory in November in this solidly Democratic district that has sent Reyes to Washington eight times. But now, it's a drug reformer El Paso is likely to send to Congress, not a drug warrior.

(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

El Paso, TX
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Both Obama & Bill Clinton endorsed Drug Warrior Reyes

Now they can all go to hell!

It's been some time since I

It's been some time since I heard anything about Beto O'Rourke. I recall his concern about the escalating violence in Juarez. How current elected officials choose not to concern themselves with the thousands dying in Mexico is beyond comprehension.

 

Thank you, Mr. O'Rourke

I remember reading about him a couple of years ago too

on a link provided by STDW. I was very impressed, but didn't expect him to achieve so much so quickly! Not too many people in DC care about what's happening in Mexico, so he'll have his work cut out for him.

This is an excellent trend. 

This is an excellent trend.  Now we are seeing the "nuts and bolts" to this 56% legalization approval now in this country.  This is very bad for drug warriors.  And it seems that with as hot as this issue is, it could be a very successful platform for other politicians to win all over the country.

The war on drugs is ending.  Say hello to the new order.

just like prohibition

So this is how to do it.

We have to replace all the marijuana haters with pot reformers.

This is actually the way that prohibition was brought down.

Once popular support for ending prohibition was over 50% "WET" politicians became electable.

And when 12 dry politicians lost their seats in the 32 election the rest quickly changed their minds and the alcohol war ended the following year.

And it will the same today.

It looks like we may be witnessing the beginning of the collapse of the drug war.

Woo whoo!!!

I hope and believe we

I hope and believe we can transform the border into a better, safer place

Congrats, O'Rourke.  Keep

Congrats, O'Rourke.  Keep presenting your arguments and your points.  We need this dialogue, and it is encouraging to see that your steady message did not keep people from voting at the polls.  Border and national security is, of course, the primary concern, but the impacts of what you propose on the criminal justice system will also be tremendous.  

This is tremendous news.The

This is tremendous news.

The more reformers in the Congress the sooner the WOD will end.

In the 2005 Supreme Court medical marijuana decision, Gonzales v. Raich, the majority got one thing right when they characterized marijuana as "this extraordinarily popular substance."

"One need not have a degree in economics to understand why a nationwide exemption for the vast quantity of marijuana (or other drugs) locally cultivated for personal use (which presumably would include use by friends, neighbors, and family members) may have a substantial impact on the interstate market for this extraordinarily popular substance."

If even the right-wing USSC can see that pot is an "extraordinarily popular substance" why can't our politicians see that waging war on the tens of millions of Americans who are consumers of 'extraordinarily popular substance' is not good for the nation?

WFAD is the scum of the earth

A war against drugs that includes cannabis but not killer alcohol?  What a pathetic evil joke they are.

Get it thru your fascist head, WFAD. if you can use  alcohol, other folks have a perfect right to use cannabis, which is indisputably FAR, FAR safer to use than booze. Anyone who pays even a little attention to the news can see that.

Good luck Beto

In its statement the WFAD rambled on about "drugs" and "narcotics" but didn't mention cannabis a blinkin' once.  Nemo, start with "Amarijuan Exceptionalism" and press for recognition of cannabis as an herb/nutritional supplement not a drug.  Among all those lawyers/lawbuyers nomenclature makes a difference.

Instead of 3rd-party-punishing Barry for hesitatin', consider the alternative: a Republican Party in bed with Big 2WackGo and "Philip Morris Johnny" puffin' away as Speaker two gunsmokes from the White House.

John Thomas: if the tobacckgo companies could pour $30 mil. (so far) into fighting a one-dollar $igarette tax increase in California, think what they can do to scare a Congressional candidate in mostly Republican Taxes oops sorry Texas.   They have these slick smooth lobbyist people who are worth several times $$ as much as TV ads.

Good Deal

The politicians in Texas have become the most self serving, greedy, and simple minded people in the last ten years and are an embarrassment to the whole state. The Christian right - which is just a off center as the liberal left - has used their influence to mold Texas marijuana laws into hard core evil punishments for a non violent, low damage drug that isn't really even a drug - just a weed. Their form of non judgment is to make laws that ruin every victim accused of breaking them - guilty or not. Their drug "task forces" are composed of sociopathic liars that have no guilt in violating the Constitution of the United States as well as lying in all court and warrant proceedings with impunity and even wit a pat on the back for doing a "good job". They sometimes use their kids pet dogs in their illegal drug searches and just lie and say that the dog "hit" so they can illegally search vehicles and property. Of course there is no video of the bust even though they have video cameras in their behicles.They steal anything that is of value to sell and keep perpetuating their "task force" budgets with no evidence and do not return it without the victims having to hire a lawyer and go to court to try and get it back. They scare kids into selling out their friends even if it is a lie. They use little teen girls they have "busted" to infiltrate groups of kids and report crime to them. Even made up crimes will work. And if your child is even accused of drug use or possession, they will get a permanent record on the police databases just as if they were actually convicted - it is not removed even if they are found innocent or not guilty! This effectively sentences your kid to life in the lower class jobs as employers have access to this information and respond to the police "blackballing" with like actions by not hiring them. So you kids are screwed. Forget being anything more than a manager at the burger barn. This is why marijuana needs to be taken off the Schedule 1 list by the federal government and it need to go back to being decriminalized in Texas and medical marijuana needs to be legalized for permit holders like in the other 17 states that are actually progressive and not looking down their noses at people that are disabled as "cripples" or freaks like they do now. This is another form of class separation and prejudice right before our eyes. What ever happened to the judge not part of your literature? It must be false since you do not honor it. And Texans are paying for this false religious right wing power playing that these people have no intention of following themselves.

Good Deal

The politicians in Texas have become the most self serving, greedy, and simple minded people in the last ten years and are an embarrassment to the whole state. The Christian right - which is just a off center as the liberal left - has used their influence to mold Texas marijuana laws into hard core evil punishments for a non violent, low damage drug that isn't really even a drug - just a weed. Their form of non judgment is to make laws that ruin every victim accused of breaking them - guilty or not. Their drug "task forces" are composed of sociopathic liars that have no guilt in violating the Constitution of the United States as well as lying in all court and warrant proceedings with impunity and even wit a pat on the back for doing a "good job". They sometimes use their kids pet dogs in their illegal drug searches and just lie and say that the dog "hit" so they can illegally search vehicles and property. Of course there is no video of the bust even though they have video cameras in their behicles.They steal anything that is of value to sell and keep perpetuating their "task force" budgets with no evidence and do not return it without the victims having to hire a lawyer and go to court to try and get it back. They scare kids into selling out their friends even if it is a lie. They use little teen girls they have "busted" to infiltrate groups of kids and report crime to them. Even made up crimes will work. And if your child is even accused of drug use or possession, they will get a permanent record on the police databases just as if they were actually convicted - it is not removed even if they are found innocent or not guilty! This effectively sentences your kid to life in the lower class jobs as employers have access to this information and respond to the police "blackballing" with like actions by not hiring them. So you kids are screwed. Forget being anything more than a manager at the burger barn. This is why marijuana needs to be taken off the Schedule 1 list by the federal government and it need to go back to being decriminalized in Texas and medical marijuana needs to be legalized for permit holders like in the other 17 states that are actually progressive and not looking down their noses at people that are disabled as "cripples" or freaks like they do now. This is another form of class separation and prejudice right before our eyes. What ever happened to the judge not part of your literature? It must be false since you do not honor it. And Texans are paying for this false religious right wing power playing that these people have no intention of following themselves.

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