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Marijuana: US Congressman Mark Kirk Introduces Bill Targeting "Kush Super-Marijuana"

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #590)
Politics & Advocacy

Rep. Mark Kirk (R-IL) Monday introduced a bill that would dramatically increase prison sentences for marijuana trafficking offenses if the pot in question had THC levels over 15%. Warning Monday that "kush super-marijuana" had invaded the Chicago suburbs, Kirk is calling for prison sentences of up to 25 years for trafficking even small quantities of the kind bud.

Mark Kirk
Under current federal law, the manufacture, distribution, import and export, and possession with intent to distribute fewer than 50 kilograms or 50 plants is punishable by up to five years in federal prison, a $250,000 individual fine and $1 million group fine. Kirk's bill, the High-Potency Marijuana Sentencing Enhancement Act (HR 2828) increases the maximum fines for high-potency pot to $1 million for an individual and $5 million for a group, as well as increasing the maximum prison sentence five-fold. A second offense would double the fines and increase the maximum sentence to 35 years.

In a press release announcing the bill, Kirk warned of "zombie-like" pot smokers stumbling around the Chicago suburbs. "According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 25 million individuals age 12 and older used marijuana in 2007 -- significantly more than any other drug," he said. "That's why Kush and other high-potency marijuana strains are so worrying. Local law enforcement reports that Kush users are 'zombie-like' because of the extreme THC levels. Drug dealers know they can make as much money selling Kush as cocaine but without the heavier sentences that accompany crack and cocaine trafficking. Higher fines and longer sentences aren't the total solution to our nation's drug problem. But our laws should keep pace with advances in the strength and cash-value of high-THC marijuana. If you can make as much money selling pot as cocaine, you should face the same penalties."

Rep. Kirk appears to have swallowed the assumption that higher-potency marijuana is somehow more harmful than lower-potency pot, an old bromide dating back to former drug czar John Walters' "it's not your father's marijuana." But marijuana users say they adjust dosages to achieve the desired effect by smoking smaller amounts of more potent varieties. A user might smoke an entire blunt of low-potency Mexican brick weed, but only a couple of tokes of more potent pot, just as an alcohol user might chug down a 40-ounce bottle of malt liquor, but only a few ounces of more potent distilled spirits.

Further, kush is only one of a number of different strains of high-potency marijuana now available on the market. Many of those strains will produce potency levels of 15% or higher, much to the pleasure of marijuana connoisseurs.

"I don't know what's more ridiculous about this," said Bruce Mirken, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project, "Kirk's incredible scientific ignorance or the hypocrisy of a man who's taken thousands of dollars from the alcohol and tobacco industries going after marijuana."

By Wednesday afternoon, Kirk's bill had yet to pick up any cosponsors.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


James Johnson (not verified)

What a freakin IDIOT!!!!! Do they get any more IGNORANT than this????
How do they pay him off??? He really can't be this STUPID?? Can he??? He's the freakin Zombie

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 2:36pm Permalink
Anonymous Bob (not verified)

In reply to by James Johnson (not verified)

Wow, Kirk is a freak. First of all, Kush or (as he calls it) super marijuana should not have the same criminal charges as Cocaine. Smoking pot is nearly harmless compared to Cocaine, and it is not addicting. Mark Kirk says also that a few tokes of pot is equivalent to drinking 40 ounces of liquor, that is not true what so ever. If u smoke a lot of pot and then drive (which one should not do) the worst thing that will happen is u may drive to slow, run a stop sign, or hit a curb. How if a person were to drink 40 ounces and drive, they would be swerving all over the road and cause a serious threat to others. If alcohol is legal, shouldn't pot be decriminalized. Remember, "Man made alcohol, God made marijuana. Who do u trust?"

Tue, 03/16/2010 - 10:53pm Permalink
Petey (not verified)

So we should make it harder to sell the less harmful drugs so that people sell drugs like cocaine MORE often? WTF is this guy thinking?

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 3:22pm Permalink
CC (not verified)

Really a bad time to try pull a stunt like that. With all the momentum the legalization movement has right now. I'd say good luck to him,cause he's gonna need it. Power to the people! Time to call and write your states representatives. Keep your veterans and citizens out of jail. We have freaks like that in Nebraska also.
Good luck guys! :)

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 3:39pm Permalink
Giordano (not verified)

Looking over Congressman Mark Kirk’s bio reveals someone who should know better than to introduce legislation as ridiculous as calling for marijuana penalties that exceed those for first degree murder.  Besides being a Republican pro-lifer, he’s older than he looks (born in 1959) and he’s an active duty military reservist.

According to Wiki, Kirk introduced the marijuana legislation on June 16, 2009, at the behest of “…[t]he Lake County Sheriff's Department, the Lake County Metropolitan Enforcement Group and Waukegan Police Department [who] urged Kirk to expand the laws when they began to discover more potent strains of marijuana. As a result, Kirk called for 25 year prison sentences for first time marijuana users, despite the fact that medical marijuana is legal in 13 states.”

There has to be more to it than this.  Maybe the Lake County sheriff’s boys caught Kirk doing a wide stance in a public airport restroom stall while smoking a joint.  Blackmailed into cooperating with cops motivated to sustain the drug war at any cost, Kirk responded by introducing the most ridiculous legislation he could think of, something that had as much chance of taking flight in Congress as a fossilized pterodactyl.

Mark Kirk’s pandering to the forces of prohibition evil may very well produce negative consequences in his next election cycle, where his previous lead over his Democratc opponent was a modest six points in the most recent election.


Sun, 06/21/2009 - 12:51am Permalink
David Dunn (not verified)

Higher than what? How many more grams of THC per joint is 15% higher? How was this figure arrived at?

How is this measured? Show us your math, Rep. Kirk (R-IL).

Wouldn't it make more sense to remove all things hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and let states decide how to regulate and tax the quantity of THC per joint?

States could also mandate that there can be no herbicides, pesticides or other added chemicals in a marijuana joint. That alone would allow states to deal with their current financial crisis.

Too, with all things hemp, it would expand state's agricultural and manufacturing base.

But apparently neither Rep. Kirk nor the rest of Congress has any inclination to help states out financially. No wonder Mark Twain called Congress the National Asylum.

The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

— Thomas Jefferson

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 7:01pm Permalink
Dave Ramos (not verified)

Where did Mark hear about this "super-potent" marijuana? I'm asking because maybe he can hook some people up who don't know where to get it. Apparently he's been dipping in the stash bag too often, though. He may not even be able to get any. You know how these people are, they say they can get something then when you get the stuff it turns out you thought it was the same stuff they said they could get, you but it's not. This sounds like one of those kind of situations. Mark really needs to relax, all that cocaine can make a person paranoid. He obviously knows about hooking up some coke, but who knows if it's good, he seems edgy. Let's watch and see how this thing plays out.

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 8:54pm Permalink
Big Al (not verified)

How do the people of Illinois elect such an ignorant politician as Mark Kirk ?
The only zombie-like creature walking around is him and the other elected officials that have "kushy" jobs. They must stay awake at night trying to find more ways to fuel the prison industrial complex in this country.

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 10:22pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

This pod-creature is aptly named, kirking on innocent cannabis smokers -- he looks like he should be wearing a track suit and lying down with Heaven's Gate. "If you can make as much money selling pot as cocaine, you should face the same penalties.": right, Kirk, and that should also apply to your salary, perks, and bribes -- 25 years in prison for this creature is too lenient!

Fri, 06/19/2009 - 10:55pm Permalink
Bullshit abounds (not verified)

Never in all my born days have I heard such ignorant rantings as this supposedly smart person that has somehow gotten into the government. Has he lost his ever loving mind or what? Give prison terms of such magnitude just for an herb that is relished all over teh world? By gum, I just think he may have.

Sat, 06/20/2009 - 10:42pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

turning people into zombies huh?

lol where can i get some of this zombiekush? sounds awesome.

Sun, 06/21/2009 - 8:13am Permalink
Rural WA (not verified)

The claims about greatly higher potency cannabis than what was around in the 60s and 70s in the US can't even claim historical accuracy. A great deal of very strong grass was available, partly due to the large number of Americans in Vietnam. What average potency of grass was compared to today or what the THC percentages of either is, is something I don't know. Where I lived hash was very common from 1967 (when I started smoking) to sometime in the early or middle 70s and still common years later. I don't think anyone is going to find statistics that the hash had less than this "zombie" producing 15% level of THC. Extremely potent hash oil was very common by the early 70s and stayed common for years. Thai stick clearly didn't sell for such relatively high prices in the 70s for the novelty factor.

People didn't smoke the same amounts of grass, hash and hash oil when they smoked; they smoked the amounts that produced the effects they wanted. Presumably anything in the 60s and 70s that pretty much lived up to the description of "one poke pot" was pretty high in THC. And the fact that "one poke pot" was a normal term in the language should be evidence for even the dimmest bulbs in Congress that people also adjusted the amount of grass they smoked according to how strong it was. Why would anyone think that has changed?

And for what it's worth, I've never come across grass that was stronger than the strongest grass I smoked in the 60s or 70s though it does seem the weakest grass being sold in recent decades isn't as weak as the weakest that was sold in the 60s. Of course, that's just my personal observation and by the early 90s prices had gotten so outrageously high that I generally thought it was worth the greater legal risk of growing my own rather than buying small amounts so I've less representative experience with "street" grass since then (mostly other people's purchases) but none of that experience has been with anything that seemed stronger than my homegrown from selectively saved seeds.

Mon, 06/22/2009 - 5:25am Permalink
DROCK (not verified)

The bill was introduced without any org sponsors and was referred to the Committee on Judiciary and Energy and Commerce.

Conyers’ and Waxman’s committees – I’m pretty sure Kirk’s efforts will not go very far and as Giordano noted was pandering to local pressures.

Tue, 06/23/2009 - 12:10pm Permalink
dingobully (not verified)

Do they know that people who smoke higher potency pot just smoke less because they are not dumbasses? I've been to the burbs and have yet to encounter zombies.

Mon, 07/06/2009 - 4:25pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

What are we doing about Kirk and those like him? The people with their own futures in mind run this governing body and they seem to want nothing more than to lie to and ignore the people who put them up in their pretty little offices. We are the People and We are the Only ones with True power, this is our country and we deserve the right to live as we see fit! I hope that people like Marc Emery get a seat of power soon so we can end the tyranny! Of course we could just wait until a drunk driving politician kills someone... because the only drug out there as evil as they say pot is, is alcohol. No pothead father beating his kids on lifetime? Nope just the alcoholics and the deceitful politicians! Kirk go to hell my friend!

Thu, 08/06/2009 - 11:12am Permalink
Deets (not verified)

I usually with republicans on most issues, but this guy is a fucking dumbass. He introduced quite possibly the most ignorant bill since Jim Crow laws- what a tool.

Sat, 09/19/2009 - 2:04pm Permalink
Chicago DICK (not verified)

You weed heads are the morons and now with Kirk as a senator you people will hopefully all be doing some time before the rest of us citizens out here who don't go through life stoned off our azzes all day every day after our teen years have to support all you lowlives who eat sleep and think of nothing but your next buzz.

My bet is every poster here is some freakin teenager who spend their days stealing money from their parent's wallets to pay for this expensive weed the dealers are giddy selling to all you freaks. When we were kids you could buy an ounce of sensamillia that would last 3 months for 30 dollars. Now they sell the dirt weed for that much so they can suck your dinky paychecks out of you for something they grow in their backyards. You people are the morons and life will prove that theory out soon enough when all you deadwoods are stuck on the unemployment lines for life in a dying America filled with selfish stoned losers like you people.

Fri, 11/26/2010 - 2:11pm Permalink

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