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Drug Legalization: Senator Pushes Amendment to Censor Any Talk of That

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #607)
Consequences of Prohibition

Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), an inveterate drug warrior, doesn't want to hear the L-word in Washington. This week, the corn-belt conservative offered an amendment to Senator Jim Webb's (D-VA) pending bill, the National Criminal Justice Commission Act, that would explicitly forbid any recommendations that even mention drug legalization or decriminalization.

the face of ignorance and prejudice -- US Sen. Charles Grassley
Webb, a congressional champion of criminal justice and drug law reform, introduced the bill in a bid to fix what he considers a failing, costly, and inhumane criminal justice system, including the war on drugs. Webb's bill contemplates the creation of "a commission to look at every aspect of our criminal justice system with an eye toward reshaping the process from top to bottom." That would presumably include taking a close look at the impact of drug laws.

Grassley's amendment says its purpose is "to restrict the authority of the Commission to examine policies that favor decriminalization of violations of the Controlled Substances Act or the legalization of any controlled substances." The amendment in its entirety reads as follows:

The Commission shall have no authority to make findings related to current Federal, State, and local criminal justice policies and practices or reform recommendations that involve, support, or otherwise discuss the decriminalization of any offense under the Controlled Substances Act or the legalization of any controlled substance listed under the Controlled Substances Act.

Grassley's politically bowdlerizing ploy quickly drew the ire of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). "Senator Grassley's censorship amendment would block what Senator Webb is trying to achieve with this bill," said Jack Cole, a retired undercover narcotics detective who now heads the LEAP. "All along, Senator Webb has said that in the effort to fix our broken criminal justice system 'nothing should be off the table.' That should include the obvious solution of ending the 'drug war' as a way to solve the unintended problems caused by that failed policy."

As Grassley's amendment started to draw critical scrutiny, he attempted to defend himself. In a conference call with media this week, Grassley responded to a question about the amendment: "Well, my intent on that amendment isn't any different than any other amendments that are coming up. The Congress is setting up a commission to study certain things. And the commission is a -- is an arm of Congress, because Congress doesn't have time to review some of these laws. And -- and -- and the point is, for them to do what we tell them to do. And one of the things that I was anticipating telling them not to do is to -- to recommend or study the legalization of drugs."

When asked if his amendment would include limiting the discussion of medical marijuana, Grassley responded: "Yes, the extent to which it would be decriminalization, the answer is yes."

Grassley added that he had floated several amendments and that he would not necessarily introduce all of them. As of Thursday, he had not yet formally introduced his censorship amendment.

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.


Anonymous (not verified)

Why the old silly billy, doesn't he keep up with things? (to put it in terms he might understand.) Doesn't he know what these policies have done to not only his constituency but to the nation as a whole. Time he retires as he is no longer flexible enough to change with the times. Wake up little sleepy head... wake up. Time to smell the coffee and get off the old-fashioned policies that were so destructive to our nation and it's families. It is his policies that has produced the overwhelming cost of the extended prison polulation. These people need treatment not incarceration and if marijuana remains illegal then alcohol should be made illegal as well.

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 1:57pm Permalink

Grassley ... no doubt one of those "Christians" who would rather see his constituents lose their farms to foreclosure than be allowed to grow Cannabis/hemp because it might "send the wrong message to young people" even though young people can easily see through the government's lies and misinformation.

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 2:41pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

just make it legal,marijuana just like alcohal...

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 3:09pm Permalink
Killer Rob (not verified)

I wonder if he made beliefs like this public in his campaign, and the voters still elected him? Basically, this guy believes in censorship, and is a US senator. Unbelievable...

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 4:10pm Permalink
Jean Boyd (not verified)

At least we know what we are up against. Lunatics like Grassley actually help the cause of legalization by coming out and sharing stupidity. Any person with an ounce of common sense will see through his facade and hopefully join in to end prohibition. Human beings will continue to talk and discuss what they know to be wrong.

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 4:50pm Permalink
ShakinT (not verified)

In reply to by Jean Boyd (not verified)

I agree completely! Look at how much the DEA's heavy handed tactics with medical marijuana dispensaries actually made the issue of legalizing medical marijuana and to a lesser extent, the issue of legalizing marijuana for all adults 21+ much more popular!

Tue, 11/10/2009 - 12:30am Permalink
maxwood (not verified)

Oddly-named Grassley may not know corn is one of the best precursor-crops for cannabis. Some of his constituents may be "flexible" enough to see that, unseat him, and plant hemperor concertoes.

By the way, most of that corn is fed to "red meat" animals (shortening human lives, and wasting land which could raise crops to feed humans, in a time when over a billion of the latter earthwide aren't getting enough to eat).

In turn, cannabis is one of the best precursor crops for trees. It has one of the most dynamic root systems of any annual plant, breaking and fertilizing undergrownd growthspace for perennials. Iowa owes everyone, and deserves, a magnificent forest with a population of 555,555 orangutans by 2222.

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 5:05pm Permalink
Rev.Sleezy (not verified)

Holy smokes! This is one tough moral crusader who belives he knows what is best for you. Apparently, you don't know best for yourself. I wonder how close to home the use of alcohol plays for this Senator. Alcohol directly kills over 35,000 people a year. Has he ever taken a campaign contribution from a brewer, distiller, or organiztion that supports the production of a product that causes violence, sexual abuse, cancer, and death? Hmmmm.. let's see I wonder if any IA corn is used in brewing or distilling alcohol. Senator Grassley, Have you ever taken a monetary contribution to your elction campaigns from any sources related to the production, manufacturing, growing, or transportation of alcohol?

The Rev.Sleezy
The Universal Life Church of the Holy Smokes
Potland, Or

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 6:00pm Permalink

Senator Grassley obviously is out of touch with the american people. marijuana is as popular as alcohol in our major metropolitan areas. People who live in our cities have to live with the results of drug crime. People want drug crime out of their neighborhoods without further violence from either side. People feel their children have a right to play without fear of a random act of violence between police and drug dealers. I wonder if mr. grassley's constiuants are aware of his uncaring concern for people's safety. The best idea i've heard so far is the possibility of legalizing, tax and regulate marijuana for adults. alcohol related crime would drop, and marijuana crime would be almost non existant. that would also make the police jobs safer.

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 6:23pm Permalink
David Dunn (not verified)

Typical Republican. However, Republicans, Libertarians and conservatives are all feudalists. They loathe and detest anything of American values.

To Sen. Grassley, the First Amendment is anathema.

It reads:

< blockquote>Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

So much for Sen. Grassley's oath to uphold and defend the US Constitution.

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

— Thomas Jefferson

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 7:07pm Permalink
brian e (not verified)

Well i can see where he's coming from, he must have stock in the rehab business or in private prison's and making lots and lots of money off the war on americans oh i mean the war on drugs what a piece of shit people like him are why everyone hates politicians

Fri, 11/06/2009 - 8:00pm Permalink
jimS (not verified)

It's not much to get bent out of shape about, there is always going to be those who are against marijuana. The man is doing what he beliefs in. I'm all for legalize, decriminalize or medical marijuana but I respect other peoples right to their opinion.

Sat, 11/07/2009 - 4:28am Permalink
Ray (not verified)

In reply to by jimS (not verified)

It depends on the foundation of his "opinion". If it is based on stupidity and cruelty I have utterly no respect for his "opinion". His job is to make this a better country for the people who live in. I don't give a damn what he believes in. I care about good decision making. This idiotic amendment is just another good example of Grassley being unfit for duty.

Sat, 11/07/2009 - 7:14am Permalink

This is the typical stereotype of the person we who are in favor of legalization are up against.Unfortunately people like Sen. Grassley are so narrow minded and locked into their beliefs that changing their minds(unless it means re-election)is all but impossible.Come on Washington,what happened to by the people? There are so many more important issuses that need to be addressed that are truly hazardous to Americans these days,I cannot believe that an educated representative elected by the people is wasting our time and money trying to stifle the opinions of his national constituents. Non-productive hard line conservatives are only proving their ignorance when they refuse to open their eyes to the new world we are living in today. It is my firm belief that these "old timers" need to realize that this isn't the 1950's anymore. Most of these antiques really need to step aside to allow a fresher younger force to take the reigns. I'm sorry Senator,you are not equipped to tackle the issues of this modern world and I most certainly hope the people that elected you wake up and smell the roses. If you are so truly concerned about the well being of the American people,then let's talk about dealing with gang violence,(a truly horrifying and growing problem in this country) or national security,(a new and now ever present threat to the persons of this nation) As far as I am concerned,(and I very much am) the issue of legalizing marijuana use in this country is a no-brainer! These monies we waste fighting a losing war against a weed could be better utilized somewhere else! Incarcerate the criminals that are killing our children,feed the hungry,give medical attention to the needy,decrease the cost of education,reform the healthcare industry,what the hell is wrong with you folks anyway?

Sat, 11/07/2009 - 10:49am Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Grassley knows what side his bread is buttered on. If Grass goes legal, Grassley looses all that money the marijuana underworld pays him to keep things "as is."

Sat, 11/07/2009 - 9:48pm Permalink
newageblues (not verified)

Grassley isn't just a citizen, he's a representative of the people of Iowa with a responsibility to give an honest and serious response to their concerns (and people beyond Iowa as well since he is making laws they must obey). The problem is that he will not grapple with the charge that he is trying to force people to use the far more deadly drug alcohol when they prefer to use the much safer one. He and his dictatorial ilk are stonewalling with all their strength on the issue of alcohol vs. cannabis. Respect ain't exactly the word that come to mind for this lordly behavior. They don't have a clue what freedom is about, and what a real crime is. More worried about people getting the munchies than murderous drunk drivers, child molesters (a specialty of alcohol abusers) or pregnant women giving their fetuses the lasting gift of fetal alcohol syndrome.

Sun, 11/08/2009 - 2:17pm Permalink

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