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Methamphetamine: Georgia Governor Makes It Campaign Issue, Seeks to Double State Task Force

Locked in a close reelection race, in recent weeks, Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) has unveiled high-profile proposals to go after two of America's favorite bogeymen -- online sex predators targeting youth and illegal immigrants seeking drivers' licenses -- and this week, he added methamphetamine to his witch's brew of hot-button issues. At a Tuesday news conference surrounded by members of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Perdue announced he would ask legislators for funds to double the number of agents on the GBI's Meth Force.

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Mr. Photo-Op in Action: Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue
Launched earlier this year in response to reports of increasing methamphetamine use in the state, the GBI Meth Force is currently staffed with 30 agents. According to state statistics, meth cases submitted to the GBI have more than quadrupled from 1,200 in 2000 to 5,200 in 2005.

"Georgia is waging an effective battle against the scourge of methamphetamine with a strong local, state and federal coalition," Perdue said Tuesday during the news conference at the GBI Regional Drug Enforcement Office in Canton in remarks reported by the Gwinnett Daily Post. "An additional 15 agents... will double the state's efforts to combat meth and related crimes like burglaries, assaults and even homicides."

In a talking points memo produced to tout the proposal, the GBI explained that "the agents will be assigned to respond to meth labs, to investigations targeting meth drug trafficking organizations, as undercover agents conducting investigations of meth dealers, and to investigations of meth-related crimes or crimes committed in support of meth financing and operations." This is necessary because "local law enforcement is overrun with street level meth dealers and must devote more resources toward enforcement," the not disinterested GBI argued.

Perdue has developed a record of going after methamphetamine. In 2004, he requested and the legislature passed a provision increasing the penalties for cooking meth around a child. In 2005, he signed legislation that restricted the sale of medications containing pseudoephedrine, which is often used in home meth labs, and this year he budgeted $1 million to jumpstart the GBI Meth Force and another $1 million for treatment for about 200 meth users. The doubling of the force would take another $1 million.

But Perdue's Democratic opponent in next month's election, Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor, accused the governor of playing politics. "For the last month, Sonny Perdue has staged issue announcements to set up the next broadcast of a new political ad, and here he goes again," Taylor spokesman Rick Dent wrote in an e-mail to the Daily Post. "This is not governing, it's staging. It's all hat and no cattle. Voters deserve better."

Marijuana: Texas Gubernatorial Candidate Kinky Friedman Says Legalize It

Independent Texas gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman said Wednesday he favors legalizing marijuana. In an interview with the Associated Press, the musician turned author turned would-be Lone Star state governor said legalizing the weed would keep nonviolent users out of prison, adding that he would seek the release of those currently behind bars for marijuana offenses.

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Kinky Friedman
"I think that's long overdue," Friedman said. "I think everybody knows what John McCain said is right: We've pretty well lost the war on drugs doing it the way we're doing it. Drugs are more available and cheaper than ever before. What we're doing is not working."

Friedman is running against incumbent Gov. Rick Perry (R), Democratic candidate Chris Bell, and Republican-turned-independent Carole Keeton Strayhorn, none of whom have called for marijuana legalization. According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Friedman may need a massive stoner voter turnout -- he came in last with 16%, compared with 18% for Bell, 22% for Strayhorn, and Perry with 33%. There is no run-off election in Texas.

The humorist and raconteur's campaign had originally been viewed as a joke by most observers, but at 16% of the vote, Friedman can have a real impact on the race. And as the campaign heads for its climax, he has been articulating serious positions on issues like immigration (send 10,000 Texas National Guard to the border), crime (send $100 million to Houston to help police a city awash with Katrina refugees), and taxes (less of 'em).

But all seriousness aside, it is Friedman's comic sensibilities that have always made him stand out. After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin, he formed the outrageously named Kinky Friedman & His Texas Jewboys, featuring tunes like the "Okie from Muskogee" parody "Asshole from El Paso," the self-explanatory "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed," and the anti-semitism-confronting "They Ain't Making Jews Like Jesus Anymore."

And he's still got it on the campaign trail. "I just want Texas to be number one in something other than executions, toll roads and property taxes," he said. As for the possibility of losing: "If I lose this race I will retire in a petulant snit," he said. "I'm not going to go out gracefully, I promise you."

AP Interview: Kinky Friedman Calls for the Legalization of Marijuana

Localização: 
TX
United States
Publication/Source: 
Associated Press
URL: 
http://www.dfw.com/mld/startelegram/news/state/15511424.htm

Kohl Scores Easy Victory Over Masel (Wisconsin Primary)

Localização: 
AR
United States
Publication/Source: 
Capital Times
URL: 
http://www.madison.com/tct/news/index.php?ntid=98656&ntpid=5

Web Scan: New Video from "Emperor of Hemp" Creator, Jim Hightower on Marijuana War, Spitzer Flakes on Medical Marijuana

Get Off the Pot, George!," new video from Emperor of Hemp creator Jeff Meyers -- currently ranked #2 in the Huffington Post Contagious Festival

Jim Hightower blasts "The Government's Sick War on Marijuana"

Geoffrey Gray on "Eliot Spitzer Chokes on Pot Deal," New York magazine

Medical Marijuana: In New York Democratic Gubernatorial Race, Spitzer Says No, Suozzi Says Yes

Running an uphill race for the Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination against state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi hoped to use a televised debate to heighten his profile and open some space between himself and Spitzer on the issues. He managed to do that on a number of issuing, including medical marijuana.

When asked by debate moderator Dominick Carter whether medical marijuana should be legalized in the Empire State, Spitzer answered "no," which generated booing from the audience, while Suozzi answered "yes."

The next question was whether the candidates had ever used marijuana. Both said "yes," but Spitzer's affirmative was followed by laughter, then clapping from the audience. Neither candidate elaborated on their monosyllabic responses.

While Spitzer opposes medical marijuana, he has been a staunch supporter of Rockefeller drug law reform. Neither candidate, however, mentions Rockefeller drug law reform as a major issue on their campaign web sites.

(Audio of the debate can be accessed on the WNYC web site -- the marijuana exchange is 57:47 deep into the file.)

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