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Bob Barr's Newfound Drug War Opposition Shows That Anything is Possible

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No drug warrior has played a greater role in the development of my own political identity than Bob Barr. At eighteen, I registered to vote specifically to support Initiative 59 to protect medical marijuana patients in Washington D.C. Despite passing with a massive 69%, Initiative 59 was blocked from implementation by an amendment written by Bob Barr, Congress's most proud drug war champion of the 1990's.

Dreaming of a day when my voice in our democracy would never again be held hostage to callous drug war demagoguery, I became a student of criminal justice and political science, and eventually, a proud soldier in the growing movement for drug policy reform. That, in short, is the path that brought me here today. And it is with that in mind that I read these words from Bob Barr, published yesterday:

…when government attempts to solve our societal problems, it tends to create even more of them, often increasing the size and depth of the original problem. A perfect example of this is the federal War on Drugs.

For years, I served as a federal prosecutor and member of the House of Representatives defending the federal pursuit of the drug prohibition.

Today, I can reflect on my efforts and see no progress in stopping the widespread use of drugs. I'll even argue that America's drug problem is larger today than it was when Richard Nixon first coined the phrase, "War on Drugs," in 1972. [Huffington Post]

Barr's mea culpa is no masterpiece of drug policy reform advocacy. It breaks no new ground. It even rambles tragically about the virtues of employment drug screening, only to end suddenly and disappointingly. But I'll take it.

Once our loudest opponent, Barr is now the presidential nominee of the pro-drug reform Libertarian Party. He has partnered with the Marijuana Policy Project to lobby for medical marijuana and now bravely admits "I was wrong about the war on drugs," publicly and for all to see.

Obviously, the drug war isn't going to end tomorrow just because Bob Barr doesn’t like it anymore. But that's not the point. What all of this serves to illustrate is that no one is immune to the truth. There is no heart so hard, no skull so swollen as to be rendered impermeable to the principles of peace, justice, and compassion. Our opponents don't have invisible forcefields around their brains. They are vulnerable to the truth every moment of every day that they walk the earth.

With that in mind, we would be wise to welcome and embrace those who break free, for whatever reason, from the icy death grip of prohibitionist political posturing. We must set a precedent of acceptance so that others might soon follow Mr. Barr across the threshold.

(This blog post was published by'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.)
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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George Wallace Redux

Bob Barr’s conversion to the path of righteousness via drug reform fits what is known about people overcoming intolerance.

Knowledge overcomes intolerance. Or in other words, intolerance in a modern industrial society exists in part due to intellectual laziness.

Cognitive laziness is both a good and bad thing.  While intolerance is the bad result, the good part is that the laziness extends to all other aspects of that person’s life, making most bigots too lazy to act on their intolerance.  Studies of the KKK indicated that only about  4-percent of the organization members had the energy and enthusiasm to actually go out and do something destructive.  Of course, getting paid to do something intolerant creates a different scenario. (Further info, see With Malice Toward Some: How People Make Civil Liberties Judgments, George E. Marcus, et al., 1995).

Aside from the science of lethargy, Barr’s embrace of pragmatism is reminiscent of Governor George Wallace’s turnaround on segregation.

Even better than Wallace, presidential candidate Bob Barr didn’t wait for the status quo to say it’s okay before opposing the drug war.  He’s leading the way for other mea culpas from politicians who by now may be desperately looking for an easy way to extricate themselves from their previous drug war pandering.


You Forgot Poland

What all of this serves to illustrate is that no one is immune to the truth. There is no heart so hard, no skull so swollen as to be rendered impermeable to the principles of peace, justice, and compassion.

At least one person fits the above description: George W. Bush

I do not trust Bob Barr.

He personally created some of the worst drug laws in America today. Why doesn't he denounce those laws more specifically? That way we can have a political debate in the campaign about these onerous laws.

Barr helped to craft the clause in congress's annual Washington, D.C. budget that prevents D.C. from implementing the 1998 medical marijuana law. Why doesn't Barr now attack this clause specifically and push for real change now? He is supposed to be about Libertarian states rights and Bill Clinton refused to sign one version of that budget BECAUSE of the way that that clause trampled states rights.

The Green Party's Cynthia McKinney has as much chance to win as does Bob Barr. The difference is that I trust McKinney to be genuine. To share my values on social justice issues. I have none of that with Bob Barr.

Green Party Cynthia McKinney

A real drug war opponent who better reflects my values. Better than Bob Barr ever will.

McKinney's drug war platform

"We Want an End to the War on Drugs Now!"

McKinney stood toe to toe with Bob Barr in congress when he was still a raving fascist. She is still the same while he has moderated himself to being a free enterprise authoritarian about the drug war.

Article fails to take the root, extreme christianity, into acct.


Great read but it fails to take into account the roots of continued illegal marijuana prohibition & the modern temperance revival.

Religious ignorance & intolerance is an 'invisible forcefield' to the rational and critical thinking mind... which is antagonistic to a 'conscience free from coercion'... without which morality becomes a fickle trickle.

The purveyor's of gods & gov'ts continue to tramble our rights & stiffle human development with their kill or incarcerate mentality towards those that dare to disagree with their ignorant dogmatic mindsets and immoral behavior!

But, what do you expect from legions of confused 'western judao/christians' who follow a middle eastern philiospher... Jesus.

Bottom line: western christianity (founded by religious extremists pogromed from europe) always has been and always will be antagonistic to a plural & egilitarian society based on tolerance & understanding.

True understanding/enlightenment requires examination of cause & effect (karma)... which is antithetical and dangerous to christian 'faith'.

What makes most christians so dangerous is not the power of their truth... but the truth of their power!

Just say no to gods & gov'ts...
they are always more problem then solution!

Bob Barr>libertarian

I was once a total facist, but am now a libertarian? Was it a blow to the head or lighting strike? Snakes don't change their stripes . Maybe forgiven,but not forgotten,and certainly not trusted.


I have known people who have gone through great moral epiphanies and Bob Barr emotes none of the characteristics of such a person.

He is now asking drug war opponents, who he has done the most harm to, to become his greatest supporters. That's just cognitive dissonance.


"Bob Barr's Newfound Drug War Opposition Shows That Anything is Possible"

Possible yes. But plausible?

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