NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Marijuana legalization has been on a roll lately with state laws against marijuana falling like dominoes. Here are ten influential weed loving politicians. Their reasons vary and in some cases are questionable. But they are enthusiastic nonetheless and leading the charge for marijuana reform on the legislative front..
1. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.)
He comes from the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party and cites the oft-used line that federal pot prohibition is a drain on resources and an infringement on states' rights. He was quoted in the Orange County Register as saying, “I don't believe that you protect people by throwing them in cages.” He equates incarcerating marijuana traffickers and users as opposing the principles of the Founding Fathers.
2. Maryland Delegate Cheryl Glenn
A Baltimore Democrat who sponsored medical marijuana legislation in the state. Referring to medical marijuana, she said, “This is a matter of life and death for our people.” The state’s 2013 medical marijuana law relied on teaching hospitals to get involved in the distribution of marijuana. None of the eligible medical centers have done so. So Glenn and others campaigned for expanding availability.
3. Maryland Delegate, Dan Morhaim
Morhaim is the only physician in the 188-member Maryland General Assembly. He is also an avid pot proponent. He was quoted as saying, “The important thing to recognize is that there are thousands of Marylanders who could be helped in the short and long term. We're missing a tremendous economic opportunity to exploit this plant and use it in an intelligent, properly scientific, research way.”
4. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon)
Apparently favoring bongs as well as his signature bow ties, he frequently speaks out against anti-marijuana policies. He wrote recently, “As a growing number of states, including my home state of Oregon, move to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use, the conflict between state legality and federal prohibition is only going to get larger.”
He even managed to tie the Ray Rice NFL domestic violence issue with legalizing marijuana. This ranks among the greatest political rhetoric gymnastic achievements of recent times. Blumenauer has co-sponsored many of the recent pro-pot bills, including the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, the States Medical Marijuana Patient Protection Act and the Truth in Trials Act.
5. Delaware State Senator Margaret Rose Henry
A Democrat, she introduced medical marijuana legislation in Delaware three years ago. She said that she was “grateful that so many of my colleagues were able to look past the myths surrounding marijuana and into the eyes and hearts of those who were crying out for our help.” According to polls that were commissioned by the Marijuana Policy Project and conducted by Public Policy Polling, which was posted on the Marijuana Policy Project website, 68% of Delawareans favor eliminating the state’s criminal penalties for possession of up to an ounce of marijuana with a $100 civil fine.
6 - Delaware State Rep. Helene Keeley
A Democrat, she sponsored Delaware’s decriminalization law. She does not like the idea that millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars goes to prosecuting someone with an ounce of marijuana. Changing this would free up overcrowded jails which are full of those who arrested for simply possessing a couple of joints - or at least this is what she claims. The Delaware House Public Safety & Homeland Security Committee voted June 18, 2014 to release Rep. Helene Keeley's decriminalization bill. But the legislature adjourned July 1 without enacting it.
7. Colorado State Rep. Jonathan Singer
He is a drug treatment counselor who represents the Boulder area. He was one of two state elected officials who endorsed Amendment 64. Singer championed implementation. He addresses various issues of banking and consumer safety. Colorado was the first state in the union to make marijuana legal. It is also one of the first political entities in the world to do so. As such, it is a Petri dish for marijuana policies.
8. Washington State Rep. Roger Goodman
A Democrat who was at the vanguard of marijuana legalization, he is going through a controversial divorce which involves allegations by his wife that he drove with his kids in the car while stoned on marijuana. Goodman vociferously denies these allegations. Ironically, Goodman has been leading an effort to enhance penalties for those who are driving under the influence with kids in the car.
9. Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Folmer
A Republican, Folmer is a sponsor of Senate Bill 1182, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act. He thinks it is compassionate to make marijuana legal for medical purposes. His bill was passed September 25. But knowing the law is far from popular in the legislature and with the governor he knows his work is ahead of him. The bill that passed was a limited version of what Folmer wanted.
10. Pennsylvania State Senator Daylin Leach
Folmer’s Democratic Party co-sponsor of the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act, Leach is a tireless advocate for legalization. He is most famous for claiming that marijuana was less addictive than chocolate. This claim was refuted by Dr. Stuart Gitlow, the president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine.
Leach ran for the Democratic nomination for Congress, but the voters rejected him. But his medical marijuana bill was passed by the Pennsylvania Senate September 25.
--Written by Michael P. Tremoglie for MainStreet