Ron Paul debates Stephen Baldwin on Legalizing Marijuana

Ron Paul vs. Stephen Baldwin is like Mike Tyson vs. a five-year-old. No contest.

Paul’s most powerful argument relates to the costs of prohibition, particularly crime from drug cartels and the cost of locking up non-violent offenders.


Reforming the marijuana laws

Things are starting to change. In Massachusetts, the voters overwellmingly approved a ballot initiative decriminalizing marijuana.

Defying the scare tactics of state and local officials, voters in Massachusetts and Michigan gave current marijuana policies a resounding vote of no confidence Tuesday. Massachusetts voters approved the first marijuana decriminalization initiative ever passed by voters, Michigan voters enacted the nation’s 13th medical marijuana law, and local reform measures appeared to be passing in several communities.

“Tonight’s results represent a sea change,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which sponsored the Massachusetts and Michigan campaigns. “Voters have spectacularly rejected eight years of the most intense government war on marijuana since the days of ‘Reefer Madness.’”

In Michigan, White House drug czar John Walters personally campaigned against Proposal 1, calling it an “abomination.” In Massachusetts, all 11 district attorneys warned of huge increases in teen marijuana use and other dire consequences should Question 2 pass, even though studies in the 11 states with similar laws, as well as Australia and Europe, have found no such increases due to decriminalization. Under Question 2, criminal penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana will be replaced by a civil fine of $100, much like a traffic ticket.

This makes sense and I expect it to gain traction around the country. Marijuana cases are clogging the courts, so more jurisdictions will begin to consider these reforms.

Medical marijuana has made even more progress, and Barack Obama has pledge to stop the disgraceful practices of the Bush adminitration to use federal laws to prosecute users of medical marijuana.

We should expect significant changes in the Drug War as well. Obama will not apoint a drug czar who views medical marijuana as an “abomination” and he has been very critical of locking up non-violent drug offenders.

It’s encouraging, however, to see these changes coming from the bottom up.


Stripping for Ron Paul

I love libertarians!


Ron Paul’s contribution

Few of us would want libertarians running things in this country, but Ron Paul has demonstrated that they offer very important principles to our political discourse. Even a liberal like Michael Kinsley can appreciate that:

The libertarian perspective is useful, and undervalued. Why does the government pay farmers not to grow food? Why are medications for fatal diseases sometimes held off the market in case they aren’t safe? (Compared to death?) Legislators and regulators should ask themselves far more often than they do whether some government activity or other expands freedom or contracts it.

Republicans used to be for smaller government, but over the past 25 years, with the emergence of the religious right, they have become more and more willing to use federal power to advance their agenda and therefore restrict our freedoms. We now have a Republican administration telling the states that they can’t enact medical marijuana laws and limiting federal research on stem cells. We had a Republican congress telling state and federal judges that their rulings on a woman’s right to die should not be enforced. They even passed a law making it more difficult to play poker online. When will they leave us alone?

The Terry Schiavo case was a wake-up call. Americans will draw lines on the limits of government power over their lives. Republicans seem to have forgotten these principles.


Poker battle heats up in Congress

The battle is heating up on Capital Hill:

The Pokers Players Alliance is pushing a bill sponsored by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) that would legalize and regulate Internet gambling, overturning a ban that became law after former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) inserted it into port security legislation late last year.

For poker players, whose association membership exceeds 800,000, time is at a premium. They want lawmakers to reverse the ban before some of the Frist regulations go into effect next year.

They recruited former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato (R-N.Y.) to lead PPA, and they brought in professional players to make their case to members last week, including World Poker Series players Chris Moneymaker, Howard Lederer and Annie Duke. D’Amato’s message to his former colleagues is clear — online gambling could generate $3 billion in taxes a year if the federal government regulated the industry.

That could present a tempting new revenue source for cash-starved Democrats anxious to implement new programs. But the odds are still not in PPA’s favor.

It’s facing a predictable head-to-head fight with family and evangelical organizations that say gambling leads to tragic addiction and compromises the moral fabric of the family.

When are we going to stop letting these Bible-thumpers run our lives? Why do we have to have prohinition against gambling just because some people are too weak or irresponsible to control themselves?

It’s encouraging to see the groundswell of support for sensible legislation legalizing online gambling, particularly games of skill like poker.

Republicans should ask themselves if they can continue to support a party that prevents them for enjoying games like poker. What ever happened to libertarian Republicans? Hopefully they’ll all vote for Ron Paul!


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