Senator, You Used to Be a Pot Head -- Now You're Talking Like a Narc By
Norman Kent, AlterNet July 9, 2007
Editor's Note: The following is a letter addressed to Minnesota
Republican Senator Norm Coleman -- a strong advocate of the brutal
federal drug laws on the books -- reminding him that he used to be a
happy, safe, fun-loving pot smoker.
My friend Norman,
Years ago, in a lifetime far away, you did not oppose the legalization
of marijuana. Years ago, in our dorm rooms at Hofstra University, you,
me, Billy, your future brother-in-law, Ivan, Jonathan, Peter, Janet,
Nancy and a wealth of other students smoked dope.
Sure, we had to tape the doors shut, burn incense and open the windows,
but we got high, and yet we grew up okay, without the help of the Office
of National Drug Control Policy's advice.
We grew up to become lawyers. Our other friends, as you go down the
list, are doctors, professors, parents, political consultants and
professionals. No one ever got cancer from smoking pot or diabetes from
using a joint. And the days of our youth we look back fondly upon as
years where we stood up, were counted and made a difference, from Earth
Day in 1970 to helping bring down a president and end a war in Southeast
Asia a few years later. We smoked pot when we took over Weller Hall to
protest administrative abuses of students' rights. You smoked pot as you
stood on the roof of the University Senate protesting faculty
exclusivity. As the President of the Student Senate in 1969, you
condemned the raid by Nassau County police on our dormitories, busting
scores of students for pot possession.
You never said then that pot was dangerous. What was scary then, and is
as frightening now, is when national leaders become voices of hypocrisy,
harbingers of the status quo, and protect their own position instead of
the public good. Welcome to the crowd of those who have become a
likeness of which they despised. Welcome to the mindless myriad of
legislators who gather in cocktail lounges to manhandle their martinis
while passing laws against drunk driving.
We have seen more people die last year from spinach then pot. We have
endured generations of drug addicts overdosing on a multitude of drugs,
from heroin to crystal methamphetamine. In your public life, as an
attorney general, mayor and United States senator, you have been in the
forefront of speaking out against abuses which are harmful. You have
been a noble and honorable public servant. How about not being such a
dope on dope?
How about admitting that if the Rockefeller drug laws were applied to
Norman Bruce Coleman on Long Island in 1968, or to me, or to our
friends, and fellow students, you, I and others we knew and loved might
just be getting out of jail now? How about recognizing that for too long
too many have been wrongly arrested, unjustly prosecuted and illegally
incarcerated for unconscionable periods of time?
How about recognizing that you have peers who have smoked pot for 25
years or more and they are successful record producers, businessmen and
How about standing up and saying you have heard and witnessed countless
stories of persons who have used pot medicinally, as I have, to endure
the effects of chemotherapy?
You who have travelled to Africa and seen the face of AIDS so up close
and personal would deny medicinal marijuana relief to those souls
wasting away from malnutrition, nausea and no access to fundamental
How about not adopting the sad and sorry archaic path of our office of
drug control, which this week suggested pot smokers are more likely to
become gang members than others?
How about standing up and saying: "I, Norm Coleman, smoked pot in 1969."
That "I am not a gang member, a drug addict or a criminal."
How about saying: "I was able to responsibly integrate my prior pot use
into my life, and still succeed on my own merits."
How about standing up not only for who you are, but who you were?
How about it, Norm?
I will always love, admire and cherish what you have achieved and
accomplished and the goals you have met. I will always fondly look at
the remarkable success of your present.
How about you looking back at your past and saying: "What I did was not
so wrong and not so bad and not so hurtful that generations of Americans
should still, decades later, be going to jail for smoking pot -- nearly
one million arrests for possession last year."
Can't Norm Coleman come out of the closet in 2007 and say "These arrests
are wrong -- that there is a better way, and we need to find it."
You might find more integrity and honor in that then adopting the sad
and sorry policy of our Office of National Drug Control Policy.
You might find the person you were.
Norm Kent is an attorney based in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, who specializes in
criminal defense and appeals, media law and First Amendment issues. He
serves on the Board of Directors for NORML, the National Organization
for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
(c) 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/55830/Friends,