- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
Justin Bieber’s arrest while stoned a bummer for legal pot smokers
String of incidents raises questions on legalization
DENVER — If you’re an advocate of legalized marijuana, this is not the kind of celebrity endorsement you’re looking for.
Pop star Justin Bieber’s latest arrest while high on pot came at an awkward time for those pushing for further liberalization of the nation’s pot laws, and Mr. Bieber wasn’t the only one generating negative ink.
A series of high-profile news stories, starting with Mr. Bieber’s admission that he smoked pot all day before he was arrested for drag racing in Miami, have put a big-time damper on the legalization movement’s otherwise sky-high vibe, which had a number of unprecedented political and cultural triumphs in recent months.
Police reported this week that Maryland mall gunman Darion Aguilar mentioned in his journal that he used marijuana. In Colorado, a driver high on pot made national headlines after crashing into two state trooper vehicles, and a 2-year-old was rushed to an emergency room after finding and eating a cookie laced with marijuana.
The spate of weed-related incidents has given ammunition to marijuana opponents, who say such episodes are likely to increase as pot becomes more widely accepted in the wake of successful legalization measures in Colorado and Washington.
“This is exactly what many of us have feared,” said Kevin Sabet, former White House drug policy adviser and director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “It’s why most major medical associations are against [legalization] because we know with more acceptance comes more use, and with more use comes more problems.”
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. got an earful when he testified before a Senate oversight hearing this week. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Alabama Republican and former state attorney general, sharply criticized comments by President Obama in a recent New Yorker profile about pot use, which Mr. Obama has admitted he did frequently in his youth.
Mr. Obama left the anti-pot resistance dismayed when he told the magazine that he considered marijuana to be no more harmful than alcohol. He called marijuana smoking a “bad habit and a vice,” and “not very different from cigarettes.”
“I invested a huge amount of my time to break the use of drug use in our country — to make clear drug use isn’t socially acceptable and children shouldn’t be using it and it’s wrong,” Mr. Sessions said. “I’m heartbroken at what the president said. It’s shocking to me.”
But Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, said he doubts the bad publicity from a few incidents will slow the legalization movement’s momentum.
“I don’t think any of those things are going to be blamed by most Americans on marijuana,” said Mr. Tvert. “I don’t think Americans are going to base their decisions on an individual doing something stupid.”
Although the Bieber arrest has drawn huge media attention, Mr. Tvert said, people have become accustomed to the specter of celebrities acting out.
“We hear of celebrities doing absurd things all the time when they’re drunk, and people don’t want to go back to alcohol prohibition,” Mr. Tvert said.
The legalization movement scored another big win this month when the New Hampshire House became the first legislative body in U.S. history to vote to allow recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older.
Advocates are moving to place a retail marijuana measure on the Alaska ballot in August, and Oregon voters could consider the issue in November.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Valerie Richardson covers politics and the West from Denver. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stars not aligned with polls on Keystone
- Former Greenpeace insider Patrick Moore who questions climate change says he can stand the heat
- Pot shot: GOP candidates see hit to Colorado's image from legal weed
- Arizona veto likely to chill other religious freedom bills
- Alaska marijuana-legalization initiative clears signature hurdle to qualify for ballot
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Vietnam says it may have found door of missing Malaysian jet as intel look into stolen passports
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- PIPES: Islam's inadvertent adverse effects on adherents
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Italy outraged over U.S. gun dealer's 'David' ad
- WEBER: Obamacare cuts home healthcare for millions of seniors
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again