- Oil rig worker says he saw missing plane go down: report
- Pentagon: U.S. F-16 fighter jets to train with Poland near Ukraine
- Jerry Sandusky’s wife: Victims manipulated over money
- Ben Carson: America’s now ‘very much like Nazi Germany’
- Heroin found on N.J. toddler at day care
- Pistorius trial: Police conduct faces scrutiny
- Gaza militants fire large rocket barrage at Israel
- CBO chief: Projected job loss numbers from minimum wage hike are fluid
- Rep. Rangel: ‘No question’ Harlem explosion is result of gas leak, not terrorism
- Dog left in car blasts horn for 15 minutes
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.
- Six Senate seats could hinge on Keystone pipeline
- 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
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
An America drowning in red ink is the land of the free no more
- Inside the Beltway: A new interest in Rahm Emanuel for 2016?
- Female TSA officers say pat-down duty leads to workplace discrimination
- HURT: John Kerry The ridiculous face of a ridiculous U.S. diplomacy
- Deportations come mostly from border, DHS chief says
- Special ops forces wearing thin from high demand
- Last laugh: Marine vet fires off jokes from the grave with own obituary
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- Ben Carson: America's now 'very much like Nazi Germany'
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
Chaos as Manhattan building explodes
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again