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January 2009
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El Paso Mayor gaffe

Here’s an interesting turn of events.

Monday, an e-mail from the mayor surfaced, urging those who are against the resolution to make sure they are heard, because “the pot heads” have sent their message.

You know, we’ve gotten used to opponents calling us “pot heads” because we dare to speak the truth about drug policy. But how often do you remember that being a political gaffe?
Well once the email got out, the Mayor was actually forced to backpedal, make up excuses, and even kind of apologize.

Cook told ABC-7 the e-mail was private and not meant to be forwarded to others. “Specifically, I was referring to one individual who happened to write an e-mail to me saying that he’s been smoking pot for over twenty years and he thinks we should legalize marijuana in the United States … So if calling that person a pot head is insulting to him, then I apologize.”

And Beto O’Rourke was given the opportunity to take the high ground again:

O’Rourke had this to say about Cook’s remarks in the e-mail: “I’m sure the mayor probably didn’t mean for everyone to read this, but I was concerned that anyone who might support having a national open discussion on our best options in the drug war would be described as a pothead.”

Boo-ya!

Also check out this OpEd by Sito Negron in Newspaper Tree El Paso.
I found this part particularly interesting:

— Anyone who thinks that people who support legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana are just using this as an excuse to push their agenda is right, sort of. Saying “it’s just an excuse” is a way of being dismissive. If we agree there is a crisis in Juarez and Mexico, and there is one group of people who have been arguing consistently that part of the problem is our drug policy, why on earth would those people not proffer their proposals when they are most relevant? It’s like saying people who think our flood control infrastructure in the city is inadequate are just using Storm 2006 as an excuse to promote flood control.

Bingo.
And an equally astute observation about opponents:

Opponents of this part of the resolution do a few things: They accuse proponents of being druggies, creating a credibility gap that has to be overcome — a pre-debate; they use “the children” as a weapon, as though anyone thinks children ought to have drugs; they use dishonest language, conflating “use” and “abuse,” as though someone cannot smoke marijuana or even snort cocaine without abusing those drugs (answer this — how rational would it sound if instead of the phrase “drink a beer” everyone said “abuse a beer”?); they use dishonest statistics, throwing out numbers for drug overdoses, for example, when discussing marijuana, for which there are no recorded overdoses.

El Paso – the epicenter of today’s drug policy discussion.

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