“It is wrong and it needs to change.” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) isn’t talking about drone strikes, to which he is very much opposed. He isn’t talking about Obamacare, legislation he is vocally against. This time, the conservative Senator and Tea Party supporter is talking about the War on Drugs.
Drug Crimes Shouldn’t Be Static
Paul has made his opinions very clear, and in September he asked his colleagues in the Senate to support reform that would dramatically change drug sentencing laws in the U.S.
“Each case should be judged on its own merits,” said Paul, as quoted by the Huffington Post. He said the laws are disproportionately damaging to black men, and likened the current system to the Civil War-era Jim Crow laws of the south.
Cynics say that Paul, a potential 2016 Presidential candidate, is looking to gain ground with non-white voters. Since Paul previously spoke out against bans on racial discrimination by business owners and opposes bans on employment discrimination, he needs all the help he can get. Vocally supporting drug reform could get him there.
Along with Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Paul has authored the Justice Safety Valve Act of 2013. The legislation allows judges to disregard mandatory minimums when it comes to sentencing certain drug offenders.
But all political ambitions aside, the idea has been gaining traction with a surprising number of politicians. The surprise isn’t in the amount…it’s in the affiliation. Of all groups, it’s the Tea Party members who seem most supportive of ending the War on Drugs and changing incarceration laws for drug-related crimes.
In the House of Representatives, Thomas Massie (R-KY) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) have introduced their own bill, similar to the one Paul and Leahy are trying to push. Massie thanked the Tea Party when he won his Congressional election.
Lighting the Way for the Future?
Senator Paul isn’t likely to get support from the drug activists, so it’s lucky he has the Tea Party on his side. He previously made comments that “marijuana use is not healthy,” angering activists who spoke to US News.
Kris Hermes, spokesman for Americans for Safe Access (a group that lobbies for medical marijuana), said that Paul’s comment was based on “fueled fear-mongering instead of sound science.”
The War on Drugs has been an expensive battle for America, and there are many who have lobbied against it. Changing the mandatory sentencing requirements could save a lot of governments of a lot of money, so naturally the Tea Party supports the idea. It’s no surprise that fiscal conservatives like Rand Paul would find themselves on the side of the issue that’s less expensive. But it just so happens that leftist Democrats are on the same side of this particular issue.
They say politics makes for strange bedfellows, but who knew that marijuana would bring two such opposite agendas together?