Fanciful and wishful thinking aside, the Republican House Minority Leader's smoke of choice is Camel Ultra Lights, which he puffs religiously. But an exchange from his recent appearance on CBS' Face the Nation got me thinking:
Bob Schieffer asked how Boehner squared taking money from the tobacco lobby given the widely-acknowledged health hazards posed by cigarettes and the 435,000 deaths a year attributed to it.
"Tobacco is a legal product in America," Boehner said. "The American people have a right to decide for themselves whether they want to partake or not. There are lots of things that we deal with and come in contact with every day, from alcohol to food to cigarettes, a lot of the things that aren't good for our health. But the American people ought to have the right to make those decisions on their own."
Schieffer countered: "They have a right to shoot themselves if they choose to, but I mean, shouldn't we do something to try to encourage them not to? I mean, do you think that's a good example? "
"Well listen, I wish I didn't have this bad habit -- and it is a bad habit -- you've had it, you've dealt with it, but it's something that I choose to do, and you know at some point, maybe I'll decide I've had enough of it," Boehner responded.
Why couldn't that exchange apply to marijuana? Aside from the "legal product" part, which may change here in California in November, Boehner's comments could easily apply to marijuana. It would be wise at this point to note that alcohol, food and cigarettes kill more people every year than marijuana has in the history of the earth. Add hardcore physical addiction and lack of medical use for alcohol and tobacco (not to mention the addictive nature of many kinds of processed food) and marijuana looks comparatively safer on every count. So why can't the people choose for themselves?
Boehner's statements have a strong Libertarian slant, especially in that "the American people ought to have the right to make those decisions on their own." If that's true for lethal and addictive products like cigarettes and alcohol, why wouldn't it be true for recreational use of non-lethal, medicinal cannabis? Aside from a status quo that exists more for law enforcement budgets, prison guard union jobs and reasons to arrest minorities, there is no reason why as Americans we can make the same choices for ourselves that Boehner makes for himself.
On that note, I would like to personally invite John Boehner to smoke some of California's finest cannabis and choose a healthier habit than cigarettes, sunburns and obstructionism. I'll happily pack the first bowl!
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