Freedom Fighter of the Month
October 2009 – Rep. Steve Cohen
By Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator
Congressman Steve Cohen joins Rep. Barney Frank as the only politicians to be named Freedom Fighter of the Month in nineteen years. Rep. Cohen wins for his defense of the truth in the face of standard Washington “reefer madness”. While questioning FBI Director Robert Mueller in May about the bloodshed in Mexico, Cohen shot down Mueller’s prohibitionist talking points one by one (see http://tr.im/cohen for the video).
When Mueller tried to defend the war on drugs by saying he’s seen “successes” in reducing drug use, Cohen asks, “Do you have any statistics? Statistics I see say that more people are using, say, marijuana… because the public has a feeling about use of certain drugs… Is there a better way… a system of legalization, that might be effective in stemming the tide of drugs from Mexico… have you considered this as a possibility?”
Mueller then tries to explain that drug use happens in “waves”, claiming he can’t answer the question because too many parents have lost their lives to drugs. Cohen immediately asks, “Name me a couple of parents who’ve lost their lives to marijuana?” and follows up with facts on first “drug czar” Harry Anslinger’s racist campaign to prohibit cannabis.
Mueller’s last gasp is to invoke the parents whose children overdosed from drugs, kids who “inevitably started with marijuana.” Cohen’s response is a quote we at NORML never expected to hear from a Congressman from Tennessee:
“They probably started off with milk and then went to beer, and then they went to bourbon, and then they might have gone to marijuana. The gateway theory doesn’t work. It’s a reality.”
We usually reserve the Freedom Fighter of the Month for citizen activists working to end marijuana prohibition. For Rep. Cohen’s brave insistence that the emperor is naked, we’ll make an exception.