Rob Carlson, Democrat for US Congress
New Jersey District 1
Rob Carlson, Democrat for US Congress
New Jersey District 1
Where I Stand On the Issues

My Positions

Legalize It

Drugs

A drug essay page could well be combined with a law and order essay, but let’s compartmentalize:

As I see it, there are three overarching  aspects to the drug issues in America today– marijuana legalization, the opioid epidemic, and excessive incarceration and punishment.  The root causes of these crises are the profiteers of punishment, the pharmaceutical and alcohol industries, an illogical healthcare system, and obtuse politicians looking to score cheap political points.

Cannabis (known to most as marijuana) should be legal to possess, period.  Medical Cannabis should not be hindered by any state or the federal government.  If one accepts the sovereignty of states (another issue for discussion), regulations should only be in place for sales above certain quantities.  There should never be a situation where an individual is not allowed to grow their own cannabis simply for the benefit of big growers.  Think of this like home brewing.  You can make your own beer, but to distribute for a profit you need a license.

There are plenty of good reasons to legalize.  One, legal cannabis done right will mean less use of the hard stuff.  Two, legal cannabis will take a profit center away from potentially violent criminals (violence is rooted in ruthless pursuit of money). Three, fewer people will be unjustly incarcerated by a prison industrial complex (see below).  And lastly, legal cannabis done correctly will be a profit center for states (or the nation) that will allow for more programs to benefit the disadvantaged.  

Our problem is those who have a vested interest in seeing possession of this plant staying illegal.  The big alcohol distributors (I doubt smaller craft brewers care) worry that profits will be cut if people choose alternate mind-altering drugs to beer, wine or liquor.  The pharmaceutical industry worries that the heavily advertised drug of the day that alters mood or profitable pain-killers won’t be prescribed (and purchased!) as often if people have free and easy access to cannabis. Lastly and probably most heinously, we have a for-profit prison system that has a vested interest in locking people up.

Those making the arguments with lots of money behind them are bad enough.  But it’s really annoying when everyday folks put cannabis on the same level as crack, meth or opiates. It’s a broad ignorant brush.

And regarding opiates…

There are two big problems regarding this scourge.  The medical establishment is scored on patient satisfaction.  Satisfaction to a patient is typically not hurting or feeling good/warm/mellow.  Thus opioids get over-prescribed and two things can happen– those with the prescriptions can become dependent, and those legal opioids can be sold illegally to a a very hungry market.  Typically addicts will prefer known pharmaceuticals to heroin because they know the strength of the drug they are taking.  While that can lessen the chances of overdose, it certainly doesn’t eliminate it as people build up tolerance to drugs.  A person who relapses and is less tolerant than someone who uses all the time might actually be the one who overdoses.

The fact is that anyone who becomes an addict is susceptible to overdose.  The fact is also that an addict (unless given a lot of help) will do whatever it takes to score more of that which keeps them going.  Recovery is hard.  Add that to the problem that in some places (NJ is better than lot of other states) addicts have to fear criminal prosecution (meaning prison time or huge financial hits to get clean).  We certainly don’t make an already very difficult road for addicts any easier with our current approach.  I would urge any who want to really find out more about the opiate issue to listen to Jay Lassiter’s fine podcast series Heroin Uncut.

Lastly we have Prison.  Starting in the 1930’s with Harry J Anslinger’s war on Cannabis waged to oppress African Americans, to Richard Nixon’s incredibly costly (in human suffering even more than monetary terms) “drug war” to Reagan’s demagoguery on the issue, through every single showboating, grandstanding politician who wanted to “lock ’em up”– drug crimes have always been political  crimes.  They exist only to put undesirables in jail, be they African American, Hispanic, or just some poor kid who can’t afford to cough up lawyer money.  This abomination has culminated in the epitome of an unjust and cruel society– for-profit prisons.  Did you you know that the prison guard lobby is one of the strongest opponents of legalization?  Did you know that private prisons aren’t subject to the same standards as government-run institutions?  Did you know that inmates can be kept in literal slave-conditions and that the worse the conditions are and the more over-crowded prisons are the more profitable they are?  Does it bother you that we incentivize incarceration for non-violent crimes? It should.  Some guy smoking cannabis in his own house (or even selling a bit to a few people) isn’t harming people.  The ones harming are the ones propagating and enforcing entirely unjust laws.

As a congressman, I will sponsor legislation to legalize cannabis nationwide, and legislation to outlaw private prisons.
Rob Carlson, Running for US Congress, NJ 1

Law & Order

Here’s a novel idea. Cops should be protecting people from murder, rape and robberies and quit wasting their time on drug offenses. Forfeiture laws are unconstitutional, unfair and stupid. Private prisons are abhorrent. Three strikes laws should not apply to drug offenses. Cops don’t need military assault equipment and the federal government shouldn’t be providing it or pushing it on police forces.