In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, U.S. Representative for Florida and head of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, said she opposed legalization of marijuana and called it a gateway drug.
“I don’t oppose the use of medical marijuana," she said. "I just don’t think we should legalize more mind-altering substances if we want to make it less likely that people travel down the path toward using drugs. We have had a resurgence of drug use instead of a decline. There is a huge heroin epidemic.”
Considering that there is a known correlation (one acknowledged by the U.S. government) between heroin addiction and the over-prescription of opiate painkillers, such as Oxycontin, it seems odd that Schultz is resorting to false equivalencies by equating opiates and pot.
Another troubling statement made by Schultz was that her opinions were formed by personal experience “both as a mom and as someone who grew up really bothered by the drug culture that surrounded my childhood—not mine. I grew up in suburbia.”
Indeed, she grew up in an affluent part of Long Island. One can only assume the “drug culture that surrounded” her childhood was the one happening miles away in New York City during the 1970s when another heroin crisis was rampant.
One can’t help but notice that Schultz’s stance on pot has directly contributed to the marginalization of people who did not necessarily grow up in affluent suburbs.
Marijuana criminalization is currently the cause for almost half of drug arrests in the U.S., according to an ACLU report. In Florida alone, misdemeanor possession of 20 grams or less of marijuana can result in a $1000 fine and a year in prison.
Such facts beg the question: how can the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, which governs the U.S. Democratic Party on a day-to-day basis, appear to be so misinformed about an issue of such importance, not only to her own state of Florida but also to the rest of the country?
The New York Times shed some light on that question.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, alcohol PACs are one of the largest sources of her re-election campaign funding. Her PACs include Bacardi USA, the National Beer Wholesalers Association, Southern Wine & Spirits and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.
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