Memphis Congressman Steve Cohen signed on to co-sponsor a bill that, while not exactly legalizing marijuana, would end the federal crackdown on pot, allowing states to choose whether to regulate, tax or ban pot altogether. The introduction of the bill comes just a week after the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon officially declaring "The War on Drugs." We all know how successful that was.
The fact that progressive Democratic congressmen like Cohen and Barney Frank (Mass.) are teaming up with Republican Ron Paul of Texas seems to confirm the old adage that politics makes strange bedfellows, but it's not all that surprising, given Paul's Libertarian roots. Even less surprising is that Cohen would sign on to the bill. After all, Cohen was at the center of an infamous 1997 pot-smoking incident reported in the Scene:
Cohen is, in fact, so comfortable among journalists that he has been known to step out on the porch and smoke a joint with a group of them at a private party. The easy inference is either that he doesn’t care what the press knows about his habits or that, because they’re doing it too, he figures they’ll never write about it. “It’s a generational thing,” Cohen says of the pot smoking. “I don’t do it very often.”
Of course, the incident was infamous mostly because the reefer-huffing in question took place at a going-away party for a Scene staffer, leaving a bit of egg on our glorious face. (Well, not my glorious face. I started at the paper three months after the incident, so my hands are clean! At least regarding that particular gaffe.)
Does the bill stand a chance of passing? I'd say it's, er, highly doubtful. But here's hoping.