Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

March 28, 2007

Bob Barr: Medical Marijuana Lobbyist

by Doug Mataconis

Back when he was a Congressman, Bob Barr was at the forefront of a move in Congress to block a referendum in the District of Columbia that would have allowed the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The referendum went forward, but thanks to the Barr Amendment the public wasn’t even allowed to know what the results of the vote were, although it seemed clear that the referendum had passed.

Let’s just say that times have changed. Bob Barr is now retired from Congress, he’s joined the Libertarian Party, and he’s lobbying for the legalization of medical marijuana:

Bob Barr, who as a Georgia congressman authored a successful amendment that blocked D.C. from implementing a medical marijuana initiative, has switched sides and become a lobbyist for the Marijuana Policy Project.

But that doesn’t mean he has become a bong-ripping hippie. He isn’t pro-drug, he said, just against government intrusion.

“I, over the years, have taken a very strong stand on drug issues, but in light of the tremendous growth of government power since 9/11, it has forced me and other conservatives to go back and take a renewed look at how big and powerful we want the government to be in people’s lives,” Barr said.

(…)

Ironically, Barr said he will help lead the fight to give District residents a say on whether to allow medical marijuana — the very thing the “Barr Amendment” denied them in 1998. He will lobby for the rights of states to set their own medical marijuana policy without federal interference.

The four-term former Republican congressman will also work to unplug a youth anti-drug campaign which a recent study showed actually increased the likelihood that all teens would smoke pot.

Some of the commentors over at Hit & Run are accusing Barr of “flip-flopping”, but, like Radley Balko said, I think it’s clear that this is a genuine change of mind on Barr’s part, not a change in position designed to gain votes or political support. If anything this is likely to make him even less welcome among his former allies. However, like Glenn Reynolds, I think it would’ve been nice if Barr had had this change of heart when he actually had the power to do something about the insanity that is the War on Drugs.

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  • http://www.mainstreamlibertarian.com Eric Dondero

    Good for Barr. But one question.

    Which political party did Bob Barr come from?

    Hmmn. Help me out here someone. I done plum forgot.

    Oh yes, that’s right. HE WAS A REPUBLICAN!!

    As were 7 out of 8 of all past Libertarian Party Presidential candidates.

    As was Libertarian Party Founder David Nolan.

    Wonder what all those Geekie Libertarians who were saying that “Republicans are just as bad as Democrats” have to say now?

  • http://www.thelibertypapers.org Doug Mataconis

    Eric,

    All those libertarians left the GOP because they didn’t feel it was a home for people who believed in individual liberty. So I’m not exactly sure what your point is.

    Have you read what Barr is saying about his former party these days ?

  • js290

    Bob Barr was far too libertarian for the Republican Party’s taste.

  • Richard Steeb

    It’s always nice to see enlightenment. Cheryl Miller must have haunted him mercilessly.

  • http://www.canaseed.com Cannabis

    thanks for the information…i am enlighted

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