Michael D. Smigiel, Sr.
Maryland Rep. Harris (R) exemplified the worst in big government overreach by interfering with D.C. voters’ attempt to follow Colorado, Washington State and others in exercising political autonomy with Initiative 71, which would have established procedures for the production and sale of marijuana in the District. The initiative appeared on theballot and was overwhelmingly approved by voters last year, only to have Rep. Harris successfully lead the effort to block the D.C. government’s implementation efforts. Since that time, several unintended consequences have resulted from Rep. Harris’ paternalism.
D.C. is still unable to tax and or otherwise control the manufacturing and distribution of marijuana, thus is losing out on tens of millions of dollars of new tax revenue.
Harris’ vote against D.C. decriminalization is also a vote to continue a racist application of antiquated drug laws which keep men and women of color incarcerated at a disproportional rate.
When drugs like marijuana are illegal there is an ability for urban poor to become entrepreneurs of an illegal substance, and with severe penalties as currently instituted, it is enough to keep those with non-violent offenses from ever rising out of the cycle of poverty.
Should the illegal economy be removed then individuals, like Congressman Harris, who see themselves as the protectors of D.C., would need to deal with the real problems of urban poverty, lack of jobs and failing schools. While removing the severe penalties for possession of drugs like marijuana is an important step, leadership must work in tandem to create a pathway of choices for youth who would otherwise participate in the drug economy.
Harris’ vote against D.C. not only exemplifies the overreach of big government it is also indicative of an arrogance where the elected servants of our government presume to have a better understanding of our needs than we, the electorate do.
Harris’ disdain for any use of marijuana became evident when he voted against Blumenauer’s (OR-D) Amendment on HR 2029, which would have allowed Veterans to be prescribed medical marijuana to be used to treat PTSD, prevent suicides, and for pain.
The Republican Party has a hypocrisy problem when it condemns “big brother government” and yet endorses the federal government when it overrules the will of the electorate or when that federal government stands between a wounded warrior and the medication his or her doctor deems most appropriate.
It is time for Congressman Harris and other Establishment Republicans to practice what they preach regarding smaller government and belief in an educated, free, and viable electorate able to make intelligent decisions about their own futures.
Congress should allow D.C. to tax the sale of marijuana and to have the same autonomy that states like Colorado, Washington State, and others currently are exercising in experimenting with the legalization of marijuana. The principle of a federal system of government applies to the citizens of D.C. just as it applies to the citizens of autonomous states. Free people should be allowed the chance to go to the polls and choose their path free from an overreaching national government.
The States which have chosen to exercise their sovereignty with regards to the use of marijuana are susceptible to Congressional intervention just as D.C. has been interfered with by Congressman Harris’.
Now is the time for states to unite behind D.C. to remove Congressmen Harris from office and send a commanding message to all of Congress that every Senator and Representative shall either respect the 10th Amendment as it applies to the states and the autonomy of all American people, or they too will be voted out come the next election. The power is with the people who Congress is charged with representing, and it is not the business of Congress to second-guess the will of the majority of the people.
Michael Smigiel served in the Maryland legislature from 2003 through 2015 and has always been a supporter of medical marijuana legislation. In 2014 Michael was the co-lead sponsor on the bill that decriminalized marijuana use in Maryland. Michael is now a candidate for the 1st Congressional seat currently occupied by Congressman Andy Harris. You can learn more about Michael by going to www.smigielforcongress.com.