High times: Mar­i­juana project par­ties with for­mer anti-drug zealot Barr

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Va­lerie Richard­son

DEN­VER — Bob Barr has been to the Dark Side, and they do in­deed have cook­ies.

The Liber tar ian Na­tional Con­ven­tion kicked off May 22 with a tea-and-cook­ies re­cep­tion hosted by the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project fea­tur­ing none other than Mr. Barr, the party’s lead­ing can­di­date for its pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

Such a scene would have been un­think­able a few years ago when Mr. Barr’s name was syn­ony­mous with the war on drugs. In 1998, he au­thored the Barr Amend­ment, which pro­hib­ited the Dis­trict of Columbia from vot­ing to per­mit med­i­cal-mar­i­juana use and be­came a light­ning rod for drug-le­gal­iza­tion ad­vo­cates.

But times have changed. Af­ter leav­ing the Repub­li­can Party in 2006, Mr. Barr de­nounced the fed­eral drug war and be­came a lob­by­ist for his for­mer neme­ses at the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project.

One of his top pri­or­i­ties dur­ing the last con­gres­sional ses­sion was the re­peal of his own amend­ment, which has re­mained par t of the con­gres­sional ap­pro­pri­a­tions bill for the Distr ict of Columbia even though Mr. Barr left of­fice in 2002.

“Ten years ago, we were nat­u­ral en­e­mies,” said Br uce Mirken, spokesman for the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project. “But peo­ple do change their minds some­times. He’s been evolv­ing over the last few years on le­gal­iza­tion is­sues, and we’re al­ways happy when peo­ple come over to our side.”

Among those ex­pected to give the May 25 nom­i­nat­ing speeches for Mr. Barr at the con­ven­tion was Rob Kampia, the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project’s ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, who praised the can­di­date for hav­ing the courage of his con­vic­tions.

“It’s very rare to find some­one who’s will­ing to change their po­si­tion and then be so pub­lic about it,” Mr. Kampia said. “He’s def­i­nitely in­creased the credi- bil­ity of the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project. Peo­ple have to take us se­ri­ously when we walk through the door with Bob Barr.”

Mr. Barr ad­dressed his po­si­tion on the drug le­gal­iza­tion May 22 in an on­line con­ver­sa­tion with the Rocky Moun­tain News.

“Re­gard­ing the drug war, I’ve been there, done that, and know first­hand our cur­rent strat­egy is not work­ing,” said Mr. Barr.

“Con­tin­u­ing to have the fed­eral gov­ern­ment run roughshod over the states, even if the cit­i­zens of a state de­cide they wish to le­gal­ize medic­i­nal mar­i­juana, for ex­am­ple, is wrong,” he said. “As pres­i­dent, I would com­pletely re­ori­ent fed­eral law en- force­ment pri­or­i­ties, that cur­rently are skewed far too much against mar­i­juana pos­ses­sion, and would con­sider all — and I do mean all — op­tions.”

The Lib­er­tar­ian Party plat­form calls for the re­peal of drug laws and the par­don­ing of non­vi­o­lent drug of­fend­ers.

“The suf­fer­ing that drug mis­use has brought about is de­plorable; how­ever, drug pro­hi­bi­tion causes more harm than drugs them­selves,” the plat­form reads. “The so-called ‘War on Drugs’ is in re­al­ity a war against the Amer­i­can peo­ple, our Con­sti­tu­tion and the Bill of Rights. It is a grave threat to in­di­vid­ual lib­erty, to do­mes­tic or­der and to peace in the world.”

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