Even Though He Doesn't Smoke It Anymore, Marijuana Is at the Core of Kinky Friedman's Run for Public Office

Political gadfly Kinky Friedman thinks winning the Agriculture Commissioner race is the key to legalizing marijuana in Texas.

Within days of resigning as the chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers baseball team, the former Astros great launched trial balloons in the press hinting at a run for Agriculture Commissioner. (The filing deadline for the race is December 9, a little less than three weeks away.)

But Nugent and Ryan aren't the only celebrities throwing their weight into the race. Longtime legalization advocate, marijuana connoisseur and Texas country-music icon Willie Nelson has pledged to help his friend Friedman's campaign with its fundraising.

With all those musicians involved, the campaign songs they generate alone will be worth the price of admission.

Couple Friedman, Ryan, Miller, Nelson and Nugent with the other Republican candidates — virtually unknown Uvalde mayor J. Allen Carnes, former state representative Tommy Merritt of Longview and attorney/Republican strategist/Tea Party favorite Opiela of Karnes City — and the elements for a bizarre who-knows-what-idiocies-will-be-uttered campaign even by recent Texas standards seem to be in place.

"A few months ago I wasn't sure it was time to bring up marijuana," Friedman explains, waving his cigar for emphasis, "but there's been tremendous backlash and fallout from the government shutdown that seems to have opened the door to possibilities that didn't exist before that. And there's extreme backlash about the Republican shenanigans that took place in the special session of the legislature.

Friedman, the only Democrat on the primary ballot so far, says he also intends to push for the revitalization of the hemp industry in Texas and the legalization of casino gambling. He ticks off drought remediation, water conservation and development, and the growing feral-hog population as urgent problems to be addressed. But legalizing pot will be his go-to issue.

"Couple that with Dr. Sanjay Gupta's change of heart on marijuana plus recent polls showing the U.S. population in favor of legalization," he says, " [and] that makes a pretty strong argument in my mind that people are ready for some common sense to prevail."

Friedman is referring to CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, who was against medicinal use and legalization for years but did a complete about-face when his special "Weed" aired in August.

In a summary of the program, Gupta wrote, "I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency listed marijuana as a Schedule 1 substance because of sound scientific proof. Surely, they must have quality reasoning as to why marijuana is in the category of the most dangerous drugs that have 'no accepted medicinal use and a high potential for abuse.' They didn't have the science to support that claim, and I now know that when it comes to marijuana neither of those things are true. It doesn't have a high potential for abuse, and there are very legitimate medical applications. In fact, sometimes marijuana is the only thing that works."

Gupta went on to state, "We have been terribly and systematically misled for nearly 70 years in the United States, and I apologize for my own role in that."

"Twenty states are already allowing medical use," says Friedman. "Is Texas going to be the last state to allow it? This is something we need to put on the table and discuss immediately because there's all kinds of positive research. This stuff can help a lot of very sick people and that's the right thing to do.

"We've got M.D. Anderson in Houston, the top cancer research hospital in the world, but we're not even letting them look into marijuana?" he scoffs. "The top cancer experts in the world aren't looking into this? That's not just crazy, it's inhumane."
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In spite of high name recognition and support from celebrities like Nelson, Friedman carries plenty of baggage into the race. Influential Democrats still hold grudges over his 2006 independent run for governor, in which Friedman garnered 12 percent of the popular vote and was blamed by some for pulling votes and money away from moderate Democratic candidate Chris Bell of Houston. Democratic officials also blame Friedman for a lack of support for former Houston mayor Bill White's run for governor in 2010.

But while most statewide Democratic Party operatives have frostily ignored Friedman's candidacy, on November 7 the Al Jazeera news network filmed a segment at his ranch. He's already had one interview with Fox News talk-show maven Don Imus, who supported Friedman in previous races.

Although the race for Agriculture Commissioner is not usually a particularly high-profile contest, the office has been a springboard for numerous Texas politicians with higher aspirations. Most notably, Governor Rick Perry served from 1991 until 1999, when he ran for lieutenant ­governor.

Despite its lack of day-to-day visibility, with one in seven Texans working in agriculture and an annual gross revenue of around $100 billion, the office affects a crucial segment of the Texas economy.

But if Friedman is expecting rousing support from other Texas Democrats who are concerned about certain marijuana-related issues, he's likely to be disappointed. In this past legislative session, Fort Worth's Lon Burnam and Houston's Harold Dutton sponsored a bill to reduce marijuana possession sentences that never made it out of the powerful Calendar Committee, which decides when bills will be brought to the House floor for debate. Burnam says he hopes another candidate will step forward to challenge Friedman in the Democratic primary.

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23 comments
cdjtiger
cdjtiger

I'm voting  twice  for Kinky ....   

maxine.thomas
maxine.thomas

It makes no sense to me why either one of these folks would want to run.  Yes they both have land but neither can find their A _ _ with two hands and a flashlight.  Nolan Ryan's name actually came up at lunch today as someone who can't manage and is a 1% team owner of the of the Rangers for name recognition only.  Heck he was forced to step down just last October as CEO.  You can see his ranch land here http://secure.oginfo.com/fastmaps/fxmaps/flexgov_lite/mcmullencad.php#county=MCMULLEN


I haven't looked for Kinkys

aliasetc
aliasetc topcommenter

Kinky for president! Why the hell not?

cafelinus
cafelinus

It don't matter who's in Austin Bob Wills is still the king.

(How long have I been waiting to use that on KF story thread? Years, years.)

pickrick4texasag
pickrick4texasag

I want to know his Qualifications to run! Seems he runs a pet rescue ranch that does NOT meet State Agriculture Code requirements to be a serious candidate ?

johncoby
johncoby

The man is no dumbass. His simple minded campaign on pot will attract the simple minded and we have a LOT of them in Texas.

The reality is that as Ag Commissioner he will have absolutely NO say on whether weed will be legalized here in Texas (and it wont). The house and senate will have to file, debate, and vote on the bill, all that the Commissioner will not be able to do. And the governor will have to sign it. The House and senate will never debate this bill. It will never be voted on. Yet this dumbass will use the issue to get other dumbasses dope heads to vote for him.

Puller58
Puller58

I don't take the Kinkster too seriously.  Checking his songs on YouTube makes me realize his "airtime" on the radio was "0" for good reason.  Never read any of his books, and his comments on Katrina refugees sounds like Howard Stern on a lame day.  Run all you want Kinky, but even Jim Hightower has a better shot.

Russ McClung
Russ McClung

Who cares? It's not like we're running short of dumbed down unmotivated people.. Legalizing pot just might make a few people put the pipe down ;)

sweetcookies3333
sweetcookies3333

the greatest plant in the universe is almost free, LET FREEDOM RING


20 years behind us Texas, it's not like you to trail us in anything, im disappointed....better to let the free yankee states get all the marijuana $$$ and the power, eh?.....figure it out texans


AMERICA'S WAR ON DRUGS IS A WAR ON AMERICANS!!!33

Nelo Maciel
Nelo Maciel

legalization is just around the corner

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

@maxine.thomas Time to wake up and quit thinking in the old way about this stuff. If Kinky wins the primary run-off -- and very likely will -- then look out, the sky is the limit, especially if people who haven't been turning out to vote come to the polls. Kinky's the only one who isn't reading from the same old script that has gotten Dems nowhere for two decades. 

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

@pickrick4texasag I'm gonna vote for honest, unbought politician and Kinky looks like the only one of those in this race. The Republicans in the race so far are all cardboard Rick Perry cutouts whose only qualifications seem to be that they know very well what corporate whores are supposed to do.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

@johncoby I agree with Zip, you're an idiot. And it looks like you don't read very well. He clearly states he knows AG Com can't introduce the law. Wait til your son or daughter is doing six months in a for profit prison and get back to me with your Dark Ages view of this issue.


Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah
Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah topcommenter

@johncoby You are an idiot…..The Kinkster has my vote cuz he went to my junior high school and he is the real deal…..oh and he is on the right side of the fence regarding cannabis

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

@Puller58 So you're going to vote for some Republican cardboard cuttout politician I guess? I'll take KF over anyone in the race. And the legalization thing is just a bonus.

WhiteLightning
WhiteLightning

@Russ McClung People in prison care, Ross. People with family in prison care. Taxpayers who are tired of paying hundreds of millions for the "drug war" care. I guess you've got more important issues? Vaginas? Zero gun control? Flag burning? Yeah, your aloofness and superiority are so cool. Thanks for your superior-to-everyone yawn. 

 
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