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.

"I like Kinky okay, but I just don't see him having the administrative mind-set that job requires," says the nine-term state legislator, also noting that he regrets the timing of Friedman's interjection of such a controversial issue into the 2014 race.

"For the first time in a while, we have a candidate for governor who has a real chance, so I hate to see the introduction of an issue that could create confusion for some voters," says Burnam, who does admit he would vote for Friedman against Nolan Ryan.

Austin Democratic representative and vice-chairman of the Public Health committee Elliott Naish­tat has a different reason for not supporting Friedman's call for legalization. Naish­tat entered the Texas House in 1991, the same year Texas's last Democratic governor, Ann Richards, was sworn in, and has been sponsoring medical marijuana bills in almost every legislative session since 2001 without success. But he sees progress on the issue and feels Friedman's push for legalization may only confuse the matter.

"We've been careful not to bring the legalization issue into the discussion when we talk about medical use," Naish­tat explains. "The way our bill is framed, it simply allows a judge to dismiss a case if it is clear that the person has a valid medical need and is acting on a doctor's recommendation.

"Say a doctor says to a patient that marijuana might work in their specific case," he continues. "We just want there to be a mechanism where, if that person is later cited or arrested, they can go before a judge and say, 'Look, Judge, I'm not a criminal; I'm not dealing in drugs. I have a condition this is helping, and my doctor suggested I try it.'

"Our bill simply allows the judge the leeway to review the facts in the case and dismiss charges if the use is truly medical and doctor-recommended," Naish­tat concludes. "But in no way does our bill seek to make marijuana legal."

The legislator notes that Texans seem to be waking up to the idea of medicinal use.

"In the last session, we finally held a hearing for the bill in the Public Health committee," he says. "Some of the testimony — by doctors and patients — was so compelling it actually had some people crying. I'm very encouraged, and I believe we will eventually get a bill to the floor for debate, but I think movement in this area will be incremental rather than sudden.

"The moves by other states regarding medical marijuana haven't gone unnoticed," Naish­tat explains. "But this is Texas, and no candidate for office wants to risk being labeled soft on crime."

Confronted with the lack of support even by Democrats who are on the front line of marijuana reform in the state, Friedman says he has no problem with positive forces like Burnam and Naish­tat distancing themselves from his push for legalization. What he returns to over and over in conversation is that marijuana arrests are a key driver in the profitability of private prisons and that some powerful financial interests will be threatened by ­legalization.

"The governor and his cronies want to talk about reducing the size of government?" says Friedman. "Well, why are they all for these for-profit prison operations? How does putting 70,000 people in those private jails help us? Keeping pot illegal and jailing users for profit, this doesn't help the people of Texas; this helps the outlaws who operate the illegal drug business and don't pay taxes. How smart is that?"

"Look at history, look at what happened when Prohibition was lifted," he continues. "The turf wars were over because the criminals lost their source of revenue. The legitimate liquor companies got stronger, and that's a vigorous, profitable industry today that results in significant tax revenues. I think the same thing will happen when we legalize marijuana."

As for how it plays out if he actually wins the election, Friedman sees a fairly quick move by the legislature to legalize the drug.

"Politicians move with the voters," he observes. "If I win this running on legalizing marijuana, I think you'll see a lot of position-shifting on the issue and a scramble to see who gets a bill onto the Governor's desk first."
_____________________

While he never made it out of the Democratic primary in a bid for the agriculture seat in 2010, Friedman insists he is not only going to run a serious, aggressive campaign — "people keep bringing up about how serious I am, so am I supposed to quit smiling or something?" — he believes he can be the first Democrat elected to statewide office in almost two decades. He was pondering another run for the governor's office, this time as a Democrat rather than as an independent, until Wendy Davis officially declared her ­candidacy.

"I'll be fully supporting Wendy Davis," Friedman says now. "I realize she may have to distance herself from me and the marijuana issue, but that's all right. I think I'll pull in a bloc of independent voters that she might not reach otherwise, and hopefully they'll vote for both of us. The better Wendy does, the better we'll do.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
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. 

 
Houston Concert Tickets
Loading...