Ron Paul: Congress 'drinks a lot of alcohol' but won't legalize pot
Members of Congress like to guzzle the booze, but when it comes to the questions of drugs and states' rights, don't ask them for a friendly ear.
That's the overriding message carried by Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul on a Friday night appearance with Stephen Baldwin on CNN's Larry King Live.
Paul, who appeared on the show with Baldwin apparently on short notice, at first appeared ill-prepared for the topic. Guest host Joy Behar, having played a clip of Olympian Michael Phelps' public apology for the infamous photo of him holding a water pipe, asked for the congressman's thoughts.
"I'm sorry, over the what?" Paul asked.
"The photo," said Behar. "The Michael Phelps photo. What was your reaction to all that, what happened with Michael Phelps? I mean, he basically lost a lot of his endors ..."
"Oh!" Paul exclaimed. "Meh. That whole thing is a mess. I think it's outrageous. We're getting carried away with the War on Drugs. That's how silly the whole thing gets."
Arguing from a self-titled "faith-based, conservative perspective" was Stephen Baldwin. The choice of Baldwin is particularly odd considering he's appeared in so-called "stoner movies" before, such as Half Baked, where he played the "MacGyver Smoker," and the attempted comedy Bio Dome, where he co-starred with similarly famed actor Pauly Shore.
Calling his efforts part of "two very popular marijuana films," Baldwin even acknowledged his filmography as a point of credibility to bolster his argument that "marijuana leads to doing worse things."
"That's just a fact," claimed Baldwin. "I don't care what anybody says. What the debate is. If you smoke marijuana at a young age, that'll usually lead to alcohol abuse and harder drugs."
Paul dismissed his concern as "silly."
"The most addictive drug in the country, in the world, is nicotine," he said. "Nobody talks about nicotine being a gateway drug, so there's no sense to that. And besides, [marijuana] is not nearly as addictive as alcohol. If you're a consistent person and you think the government should be regulating personal behavior, you should be in favor of prohibition of alcohol."
Attributing the earlier prohibition for the creation of "the Al Capone's," he drew a clear connection between current prohibition policies in the US and the escalating cartel war in Mexico.
"You know the people who benefit most by these laws?" he asked. "These are the drug cartels. They lobby to keep these laws in place because they can't exist without them."
On the next point, medical marijuana, Baldwin suggested alternatives such as "lots of pain relieving practices that people can study." But, he also seemed to bear a tolerance for terminally-ill patients smoking marijuana as prescribed by a doctor.
But, Baldwin insisted, legalizing marijuana would drive up the number of impaired drivers on the roads, resulting in untold deaths "just so we can tax it."
"I understand there's a few people who smoke marijuana already," said Paul, laughing. "And, how many times have you seen someone arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana? I mean, I've never heard of it! Driving under the influence of alcohol ... That is dangerous."
Paul attributed current laws to a widespread fear of political retribution in Congress, among many members who "drink a lot of alcohol" at that.
"Are you saying that there are a lot of alcoholics in Congress?" asked guest host Joy Behar.
Paul backpedaled. "I said there's a lot of people in Congress who drink a lot of alcohol."
"They won't vote to legalize it," he added with a laugh.
CNN has a full transcript available here.
This video is from CNN's Larry King Live, broadcast Mar. 13, 2009.
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