Maybe, maybe not. Dean Kuipers, author of Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went Up in Smoke, over at Los Angeles CityBeat, reports on the optimism and the pessimism as Dennis Kucinich, a mild drug war skeptic, becomes chair of the House Government Reform and Oversight subcommittee on domestic policy. Some excerpts:
This subcommittee replaces the now-defunct Criminal Justice, Drug Policy, and Human Resources subcommittee, which was headed up by staunch drug warrior, Rep. Mark Souder (R-IN). Kucinich will assume many of his oversight duties, including policy oversight of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and appointed Drug Czar John Walters. One commentator on Stopthedrugwar.org crowed that "the responsibility of overseeing the ONDCP has effectively been transferred from Congress's most reckless drug warrior to its most outspoken drug policy reformer."
Washington insiders, however, are not holding their breath for great upheaval in federal drug policy overall. Sources close to the appointment, who asked not to be named, say that Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other members of the Democratic leadership have effectively embargoed major crime or drug policy legislation for the next two years, to avoid looking soft on crime in the 2008 election.
Kucinich, however, is promising a couple years of entertaining and edifying hearings.
"We're going to open up the discussion to new hearings," says Kucinich, interviewed Sunday in Culver City, where he presented his bill for Universal Health Care, which is co-sponsored by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). "We want to explore the federal government's policies and the Department of Justice's policies on medical marijuana, for example. We need to also look at the drug laws that have brought about mandatory minimum sentences that have put people in jail for long periods of time.
Whole article goes into more detail on what maybe possibly could happen in terms of sentencing and medical marijuana reform, with more comments from various figures in the fight for drug sanity.
Jacob Sullum interviewed author Dean Kuipers about Burning Rainbow Farm in our January issue.