Barack Obama

Establishment vs. the Drug War


David Fleming, long one of L.A.'s most powerful private citizens, has now become one of its most powerful advocates for drug legalization. The L.A. Daily News has produced a profile of Fleming and his wife Jean, who together have created a new medical-marijuana docudrama entitled Smoke Screen.

"The War on Drugs has cost the American taxpayer $1 trillion since 1972," he said. "We're paying $69 billion a year to make a health problem into a criminal one."

That's the libertarian side of him talking - he's also a board member of the Reason Foundation. But while Fleming can go on at length about drug stats from a policy standpoint, he's also got a personal stake.

His wife, a former Miss Illinois turned actress, suffers debilitating pain from post-polio syndrome. Several months ago, she obtained a prescription for medical marijuana. At night, she takes a few drops of liquid THC or snacks on a pot brownie to ease the pain.

"Here's Jeannie, well-to-do and a pillar of society, using marijuana," Fleming said.

"And I could be thrown in prison by Bush," she interjected.

That's Bush as in President George W. - the one who named her husband as a trustee for the James Madison Foundation, a group of politicians, jurists and two private citizens that hands out scholarships for teachers. Fleming has a photo of him and the president in his office.

The couple have an unusual marriage. He hangs with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. She wears a Barack Obama T-shirt. The two disagree on many political issues, but they vehemently agree about the need for drug-policy reform.

"Look, I'm an old lady, so I can say what I want to," she said. "In the '60s, I used to go to parties where cocaine was passed around and snorted. Nothing ever went up my nose, but I smoked marijuana."

Whole thing, well worth a read, here. (Link via L.A. Observed.)