Who Cares if Norm Coleman Smoked Pot? Norm Kent Does.

When Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., was in college, he smoked pot.  If his former college roommate is to believed, he smoked a lot of it.

Angered by a letter from Coleman that expressed support for continued prohibition on marijuana, Norm Kent sent a letter back to Coleman and copied it to the website CelebStoner.com

“Years ago, in a lifetime far away, you did not oppose the legalization of marijuana. Years ago, in our dorm rooms at Hofstra University, you, me, Billy, your future brother-in-law, Ivan, Jonathan, Peter, Janet, Nancy and a wealth of other students smoked dope,” Kent said. 

Kent detailed a number of alleged times Coleman smoked marijuana, including at a number of protests.  And he blasted Coleman for being hypocritical for changing his tune now.

“How about admitting that if the Rockefeller drug laws were applied to Norman Bruce Coleman on Long Island in 1968, or to me, or to our friends, and fellow students, you, I and others we knew and loved might just be getting out of jail now?” asked Kent.  “How about recognizing that for too long too many have been wrongly arrested, unjustly prosecuted and illegally incarcerated for unconscionable periods of time?”

Kent’s missive to his former friend is interesting for its lack of uniqueness.  Many of our leaders dabbled in pot as college students, and many more had friends who did.  And yet these people survived to live productive lives, instead of getting hooked on drugs.

colemanI’ve never smoked pot.  Indeed, aside from the times I drank when I was underage, I’ve never ingested any illegal drugs.  But I have friends who smoked pot in college, friends who smoked pot around me.  And they’ve grown up to be successful and productive members of society.  Most of them have quit smoking pot, but a few still do once in a while, and somehow they manage to survive from day to day.

There are drugs out there that need to be outlawed.  Heroin and methamphetamines and cocaine are tremendously addictive and extraordinarily bad for people, and there’s no reason for them to be made legal anytime soon.  But the message about these drugs’ dangers is blunted by the government’s continued war on pot, whether it be in fighting recreational users or in going after those using marijuana to treat chronic illness.

Let’s be honest, folks: Marijuana is not a major health hazard.  Oh, it’s not particularly good for you, but neither is alcohol or tobacco or French silk pie.  But it’s arguably no worse for you than alcohol; indeed, it’s arguably better. 

And yet we still as a society make the penalty for using pot draconian.  If Norm Coleman had been busted for possession at age 19, he may have avoided jail time — but he would have lost his financial aid, a casualty of our continued war on drugs, which makes any conviction on drug charges an automatic disqualifier.  More than a few students today are facing the reality that they can’t go to college anymore because they did the exact same thing Coleman did at their age.  Which future senator are we disqualifying?

As a society, we need a good reason to make something illegal.  If pot was meth, making people paranoid and self-destructive and dangerous, then that would be a good reason.  But pot is more like alcohol: a mild drug that people use for personal enjoyment.  If Norm Coleman’s former roommate is to be believed, Coleman did just that many times, and he grew up to be a U.S. senator.  Al Gore used pot liberally, and grew up to be vice president.

I don’t care if these men, or dozens of others of our leaders, smoked dope.  Indeed, with Norm active in the 60’s counterculture, I would only have been surprised if he’d claimed not to have done so.  What I do care about is that these people, who have actually used these drugs and know their effects, choose to continue arguing that these drugs are uniformly bad.  If Coleman wishes to expound on why pot was a serious negative in his life, he should do so.  But if it wasn’t a negative in his life, he should have the guts to admit it and the guts to start working to focus our drug laws on the real threats to our society.

(Crossposted from Minnesota Monitor)

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16 Comments

Filed under 10_jeff_fecke

16 responses to “Who Cares if Norm Coleman Smoked Pot? Norm Kent Does.

  1. oddjob

    I wonder what Al Franken will have to say about this (if anything)?

  2. Well said, Jeff. I’ve posted a couple of times about this recently (albeit coming at the question from a different direction).

  3. “I wonder what Al Franken will have to say about this?”

    Could it please be “i quit”?

    Somebody needs to take out coleman, and won’t be al. considering how weak normie the bushite minion *ought* to be…al is picking up 36% of likely voters? we’re so screwed.

  4. Brynn

    Great post, Jeff! I was just venting with an Irish coworker today about how detestable I’ve always found the “War on Drugs” and how it paved the way for the “War on Terror.” Interestingly, both took their names from LBJ’s well meaning, generous spirited and successful “War on Poverty,” but with quite a twist. Americans can thank the WOD and WOT for a massive and historic diversion of tax revenues from social programs to law enforcement, the military industrial complex, and the expanding prison industry, along with a major curtailment or outright revocation of civil rights. And for what? Never have two programs designed for two specific goals done more to promote their total opposites. Given that the one was somewhat of an outgrowth of the other and the efforts, supposed goals, and theatres of battle have overlapped from the beginning, how about we get real and start calling it simply the “War on Behalf of Drugs and Terror”?

  5. Dan

    Remeber, another reason to vote Democrat: A Democrat in office means lower pot prices!

    mmmm….French silk pie

  6. Melissa McEwan

    yet these people survived to live productive lives, instead of getting hooked on drugs

    Totally. The disinformation campaign about drugs that’s fed to kids is total bullshit. If you hear that marijuana and heroin are equally likely to ruin your life, and you try marijuana and it’s obviously no big deal, why not try heroin (which is)?

    I’ve smoked a shitload (maybe even two shitloads) of pot; I’ve dropped acid; I’ve eaten shrooms. I’ve never done anything addictive (except booze and cigarettes, which are, of course, legal and the latter of which I became addicted to and used for 14 years). Not only did I survive to live a productive life; I was living a productive life while doing drugs. I went to university, got good grades, had a job in addition to classes, graduated cum laude in four years, got a job at which I stayed for six years and at which my boss knew I was a stoner and tripper off-hours and didn’t give a rat’s ass. By the time I left that job (at which I’d started as a receptionist), I’d been promoted half a dozen times and had a private office overlooking Lake Michigan.

    I’d tell the anti-drug nuts to put that in their pipes and smoke it, but, ya know…they don’t do that sort of thing.

  7. Pingback: University Update - Al Gore - Who Cares if Norm Coleman Smoked Pot? Norm Kent Does.

  8. I was living a productive life while doing drugs.

    The most productive job I ever had was at a place where toking up was basically a requirement. Whenever the owner showed up, we would have a “staff meeting” that consisted of Owner whipping out a huge spliff that we would smoke while catching up on inventory levels, etc. And despite being “wasted” all the time, I managed to increase sales at the store by more than 50% over a three month period – and getting “headhunted” by another bidnessman in the area, who eventually offered me a partnership in his company.

  9. larkohio

    The ban on pot works about as well as the ban on alchohol did. It just makes many productive good people into criminals. It is stupid, and a waste of money!

  10. Kate217

    But… but… but….

    It’s a gaaaaaaaaaaaaateway drug! 8-/

  11. Thanks Jeff. You might also like to know that cannabis has never caused a human fatality. This cannot be said for alcohol, tobacco, or any other commonly used drug.

    Heck, it can’t even be said for water.

  12. Thank you Jeff.

    Your article was just e-mailed to me, and is right on point, capturing the essence of what I was trying to do.

    I am not out to hurt Norm Coleman. I am out to reform drug policy. That is what the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is about (norml.com)

    I am out to ask Senator Coleman and countless other legislators to stand up and say, ‘Let’s Be Real’ on drug policy.

    When the Office of National Drug Control Policy can release a statement saying marijuana smokers are likely to become gang members, we need to have legislators stand up and put a stop to the nonsense, not to ratify the insanity.

    Norm Coleman knows better, and I would ask him to repudiate their findings, just as the Shafer Commission Report he once endorsed did 35 years ago.

    The issue is not what drugs we all may have done in the past. It is about which laws we enact here in our present.

    You say it so well when you ask ‘Which future Senator are our drug laws disqualifying today?’

    Thank you for your insight and commentary.

    Norm Kent
    http://www.normkent.com

  13. Norm–

    I liked your letter. I understand why candidates pretend to be against pot. But criminy, the pictures of Coleman from back in the day are not particularly ambiguous. And he’s done okay for himself.

    Thanks for holding a friend accountable.

  14. Pingback: celebstoner - Media jumps on Norm Coleman pot story

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