Smith: Rohrabacher is just being true to beliefs

In my life, I have watched a man walk on the moon, seen the fall of the Berlin Wall, and observed America twice elect a black man to the presidency.

In Hawaii in 1999, I saw a chicken cross the road, and several years ago on Highway 152 in Northern California, I saw a dead skunk in the middle of the road while the Loudon Wainwright III song of the same name played on the car radio. The skunk was indeed "stinking to high heaven."

I have witnessed the birth of two human beings, been in an operating room to witness open-heart surgery, and even seen a product called Muscle Milk that clearly states on the carton, "Contains no milk."

I haven't seen it all, but I've seen a lot, so you will have to excuse me if after witnessing these phenomena, I am not shocked that U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is making substantive moves toward the eventual legalization of marijuana.

Rohrabacher is not new to the marijuana legalization fight. He supports the "marijuana-like-wine" concept, which would allow the rules governing the sale, distribution and consumption of wine to apply to marijuana. This time around, according to the Feb. 20 Daily Pilot, Rohrabacher "plans to introduce a bill that would require the federal government to mirror individual states' pot laws.

"Rohrabacher also co-sponsored a bill introduced last week that would federally reclassify marijuana for medical use. Right now, pot is a Schedule I drug, meaning that the [Drug Enforcement Agency] categorizes it among the most dangerous, highly addictive of controlled substances, which are not allowed for medical use," the news story said.

I'm not even surprised that the federal government still considers pot as dangerous as an Uzi. Legalizing pot would remove a lot of money from the phony war on drugs, a war in which many players have profited for years despite no significant advancement in the reduction of drugs in the U.S. There are a lot of people, important people, riding the drug war gravy train and they're not yet ready to get off.

What surprises me is that there are probably a few folks who see Rohrabacher as a staunch conservative who should really be advocating a marijuana crackdown, not an ease on its regulation. But the support is consistent with Rohrabacher's record in similar areas. Rohrabacher is today more interested in getting the federal government off our backs and out of our lives than the hippies were in the 1960s and '70s.

This support for less government in our lives is evidenced by his opposition to the Patriot Act II two years ago. At that time, Rohrabacher pointed out that the original Patriot Act contained "sunset provisions" against the sections of the act that "dramatically expanded federal investigative and enforcement powers, especially those that could infringe on the freedom of American citizens."

The current support for deregulating pot comes from a similar position. Several states, including California, have decided to take marijuana out of their cross hairs, only to be overruled by Washington, D.C., which raids dispensaries and issues warnings against too much pot liberality.

This conflict between Rohrabacher's reputation and the ignorance of those who do not know of his consistency in the anti-government intrusion area is best expressed by reader Lynn Scheid, who wrote commented on the Pilot story that she "can't believe I finally agree with Rohrabacher about something!"

Scheid's reaction is not quite as amazing as seeing a chicken actually crossing the road, but it's close.

STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to

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