Congress is taking marijuana issues more seriously than ever these days, with a powerful Senate committee approving medical cannabis for military veterans and House panels debating other amendments on rescheduling and banking just in the last week alone.
But our representatives also found some time to joke around about marijuana last week, too.
First, on Tuesday, Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-FL) yukked it up during a speech supporting a resolution to name a U.S. post office after the late musician Merle Haggard.
Playing off the lyrics of Haggard hits “Okie From Muskogee” and “The Bottle Let Me Down,” DeSantis said:
“Now this will be a time for celebration, but remember: ‘We don’t smoke marijuana in Muskogee; we don’t take no trips on LSD.’ So in honor of the Okie from Muskogee, illicit substances will be prohibited at the Haggard Post Office. It will be okay to just stay there and drink, but keep in mind that tonight could be the night the bottle let’s you down.”
Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who authored the resolution, sat nearby, cracking up.
The House then passed the measure on a voice vote.
On Wednesday, it was Democrats’ turn to have a little fun with marijuana jokes, at the expense of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), during a Judiciary Committee hearing on a bill to grant the attorney general new powers to unilaterally schedule drugs for extended periods of time, noted that at one point Sessions said that he thought the Ku Klux Klan “were OK until I found out they smoked pot.”
Sessions later described the remarks as a joke, but Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN), an ardent legalization supporter, took the opportunity at the House hearing to deploy a one-liner of his own about it.
“At least that’s something else marijuana has done good, is convince General Sessions that the KKK was bad,” he jested.
Congressman John Conyers (D-MI) could then be heard in the background, saying, “I don’t know if it did.”
Congressional staff seemed somehow simultaneously amused and mortified by the antics:
While there’s nothing funny about the fact that hundreds of thousands of people are still arrested on marijuana charges in the U.S. every year, it’s nice to see that members of Congress can simultaneously work toward reforming outdated cannabis policies while also poking fun at the absurdity that often seems to permeate the debate around the issue.