Sunday, November 04, 2007

Top Thompson crony a former drug dealer

By Libby

I'm more amused than outraged by this latest twist on the campaign trail but what is it with the GOP anyway? The more they pimp 'family values' the more likely they are to associate with criminals. Today we find Thompson's top gun, Philip Martin, was convicted for fairly high level drug dealing among other crimes.

Martin entered a plea of guilty to the sale of 11 pounds of marijuana in 1979; the court withheld judgment pending completion of his probation. He was charged in 1983 with violating his probation and with multiple counts of felony bookmaking, cocaine trafficking and conspiracy. He pleaded no contest to the cocaine-trafficking and conspiracy charges, which stemmed from a plan to sell $30,000 worth of the drug, and was continued on probation.

The irony that Thompson, a former prosecutor, is flying around on a convicted felon's airplane is just too delicious, but I don't have a problem with it. Neither do I mind that Martin skated on some very serious charges, although it does irritate me greatly that a poor black kid in Texas is sitting in jail for life for possession of a single joint because it violated his probation while this rich white guy appears to have never seen the inside of a jail cell.

The obvious lesson in this is that we really need to reform our drug laws. Many more 'respectable' people privately consume marijuana than you think and it hasn't interfered with their ability to be productive citizens. If we released every non-violent cannabis offender from jail tomorrow, we would solve the overcrowding crisis and have plenty room to inprison the violent criminals that truly do endanger society.

As far as Thompson goes, I don't think this will hurt him in the long run but it would be a really opportune time to pin him down on his stance on drug policy reform. Unfortunately, I expect our useless media will focus on Martin's past rather than address the much more pressing larger issue.

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