Tennessee Congressman Wows Pro-Marijuana Activists


Photo: Britney McIntosh, The Commercial Appeal
Congressman Steve Cohen: “This is an issue that’s important. It’s a freedom issue. It’s an intelligence issue.”

‚ÄčLet’s face it: Not many members of Congress will ever be caught sharing the stage with Cheech and Chong.

Then again, Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen isn’t very typical. The two-term Democratic Congressman from Memphis headlined the Marijuana Policy Project‘s 15th annual gala Wednesday night, where the famed stoner comedy duo of Cheech & Chong won a lifetime “Trailblazer” award for helping move marijuana into the mainstream.
“Most of my colleagues didn’t want to be here and aren’t here. Maybe that says something about my political judgment,” joked Cohen to a few hundred people at the $250-per-plate dinner, reports Ben Evans of The Associated Press.
Cohen, a longtime advocate for legalizing medical marijuana, also argues that the government is wasting billions of dollars and wrecking lives and families with its draconian punishments for minor drug offenses.

The Congressman said his own campaign polling has shown nearly 3-1 support for medical marijuana in his district.
“And that’s in Memphis, Tennessee,” he said. “This is an issue that’s important. It’s a freedom issue. It’s an intelligence issue… I’m proud to be here.”
Cohen found time to throw in some tongue-in-cheek marketing advice for the crowd.
“If you renamed marijuana something like Jack Daniel’s or Jim Beam, it’d be a lot more popular,” Cohen said. “You need to get a good name for it.”
Cohen’s suggestions must have found a receptive audience — he got nearly as loud an ovation as Cheech and Chong, according to reporter Evans.
Also addressing the crowd were former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, and actor Larry Hagman, famous for his portrayal of “J.R.” on the television show Dallas.