On Monday The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson wrote that the late, beloved, Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, is just the most recent victim of America's failed drug war. "Our drug policy of prohibition and interdiction makes it difficult and dangerous for people like Hoffman to get high, but not impossible—and it makes these tragic overdose deaths more common than they have to be," he wrote.
On Tuesday Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee took that case to the feds. In a hearing on the Obama administration's approach to marijuana policy, Cohen argued the federal government is clearly implicated in Hoffman's death, calling the allocation of federal resources to marijuana arrests "a crime committed by our government."
Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I under federal law, a substance defined as having "a high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment." That puts it in the same class of drugs as heroin, the drug thought to be responsible for Hoffman's death. (Cocaine, opium, and methamphetamine are classified as Schedule II, meaning they have "some accepted medical use.")
Cohen called it "ludicrous, absurd and crazy" to have marijuana classified as the same level drug as heroin. Nobody dies from marijuana, he reasoned correctly, and every moment we spend trying to enforce marijuana laws is a minute we don't spend policing more deadly drugs like heroin.
It certainly wasn't the worst finger-pointing we've seen around the Hollywood icon's death. Just ask Jared Padalecki, who recently told his Twitter fan base that Hoffman's death could be chalked up to stupidity (for anyone confused about why that particular reaction is offensive, Dear Prudence has something you should read ).
Others are speculating that the actor was killed by particularly deadly strains of heroin, known as "Ace of Spades" or "Ace of Hearts." Points to those outlets for the literal interpretation!
The award for Worst Response on the Internet probably goes to Ben Shapiro, who recently argued that Hoffman was essentially killed by "broken leftist culture," which apparently embraces illegal drug use. Maybe he's conflating heroin with marijuana here? They are, after all, classified the same way by the federal government.
Excerpts from Cohen's drug policy real talk are below: