SEMO Times Staff Report
In response to a question from the audience at a regular meeting of the Poplar Bluff for Liberty group, Parker stated if elected he would support efforts to decriminalize marijuana, leaving it to the states to decide the matter.
Executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Allen St. Pierre was excited to learn of Parker’s support for the decriminalization of marijuana movement.
“We enthusiastically welcome Mr. Parker’s support of our cause,” St. Pierre said. “It is courageous stances like this that show more and more people even in very conservative areas such as Southeast Missouri are coming over to our message.”
St. Pierre continued: “Over the past 40 years. support for decriminalization has increased to over 50 percent nationally, and medicinal marijuana support is over 70 percent. Today politicians who support decriminalization are in the main stream, and those who do not are opposed to what most Americans believe”.
While groups such as NORMAL support Parker’s stance, his announcement has been met with a skeptical response locally. Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney Russ Oliver stated: “Marijuana is a gateway to other drugs such as methamphetamine, and Stoddard County as well as every other county in Southeast Missouri needs federal cooperation and help to combat this problem.”
The SEMO Times was informed that Jo Ann Emerson, current U.S. representative from Missouri’s 8th Congressional District, was in a meeting with law enforcement professionals in Phelps County, and was unavailable for immediate comment. Parker updated his official position on his Facebook page this afternoon.
UPDATE 1: Emerson responds to SEMO Times report:
*** Emerson opponent supports decriminalization of drugs ***
Cogresswoman Jo Ann Emerson’s opponent Tuesday made public statements in support of eliminating federal drug laws. Emerson’s staff is responding that this position is incredibly reckless.
“Drugs can destroy a person, a family and a whole community. Saying that decriminalizing drugs will make them go away – especially when those drugs are highly addictive substances like methamphetamine and cocaine – is an irresponsible statement that puts innocent Missourians in danger. Drug use affects bystanders like children and neighbors, people on our roads and in their own homes. It is not OK to sell drugs, move them between states and smuggle them into our country,” said Josh Haynes, Emerson staffer.
Haynes said Emerson held a meeting with Phelps County law enforcement officials this morning where she heard about “bath salts” and other synthetic drugs which are overwhelming police departments all over the country.
“We need to give more tools to law enforcement to stop drugs from coming into our communities, not less. Jo Ann has supported federal legislation to criminalize these bath salts, funding to stop meth trafficking through Southern Missouri, and four drug task forces in our congressional district. It’s about protecting our homes and our children. She supports border enforcement that stops drugs at the very moment they enter our country. Doing away with those laws would be disastrous. She takes this subject very seriously,” Haynes said.
UPDATE 2: Parker attempts to clarify his position via Facebook:
“Personally, I do not support the legalization of drugs. I know many people whose lives have been horribly impacted by drug use. I do think we should reserve this to the individual states to determine this issue. It is heartbreaking to me how pervasive drug use in America is, the shattered lives, the damaged children. My faith in Christ changed my life. To all of those that are in the desperation of dependence, please look up. There is a God that cares for you,” Congressional candidate Bob Parker wrote.