CLEVELAND (TDB) -- U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a Cleveland Democrat who now is running for the 2008 presidental nomination, received a $1,000 contribution from a political action committee that styles itself as the fundraising arm of the ''marijuana smokers' lobby.'' These are the people who inhale.
Kucinich received the donation in October while running for re-election to his congressional seat and reported it in documents filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.
The NORML PAC wants to ease the nation's drug laws criminalizing pot use and lists Kucinich among its 17 ''marijuana friendly" lawmakers (www.normal.org) , a group that includes three Republicans. Kucinich is the only Ohioan. The other Midwesterners are Rep. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat in Madison, Wi.; John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat, and Julia Carson, an Indianapolis Democrat. In its literature, the pro-pot PAC said it has made prior contributions to Kucinich.
''Many candidates for public office will not treat the marijuana smokers lobby as a serious political force until we become more active at raising and distributing PAC money to our friends,'' Allen F. Pierre, the executive director of NORML says in a fundraising letter available on the group's Web site.
Elsewhere on the site, NORML elaborates: "In a perfect world, candidates would not need to run for office, and those of us who advocate for legislative policy changes would not need to help candidates who are supportive of our positions raise money. But we live in the real world, and we must recognize that our ability to help marijuana-friendly candidates raise the necessary money to successfully run for office, or for reelection, is terribly important."
Kucinich has spoken out against the War on Drugs and calls it a failure. ''In fact," he said in a House floor statement, "because our War on Drugs drives up the price, it encourages violence. Prohibition simply doesn't work. It only creates thousands and thousands of Al Capones. Prison should be for people who hurt other people, not themselves. We don't jail people for merely drinking. We jail people when they drink and drive and hurt another human."