Thursday, December 27, 2012

First Pot Peace Candidate Had Reason in His Family

Teresa and George McGovern after he won
the Massachusetts Democratic Primary
I haven't had a chance in this busy election season to stop and reflect about the death this year of George McGovern. Among those who worked on Mr. McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign were Warren Beatty, Bill Clinton, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Gary Hart. And, I'm proud to say, me.

My first political act, at the age of 13, was to campaign for McGovern. When Nixon won by a landslide, I was so disheartened about the cynicism of the neighbors I'd canvassed and the country I lived in that I didn't get involved in politics again until I found out about hemp in 1991.

Now I see that the laws against marijuana had a damaging effect on a member of McGovern's family.

According to Wikipedia:

In July 1968, George McGovern's daughter Teresa was arrested in Rapid City, SD on marijuana possession charges. Based on a recently enacted strict state drugs law, Terry now faced a minimum five-year prison sentence if found guilty. At the time McGovern was in the running for the Democratic nomination for president.

McGovern denounced as "police brutality" the Chicago police tactics against demonstrators at the convention in August and ended up supporting Hubert Humphrey's nomination that year. Again, Wikipedia:

McGovern returned to his Senate reelection race. While South Dakota voters sympathized with McGovern over his daughter's arrest, he initially suffered a substantial drop in popularity over the events in Chicago. 

McGovern won the Democratic nomination four years later in 1972, when he famously became tagged with the label "amnesty, abortion and acid," supposedly reflecting his positions. McGovern favored the decriminalization of marijuana (but didn't say the same for LSD). Ever since, McGovernism has come to mean the embracing of progressive social policies that make liberals easy targets for conservatives. See SF Gate's Obituary.

Teresa was 19 when her pot bust happened. The effect it may have had on her life is unknown. For one thing, it might have sent her to more damaging substances, like alcohol.

McGovern writes, "Embarrassed by her Rapid City marijuana arrest, Terry decided not to return to Dakota Wesleyan that fall." Instead she enrolled at the University of Dakota, which was "then a place where heavy drinking and pot smoking were common, and Terry steadily increased her intake of alcohol with some limited use of marijuana and amphetamines." In February 1988, she began occasional use of marijuana, calling it a "pot addiction."

In December 1994, at the age of 45, Teresa fell into a snowbank while heavily intoxicated with alcohol, and died of hypothermia.

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