Five Minutes Five Issues: Barr on Marijuana, Venezuela, Syria, More Marijuana Legalization, Trump Speech

A new episode of Five Minutes Five Issues posted on Saturday. You can listen to it, and read a transcript, below. You can also find previous episodes of the show at Stitcher, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

Listen to the new episode here:

Read a transcript of the new episode, including links to further information regarding the topics discussed, here:

The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity welcomes you to Five Minutes Five Issues.

Starting in five four three two one.

Hello, I am Adam Dick, a Ron Paul Institute senior fellow.

Let’s start.

Issue one.

In last week’s episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about a feared United States government marijuana crackdown under former Attorney General Jeff Sessions not occurring. It looks like it would not occur with William Barr as attorney general either. In a Tuesday Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing, Barr pledged the Justice Department would exercise restraint regarding people complying with liberalized state marijuana laws whose actions may violate US marijuana laws. Said Barr, “to the extent people are complying with the state laws, you know, in distribution and production and so forth, we’re not going to go after that.”

Issue two.

Menacing statements by high-level US government officials regarding the Venezuela government have been a frequent topic at Five Minutes Five Issues.

In 2017, I talked about President Donald Trump saying he would not “rule out a military option” for dealing with Venezuela; Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin stating the US “will not ignore the [Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro] regime’s ongoing efforts to undermine democracy, freedom and the rule of law;” and Vice President Mike Pence and then-Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director Mike Pompeo portraying the Venezuela government as a danger to Americans.

In 2018, I talked about then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson commenting approvingly about a potential military coup in Venezuela; Pence threatening the US would oust Maduro from power, Nikki Haley — then the US ambassador to the United Nations — declaring the US would continue fighting until Maduro “is gone;” National Security Advisor John Bolton calling Venezuela, along with Cuba and Nicaragua, a “Troika of Tyranny” against which the US “is taking direct action;” and Pompeo — as secretary of state — then challenging all three countries in a speech.

The menacing statements continue in 2019. Last week, upon Maduro being sworn in for a second term as Venezuela president, Pompeo issued a State Department press statement promising to continue using “the full weight of U.S. economic and diplomatic power” against the Venezuela government and pretty much urging Venezuelans in general and Venezuela military members in particular to overthrow the country’s government.

Issue three.

Many politicians and commentators reacted to the killing of several US soldiers in Syria this week by declaring President Trump should reverse his decision to remove US troops from Syria. In contrast, it was refreshing to hear US House of Representatives Member Ro Khanna (D-CA) say in a Friday Democracy Now interview that the attack “should double our resolve to remove our troops,” who Khanna explains, “are actually a sitting target for ISIS.”

Issue four.

In the December 22 episode of Five Minutes Five Issues, I talked about Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York likely legalizing recreational marijuana this year via state legislature-passed and governor-signed legislation. And in the January 4 episode, I talked about New Hampshire potentially legalizing this year via the state legislature overriding a governor veto.

If the governors of Illinois and Rhode Island get their way, we will see those states also adopt marijuana legalization in 2019. J.B. Pritzker, sworn in as governor of Illinois this week, ran for office promoting legalization. Gina Raimondo, beginning her second term as governor of Rhode Island, says she now favors legalization because neighboring states — Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York — either legalized already or appear ready to legalize soon.

Issue five.

On Wednesday, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) sent a letter to President Trump. Pelosi wrote that, due to security concerns caused by the partial government shutdown, Trump’s State of the Union message scheduled for the end of January at the House of Representatives should be moved to a later date, unless the shutdown ends in the next few days. As Pelosi correctly notes, Trump could instead, as did many prior presidents, just give his message to Congress in writing.

The Onion provided great commentary on the development through mock “man on the street” reactions, including this comment: “You mean we could’ve stopped these anytime?”


That’s a wrap.

Transcripts of Five Minutes Five Issues episodes, including links to related information, are at the Ron Paul Institute blog.

Five four three two one.

Reprinted with permission from the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.

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