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New Hampshire Senator Threatens Constituent For Supporting Cannabis Decriminalization

andysanborn

Senator Andy Sanborn, elected in 2012.

We received this conversation from a reader, who was “shocked” at how a senator in New Hampshire responded when he contacted him to support cannabis decriminalization.

Below is the conservation.

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E-mail sent to Senator Andy Sanborn by constituent Michael Maly:

Dear Senator Sanborn,

As I am sure you are aware, the issue of marijuana prohibition has been a widely debated issue in American politics. The tide seems to be shifting and states around the nation are passing decriminalization bills and some are even approving full recreational legalization. Uncharacteristically, New Hampshire seems to be behind the pack when it comes to this issue specifically. In New Hampshire, those arrested with even small quantities of marijuana face harsh criminal penalties that can ruin their lives by disqualifying them from jobs and other things including federal student aid. As of right now, criminals convicted of serious crimes like rape and murder and technically eligible for federal student aid without restrictions but those found guilty of possession of small amounts of marijuana and disqualified for federal student aid for one year after their first offence. The penalties simply don’t fit the crime. New Hampshire’s state motto is Live Free or Die, known for turning down bills for seat belt regulations and some of the most lenient gun laws in the nation, New Hampshire is known for putting the freedom of it’s citizens first even if it means jeopardizing their safety.

In the case of this issue, public safety does not have to be jeopardized. Decriminalization would give offenders a ticket similar to those given for minor traffic violations. This would eliminate the life altering repercussions that can come with a criminal offence. Legalization would give users the freedom to use the substance but with restrictions that could prevent children from obtaining it and restrictions on the use of substance while operating a motor vehicle. Right now, the criminalization of the substance is only benefiting those distributing it on the black market. Even with some of the most strict marijuana laws in the nation, a recent survey puts New Hampshire at number four in the nation for marijuana use per capita. It is clear the war against marijuana use has failed. It is time to stop ruining people’s lives and pumping money into the black market and start regulating a substance that is far less addictive and harmful than alcohol and tobacco. Your job is to represent the people of NH not your personal beliefs, it’s time to listen to the people.

Thank you,
Michael Maly

 

This was the response sent to Michael, from Senator Sanborn:

 

Thanks for your email and thoughts, although I may ask that you consider that last sentence. I’m guessing you don’t know much about me, my values and what I have been working on in the legislature. Frankly, your suggestion that I do not listen shows ignorance and I find it insulting. There sure is one way to insure a legislator votes against your wishes and that is to insult them………….. I’m thinking if I call the [organization you received a scholarship from] and ask their opinion on legalization, they may have a different opinion (not to mention may be asking you for their scholarship money back…). 

I may suggest you first take the time to actually read the legislation, understand it and it’s total ramifications before you comment on it as the bulk of your argument is not considered in it and it makes you look like nothing more than a college freshman who just wants to get high at any cost. Thanks, Senator Andy Sanborn.

 

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“I was obviously shocked at the response”, Michael tells us. “He even went as far as to threaten to call an organization who I had received a scholarship from last year.”

When we asked Michael how the senator knew about his scholarship, he tells us that; “He must have looked me up. It was recently and it was in the newspapers, so I assume that’s how he figured it out.”

Those in New Hampshire who believe that Senator Sanborn should take the issue of cannabis law reform more seriously, and should show more respect to his constituents, can contact him through e-mail at andy.sanborn@leg.state.nh.us, or by phone at 603-271-2609.

- TheJointBlog

[Editor's Note: the constituent's name was changed, and his college withheld, in order to protect his identity.]

19 comments

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  1. Greenlover

    Hey,

    It’s the tone that is off. I want it legal too in NH. I really would like to see that happen. The condescending tone in the last sentence is what set the guy off, and I agree it is unprofessional of a Senator to respond to glibly to a constituent like that but that is not completely unexpected. Our Congresscritters and Senators are people too. Let’s consider their feelings in all this, unless they prove themselves immune to reason and in the pocket of unfavorable lobbies.

    The fact that the Senator took it so personally in my opinion reflects that he may be on the fence concerning the issue. Let’s try to win with honey before we break out the vinegar. We’re so close after all.

    Senator: If you read this, I wouldn’t take it too personally. Obviously some young people are a little lacking in manners. Marijuana is unlikely the cause of that. On the other hand sending young people to prison isn’t likely to promote good manners at all, and you probably ought to weigh that in consideration also.

    Thanks everyone!

    1. moldy

      ”Our Congresscritters and Senators are people too.”

      My guess is that some “assistant” in the senator’s office wrote back and thought he’d punish the little people a bit more. Most Reps. don’t answer letters personally unless it has to do with funding their campaign.

      1. NHer

        In New Hampshire, one staffer generally serves two senators, and no staffer is remotely likely to send an email like this. I’m certain this came from Sanborn himself. Ironically, he’s almost definitely pro-legalization, notwithstanding which he is indeed a ginormous a-hole with a correspodingly vast ego. I’m not at all surprised to see him being a gratuitous over-the-top jerk. (Though he was right about the emailer’s last sentence being stupid.)

    2. 420er

      That’s not the point. The point is, this stinks of corruption. This man actually has the power to do what he threatened, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually did make that call. Basically he pulled a Chris Christie.

    3. Sean

      A politician should have thicker skin than that. I don’t see anything that was offensive what the letter writer wrote to the Senator. If the Senator is so butt hurt by a constituent, he shouldn’t be in politics in the first place. The letter writer did nothing wrong and you know it.

  2. Shadar

    This Senator Andy Sanborn character is a real piece of work. He never replied to any of the issues in the original email, but instead resorted to using personal intimidation to threaten a constituent for “insulting” him. All the citizen was doing was asking the senator to listen to the people.

    This senator is a poster child for why congress (state and federal) are regarded so poorly. They no longer want to listen to their constituents. The idea that a Senator would research a citizen’s background and then threaten him for the “crime” of writing him to ask him to listen to the people is deplorable. It violates everything that we hold dear in our system of government, along with the Constitutionally guaranteed right to petition our elected officials without fear of reprisal.

    Shadar

  3. Anonymous

    Do after work after bizness

  4. Ras Ible

    Senator Sandborn needs to be investigated by activists to see what ties he has to anti-mmj! By the yellowing of his teeth, he looks addicted to coffee and/or nicotine. shm

  5. PabloKoh

    Just using threats of force like politicians do everyday. Burn the system to the ground.

  6. Closet Smoker

    Remember, politicians are like diapers, they need to be changed often and for the same reason.

  7. Closet Smoker

    Here is the message I wrote to the senator:

    Senator Sanborn,

    I am not a resident of your fine state. I am, however, a concerned citizen of the United States of America. I have read how either you or a hired worker from your office had responded to a concerned citizen who wrote a well thought out letter to you asking for you to support the ending of cannabis prohibition. The response from your office is not one becoming of a elected representative. There is a major shift in the perceptions of cannabis and any harms it may have. Numerous recent polls have shown a major uptick in cannabis policy acceptance, a clear majority now believe it needs to be legalized. I know you are not ready to accept this leap yet, but at least do your due diligence and research both the pros and cons. Look at the medical research being done in Israel. Discover how, when brought to the American Congress in 1937 by Harry S. Anslinger in his successful attempt to prohibit cannabis, the number one question asked by congressmen was “What is this stuff?”

    IF you do your research, you will find how, over 75+ years of history, cannabis prohibition was brought upon us by out of work government bureaucrats looking for a new cause, and greedy corporate interests that wanted nothing more than to quash competition to keep their inferior product profitable. It is being lobbied for by those who profit greatly now by its continued prohibition. For profit prisons, court mandated rehab and testing, the list goes on how profits are being made on human misery. Our own federal, state and local law enforcement have committed the “justified” killing of your own people over the simple possession of a plant. We have spent TRILLIONS of dollars trying to reach a quixotic unobtainable goal of being drug free.

    Fact

    Deaths DIRECTLY attributed to consumption of:

    Tobacco: 440,000+ per annum

    Alcohol: 130,000+ per annum

    Aspirin: 1000+ per annum

    Peanuts: approx. 100 per annum

    Deaths directly attributed to cannabis consumption in ALL of human history? Zero, none, nada, you will not find a single case.

    Please do your due diligence

    My Name

    of

    Washington State

  8. Concerned Citizen

    Sanborn sounds like a bitch. Get rid of him next cycle.

  9. Don

    Senator Sanborn wrote: I’m thinking if I call the [organization you received a scholarship from] and ask their opinion on legalization, they may have a different opinion (not to mention may be asking you for their scholarship money back…).

    To be perfectly objective, it is unclear from that statement whether the senator is considering making the call or only hypothesizing it for the sake of argument. The writer should ask for clarification, and the senator should work on his writing skills.

  10. Green Street News

    Fellow journalist here. My name is John Connelly and I work for Time Magazine. Also a marijuana blogger. I’m very interested in following up on this story. Can the email be confirmed? Do you have screenshots of the email exchange that verifies Senator Sanborn sent this email?

    Very interested in giving this story wider national coverage. Please reply at thegreenstreetnews@gmail.com

    Thanks.

    -John Connelly

  11. marko

    While I agree w/ decriminalizing pot makes sense. Legalization of pot does not….I don’t support legalization in NH. I have heard EVERY argument for legalalization from the pro-pot lobby…NONE of the arguments alone or combined fare compelling.

  12. Andy

    Of course he doesn’t want to have marijuana legalized. It would take away from the booze he serves all the drunks. Check him out. He’s pushing alcohol.

  13. medcabbavu1

    This is why we the good people who no longer want to make our family members and neighbors criminals for using and supporting cannabis therapy must ensure that we elect only compassionate and informed citizens to pubic office.
    This lightweight hack who appears to be a bully in a cheap suit should be recalled and censured for his treatment of a constituent. There are governing bodies with the legislature and the appropriate oversight group should be made aware of his abuse of office.
    Certainly there are better qualified NH citizens who would governed the welfare of that state with compassion and reason as apposed to the angry white guy stereo-type….

  14. James Bong

    “…Your job is to represent the people of NH not your personal beliefs, it’s time to listen to the people.”

    I have to agree with the Senator, in part. It was foolish of this student to write a Senator and upbraid the Senator for voting for his personal beliefs. I think 999,999 Senators out of a million would vote their personal beliefs, and I wouldn’t vote for the lone exception. When you vote for an elected official, you vote for his beliefs. He is a representative, and not your puppet.

    This was insulting. I don’t know if this student knew Sen. Sanborn’s opinion of the bill in question, or about the wisdom of legalizing cannabis, but insinuating that this official does not listen to the people is just nonesense. He did write the student back, so he was obviously listening, and reading. The Senator got elected with the plurality of the votes, so that means that somebody believes he listens. As to “listening to the people”, that is not always the wisest decision. First, “the people” wanted to crucify Jesus, and got their wish. Was that wise? Secondly, what IS the wish of the people of New Hampshire at the moment regarding legalization of cannabis? If this kid could prove that the majority of New Hampshiremen/women wished for cannabis to be legal, all Senators would listen to such proof. But where is it? Not in this letter. One does not write elected officials claiming to represent “the opinion of the people.” Who knows how many constituent contacts Sen. Sanborn had which asked that he vote in the opposite manner?

    Where I think the Senator went wrong was to threaten to retaliate against the student because of the way in which the student expressed his wishes. Nobody is perfect, and both parties to this dispute prove that in spades, but to retaliate against constituents who send you stupid vote requests sinks him down to the level of the Michael Maly, or below. Sen. Sanborn’s job IS to listen, and to understand that constituents are not perfect, and that students can be inexperienced and thoughtless. Threatened retaliation for someone’s being an imperfect good citizen is unacceptable from any elected official, anywhere. This kid could have thrown a bomb; it happens a lot these days. But he did the democratic thing and wrote a letter to his elected official expressing his wishes. Some recognition should be granted him for that. Statesmanship is the art of rising above the imperfections of your nation, system, or constituents. It is very much demanded in a democratic system.

  15. 1voice

    I really think the point here is that a young American reached out to his senator for support and got threats for a response, was attacked and talked down to and treated like a second class citizen. All this with out even really responding to the contents of the letter it self. Why if this guy a Senator?

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