Today on WGMD the guest host Steve Bryant, who is sitting in for Jared Morris, was discussing Delaware’s SB 17 legislation. This is the bill that would legalize medical use of marijuana.
Mr. Bryant is currently undergoing chemotherapy for throat cancer. But since Mr. Bryant lives in Nashville, the passage of this law in Delaware would not benefit him directly. It is understandable that Mr. Bryant would be in favor of the legalization of marijuana, for medical use.
I called in to give my views of why I feel that passage of SB 17 would set a dangerous precedent. I am on record as to why I feel this way.
The really interesting part of the discussion on WGMD came about fifteen minutes after my call. That is when Delaware, Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf called in, to defend SB 17. He made all of the usual points that those who support legalizing medical marijuana make. He spoke about the need to pass legislation so as to ease the pain of those suffering from the effects of cancer treatment and other illnesses.
Nothing groundbreaking in anything Rep. Schwartzkopf said. That is until he related a personal story about someone he is close to, who is suffering from the effects of cancer treatment. In relating this story, Mr. Schwartzkopf made mention of the fact that the husband of this person was forced to go out and buy marijuana illegally on the street.
This is quite a revelation. First it would seem as if Rep.Schwartzkopf believes that we need to pass SB 17, so that some people will no longer be “forced” to go out and break existing laws.
This brings me to my point. That a sitting legislator has admitted to knowing of illegal activity, and seems to condone it, and actually seems to feel that it is justified.
There is an ethical question here. Rep. Schwartzkopf is not a judge, whose job it is to interpret laws or to overturn laws.
Rep. Schwartzkopf takes an oath as a member of the General Assembly to,
” uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God.”
This would seem to mean, to also uphold the laws of both the state and the country.
He has every right and duty to work to change laws that his constituents have made clear that they wish to have changed. But as long as a law is on the books, it is his sworn duty to respect and to protect the rule of law.
The oath of office also states , “I further swear (or affirm) always to place the public interests above any special or personal interests“.
It would seem that Rep. Schwartzkopf has allowed his personal feeling for the person suffering from the treatment of their cancer, to cloud his judgement about right and wrong. He has admitted on live radio that he has turned a blind eye towards an illegal act.
By doing this, by ignoring, condoning and allowing this illegal act to happen, it would seem that Rep. Schwartzkopf may have crossed an ethical boundary.
This is the danger when our legislators allow their personal feelings, emotions and desires to cloud their decisions. We can little afford for our laws to be based on individual experiences of each legislator. Our government must be representative of our society as a whole. Our laws must reflect the mores of our nation. To legislate based on the heart-rending emotions of watching someone you love suffer is a dangerous thing. Our elected officials must be able to keep separate their personal feeling from their public responsibilities.
This is not the first time that Rep. Schwartzkopf has allowed his personal experiences to effect his public decisions in the General Assembly.
Several years ago Mr. Schwartzkopf donated a kidney to a close family friend. This is the act of a selfless person. It shows great character on Mr. Schwartzkopf’s part. However, shortly thereafter Rep. Schwartzkopf proposed a bill that would have created an opt-out program at the DMV for organ donors. Instead of the current opt-in program. Basically this program would have resulted in many people becoming donors, possibly by mistake. The bill failed. I believe that Rep. Schwartzkopf again was moved by his personal emotions.
Rep. Schwartzkopf and every other elected official, are elected to represent the people’s views on issues, they are not there to impose their own.
I will leave it up to those, whose responsibility it is, to decide whether Rep. Schwartzkopf has crossed any ethical boundaries or not. I will only say that it is troubling when we learn that an elected official has knowingly allowed illegal acts to take place for any reason.
And just in case anyone needs to read the oath of office, here is a link.