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Kinky Friedman plants 'Seeds of Change' in campaign for Texas ag commish

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It’s “music and a message,” says Kinky Friedman, legendary country music outlaw, acclaimed essayist and murder mystery novelist and current Democratic candidate for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture.

He’s referring to his Seeds of Change concert tour, which kicks off, following tomorrow’s editorial board meeting at the Dallas Morning News, Wednesday night (Feb. 12) at the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame in Tulsa.

“I’ll be doing 15 shows from now until the Mar. 4 primary, in lots of places where Rick Perry and Jimmy Buffett don’t often go,” says Friedman, whose Texas concert stops include Main Street Crossing in Tomball (Feb. 15), the Tipsy Gypsy in Longview and El Hueso De Fraile in Brownsville.

“I don’t have anything against those guys, but politicians and musicians don’t always go to the smaller towns,” continues Friedman, who’s also performing in the bigger cities of Houston, Dallas and Austin, as well as Baton Rouge, La.

“I’m doing about 43 different appearances [including] the 'Birdwatchers of Brownsville,' 'Hadassah of Laredo,' or whatever,” he says, semi-facetiously. Fully serious, he adds, “I’m meeting with farmers in Big Springs to discuss legalizing hemp. Nothing in the world is as serious as a comedian when he’s telling the truth: My platform is to lift the prohibition on pot and hemp--and that will affect that green thread of agriculture that weaves through all our lives.”

Hemp, informs Friedman, “requires half the water as cotton and produces two-and-a-half times the fiber. It requires no pesticides whatsoever, so it’s really a no-brainer--and if farmers want to grow it, I’ll see that they get grants out of the agricultural department’s $600 million budget: The governor or legislature may strike it down, but that will force it into the courts.”

He turns to the related issues of law enforcement, corrections and border security.

“There were 74,000 nonviolent pot possessors arrested in the year 2010,” he says, “and to prosecute them cost taxpayers $250 million. We could have sent all of them to Harvard cheaper than prosecuting them. And we incarcerate seven times as many African-Americans and Hispanics as whites: That’s not criminal justice but criminal injustice, and as agricultural commissioner I would change that.”

Friedman notes that he’s the only candidate anywhere on the ballot that’s “even mentioning pot or hemp—both of which need to be legalized in Texas.”

He adds: “It will clean up the border problems by effectively eliminating the Mexican drug cartels if we legalize it, and make the people of Texas the new cartel. So I’m asking Texas: Do we want to be seceders or do we want to be leaders?”

Friedman looks to stay on the road through the primary.

“I’d like everyone to remember that it’s an open primary, and anyone can vote—and if we win, we’re going all the way with Seeds of Change,” he says. “But it's [hemp and marijuana legalization] all coming: It will take 20, 25 years, or 10 months--and I predict 10 months if I win, because this election is a referendum on lifting the prohibition on hemp and pot. If we wait 20 or even 10 years, Texas will be the caboose on the train, and for any young people reading this, the caboose is the last car on the train!”

“The Lord created marijuana, and man created whisky,” Friedman maintains, “so you decide who you trust.”

The agricultural commissioner in Texas, Friedman considers, “could be a very important position.”

“I’m running, really, as an old-time Harry Truman Blue Dog Democrat,” evoking the more moderate sector of Democratic Party politicians.

“The old Democrats made some mistakes, but the old Democrats had something that we really don’t see much of today: They believed in people--the people, more than party power and politics, and that’s where I come into this thing.”

And on an apolitical note, Friedman notes that he’s hosting The Concert for Utopia fundraiser for his Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch on April 13 at Kerrville’s Cailloux Theater and featuring Asleep At The Wheel and Billy Joe Shaver.

[The Examiner wrote the liner notes to the 30th anniversary edition of Kinky Friedman’s classic 1973 album Sold American, and appears as a character in his 1994 novel Armadillos & Old Lace.]

Subscribe to my examiner.com pages and follow me on Twitter @JimBessman!

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