Legalize? Some Republicans Say Yes; Romney Not on Board

It used to be that any call to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes was viewed as an extreme stance, held mostly by so-called hippies and drug dealers. 52691_marijuana_plant.jpg

But now, our Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers understand that the position is taking hold with a few prominent Republicans.

Right now in Washington state and in Colorado, which already allow medicinal marijuana, there are ballot measures on the table to legalize the drug for recreational purposes as well. And now Republicans from both states are rallying behind those measures.

Reuters reports that Washington State Senate Candidate Michael Baumgartner says he would back the sale of marijuana to people over the age of 21 in stores that are regulated by the state. He advocates that this would reduce the chances of children having access or of it being used in public places.

Additionally, former Republican House Representative Tom Tancredo, who served five terms in that position, said he endorses the legalization campaign currently underway in Colorado. He believes the government should not stop adults who choose to use marijuana.

Oregon, which also has an upcoming vote on the issue, has yet to find any Republican supporters, but advocates have been seeking one.

The issue is particularly contentious because even the use of marijuana for medical purposes has not been approved by the federal government, which deems all uses and sales illegal. While President Barack Obama had previously promised not to interfere with medical marijuana storefronts that were acting within the confines of state laws, those promises have fallen flat as officials with the U.S. Justice Department have actively sought to shutter these operations across the country – particularly in the last year in California.

As a testament to how dividing the issue is, even the top two Republicans right now – Presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his Vice Presidential pick, Paul Ryan, have differing takes on the issue.

Ryan was recently interviewed by a local Colorado television station on the issue of medical marijuana and stated that he personally feels such matters should be left to the states to decide. He said the issue was not high on the list of priorities for the campaign. He says he doesn’t personally support a total decriminalization of the drug, but still feels it’s a matter best left to state officials.

Romney, meanwhile, has been clear that he is staunchly opposed both to medical and recreational legalization. In getting testy with a reporter in New Hampshire recently, Romney said, “I have the same position this week I had last week when you asked the question,” which is that the legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes leads to legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes. That in turn, he says, results in people being tempted to try the drug, which he views as a gateway for harder drugs, which he says will result in higher addiction rates for young Americans.

For the most part, though, presidential candidates have tried to steer clear of the issue, knowing that it is a highly contentious one that may lose them supporters either way.

However, it’s important to continue to press candidates and officials already in office regarding this issue, as it is one that affects millions of Americans. Our jails and prisons are overrun with people arrested for non-violent, marijuana-related offenses. Even those who have acted legally in the eyes of state law have been punished under federal criminal laws, and this disparity is has bubbled over into a broader public discourse about what kind of society we want to be.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Republicans In Washington State, Colorado Endorse Legalization Of Marijuana, Oct. 5, 2012, By Jonathan Kaminsky
More Blog Entries:
Feds Set Sights on Los Angeles Medical Marijuana Dispensaries, Oct. 4, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog