Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform

Editor: Douglas A. Berman
Moritz College of Law

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

"The Newest Allies for Pot Legalization: Conservatives"

The title of this post is the headline of this notable new piece from The Crime Report.  Here are excerpts:

Current president Donald Trump doesn’t seem to believe in anything more intoxicating than cola — his elder brother died of alcoholism-related causes — but he’s been of at least two minds about marijuana legalization. He appointed ferocious marijuana opponent Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, and Trump’s first Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, also opposed legalization in the strongest possible terms.

During the presidential campaign, however, Trump more-or-less stated he would let the states decide whether and how to legalize marijuana.  His choice of Sessions seemed to be a reversal, but lately, it seems as if he’s been holding Sessions back.  Last month he agreed, under pressure from Colorado’s Republican US Sen. Cory Gardner to not interfere with Colorado’s marijuana industry. (Gardner had vowed to block every Justice Department nominee until he received such a reassurance.).

Another politician who recently has reversed himself and now supports legalization — at least for medical use and study — is former House Speaker John Boehner. He has joined the board of Acreage Holdings, a cannabis company “with cultivation, processing and dispensing operations across 11 states.”  In 2011, Boehner wrote, “I am unalterably opposed to the legalization of marijuana or any other FDA Schedule I drug” because he was “concerned that legalization will result in increased abuse of all varieties of drugs, including alcohol.”

Now, Boehner says, “my thinking on cannabis has evolved. I’m convinced de-scheduling the drug is needed so we can do research, help our veterans, and reverse the opioid epidemic ravaging our communities”.  Cynics might say the money Boehner will no doubt receive was a motivating factor, but opponents of legalization face similar suspicions....

Other conservatives who have voiced some support for the relaxation of marijuana laws include Meghan McCain (daughter of Arizona Sen. John McCain), right-wing pundit Glenn Beck, former Alaskan mayor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Fox News host Sean Hannity and televangelist Pat Robertson....

Many Americans, including war veterans, believe marijuana helps them cope with their post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain. Marijuana can be harmful, but so can any legal product, most notably tobacco, alcohol and prescription opiate drugs.  Conservatives often espouse Henry David Thoreau’s belief “That government is best which governs least.”  Some are now concluding that should apply to marijuana, too.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/marijuana_law/2018/05/the-newest-allies-for-pot-legalization-conservatives.html

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