Marijuana: Dividing Issue Among Republicans

October 23, 2012


As a testament to how dividing the issue of marijuana 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.