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  1. Beenthere2Hippie
    With Rand Paul ending his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, the GOP race has lost its strongest supporter of drug policy reform. But the remaining Republican candidates are for the most part not as retrograde in this area as you might expect, especially on the question of how the federal government should respond to state legalization of marijuana.

    For years Paul has been saying that drug policy should be devolved to the states as much as possible. In a Daily Show interview last month, the Kentucky senator made explicit one implication of that approach, joining Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in calling for an end to the federal ban on marijuana. Paul also has been an eloquent and passionate advocate of sentencing reform, sponsoring legislation that would effectively abolish mandatory minimums.

    Ted Cruz, who won the Iowa caucus on Monday and seems poised to finish second in the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday, is at best a pale imitation of Rand Paul. The Texas senator, who last spring bragged that he was an original cosponsor of a bill that would cut the mandatory minimums for drug offenses in half, seemed to turn against sentencing reform last fall, even while claiming he still wants to do something about “disproportionate sentences for nonviolent drug offenders.”

    Cruz also has reversed himself on marijuana legalization, but in that case he moved in a reformist direction. In 2014 he criticized the Obama administration for failing to aggressively enforce the federal ban on marijuana in the 23 states that have legalized the drug for medical or recreational use. A year later, he agreed with Paul that the feds should not interfere.

    “I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy,’” Cruz said at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in February 2015. “If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”

    Donald Trump, who finished second in Iowa and is leading the polls in New Hampshire by a wide margin, took a similar stance at CPAC. The billionaire developer and reality TV star, who in 1990 advocated legalization as the only way to win the war on drugs, said he opposes marijuana legalization, which has led to “some big problems” in Colorado. But when asked whether states should be free to legalize marijuana, he said, “If they vote for it, they vote for it.” Trump reiterated his support for marijuana federalism while campaigning in Nevada last October. “In terms of marijuana and legalization,” he said, “I think that should be a state issue, state by state.”

    Marco Rubio, who finished just a point behind Trump in Iowa and could take second or third place in New Hampshire, has been less clear on the subject. In an interview with talk radio host Hugh Hewitt last April, the Florida senator said he was against marijuana legalization while conceding that “states have a right to do what they want.” At the same time, he said, “they don’t have a right to write federal policy,” and “we need to enforce our federal laws.”

    But the real question is how Rubio would enforce federal law. The Obama administration continues to prosecute people for marijuana offenses even in states that have legalized the drug for medical or recreational use. But its general policy is not to prosecute people who comply with state law. Would Rubio raid state-licensed marijuana businesses? He seems keen to avoid answering that question.

    Rubio came close in an ABC News interview last April. When the interviewer, Jonathan Karl, asked whether the federal government should enforce pot prohibition in states that legalize marijuana, Rubio replied: “Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced. I understand that states have decided to legalize possession under state law, but the trafficking, the sale of these products, that’s a federal crime.” When Karl tried to nail down the implications of that answer, Rubio switched to talking about why legalizing marijuana is a bad idea.

    Similarly, in a Meet the Press interview last August, host Chuck Todd asked Rubio whether he would “use the federal government to supersede those state laws.” His reply: “Well, federal government needs to enforce federal law.” Todd tried to draw him out more, and Rubio reiterated, “I believe the federal government needs to enforce federal law.”

    Among the single-digit candidates who remain in the race, Ben Carson says he would enforce the federal ban but make an exception for medical use, while Jeb Bush, Carly Fiorina, and John Kasich all say they oppose marijuana legalization but think states should be free to adopt that policy (Kasich says “probably”).

    By contrast, Chris Christie has made no bones about his intent to shut down marijuana legalization if he is elected president. Last April, New Jersey’s governor told Hugh Hewitt: “I will crack down and not permit it….Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law, and the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.” During a town hall meeting in New Hampshire last July, Christie offered a warning to cannabis consumers in Colorado: “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it. As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

    As I noted last year, that is actually not a very popular position among Republican voters. Surveys indicate that even though most Republicans (unlike Americans generally) do not want to legalize marijuana, most think states should be able to do so without federal interference, which is the position most of the presidential candidates have taken. It is therefore not surprising that Republican voters don’t seem to be rewarding Christie for his conspicuous cannabis combativeness.

    The top two Republican contenders have explicitly rejected the heavy-handed meddling Christie favors, while the candidate in third place seems leery of fully embracing it. Meanwhile, Christie, who unabashedly proclaims his determination to impose marijuana prohibition on states that have opted out of it, finished eighth in Iowa, is running sixth in New Hampshire polling, and has never scored higher than 5 percent in national surveys. Bad news for Christie is good news for advocates of a less violent, more tolerant drug policy.

    By Jacob Sullum - Forbes/Feb. 4, 2016
    Art: warmongersreport
    Newshawk Crew

    Author Bio

    BT2H is a retired news editor and writer from the NYC area who, for health reasons, retired to a southern US state early, and where BT2H continues to write and to post drug-related news to DF.


  1. Joe-(5-HTP)
    So Christie is the main one to worry about and Rubio looks shifty.
  2. Beenthere2Hippie
    Christie is a huge problem.

    Rubio is surging and has been since Iowa. Funny that "some" republicans are referring to Rubio as the conservative version of John F. fucking Kennedy, which is, of course, ludicrous, and desperate Jeb Bush has taken to dragging his frail and elderly mom, Barbara, around the snowy New Hampshire voting area (may she not fall and break a hip) in effort to brand himself a true Bush. Oiy.

    Ted Cruz is the sleaziest of all of the conservatives and, no doubt, leaves a slime trail when he walks. What he did to Dr. Ben Carson boils down to steal his voters by putting out false information (along with cnn) on Carson.

    Politics suck, and, as it stands now in this country, is very dirty business indeed.
  3. tatittle
    Great post. Good old small gov't principles can save an issue even if the elites disagree with it. Too bad slavery screwed up the soveriegnty of the states in the USA. Otherwise we could essentially have 50 individual countries (legally at least)...all the diversity that manifests, and the opp'ty to choose which of those unique places to live in. What coulda been. At least the Republicans seem to pay lip service to the principle still.

    On this issue its pretty easy to see that Christie was an ambitious and largely "successful" District Attorney. He handled alot of the 9/11 terror criminal investigations etc. He probably wants to increase spending dramatically on stuff like rehabs and treatment programs (including methadone etc.), as he is very "compassionate" to addiction as a disease. He is more like the Democrats on this issue though in that he wants the govt to strictly oversee and regulate anything having to do with scheduled substances.
  4. tatittle
    FACT: JFK (and his stable of academic policy advisors) proposed a policy which CUT tax RATES explicitely in order to INCREASE tax REVENUE and stimulate the economy. It worked then just as it worked for Reagan. This is almost the antithesis of Sanders and Clinton, and is Rubio's position exactly. For some reason the relationship and difference between tax rates and tax revenue is over the head of many voters today.


    """Our true choice is not between tax reduction, on the one hand, and the avoidance of large Federal deficits on the other. It is increasingly clear that no matter what party is in power, so long as our national security needs keep rising, an economy hampered by restrictive tax rates will never produce enough revenues to balance our budget just as it will never produce enough jobs or enough profits… In short, it is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the rates now."""

    AS for "inequality" of cutting tax RATES on the rich, history once again reveals another paradox:
    Just as happened in the 1920s, the share of the income tax burden borne by the rich increased following the tax cuts. Tax collections from those making over $50,000 per year climbed by 57 percent between 1963 and 1966, while tax collections from those earning below $50,000 rose 11 percent. As a result, the rich saw their portion of the income tax burden climb from 11.6 percent to 15.1 percent.
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