Written in 2014 (with a few edits now), when the GOP still pretended to be the party of our grandpas and the working man:
Cannabis Policy Reform has GOP Written All Over It
Democrats gave us the Marihuana Tax Act 1937 and the Controlled Substances Act 1970 (with Nixon’s help) and Minimum Mandatories and crime bills incarcerating entire generations and three stoner Presidents who refused to legalize and another who didn’t just to spite NORML. Democrat Senators Biden, Harris, and Feinstein are proud of their drug warrior status. Only once state regulated pot got big did a few pivot to pro-legalization.
Traditionally, the Republican Party is all about smaller government, less government interference in people’s private lives, personal responsibility, “unalienable” rights, people as a sovereign, “an uncompromising commitment to liberty,” and against corruption. Aspirational ideals to be sure, but at least they had them. In 2020, the party floated no policy platform, a first.
But when it comes to Cannabis these ideals are all violated on a daily basis in every town, city, county, and state, because of the federal.
John Adams said: “Men must be ready, they must pride themselves, and be happy to sacrifice their private Pleasures, Passions, and Interests, nay their private Friendships and dearest connections, when they Stand in Competition with the Rights of society.”
Geraldo Rivera expressed surprise that he gets no hate mail on legalization but is bombarded when it’s any other social issue, like gay rights. “Why aren’t conservatives angry about this?” he asked. “Are they secretly potheads?”
GOP icons like George Shultz, Milton Friedman, Paul Volcker and WF Buckley (the GOP intelligentsia) were for legalization. Today, Rand Paul, Ron Paul, Glenn Beck, Andrew Napolitano, Sarah Palin, and even Reagan’s speechwriter, Dana Rohrbacher, are.
Eighteen years ago, William F Buckley wrote that “the drug war is lost. So why are we still fighting it?”
How Cannabis reform is reflected in traditional GOP ideals:
States’ rights, 47 (98% of population) have some form of Cannabis reform contra federal law, creating a Constitutional crisis.
Farmers’ rights and welfare.
Hemp as a non-drug crop.
Government interference in your private relationship with your doctor and treatment.
Personal responsibility vs federal dictate.
Grandfathered: Cannabis in America is older than America itself. Taxes were once paid in hemp stalks, it’s cultivation once mandated.
No adult harm thus no compelling government interest.
Unwarranted government intrusion into our homes and private lives.
President Nixon’s own Shafer Commission report of hand-picked GOP Prohibitionists recommended federal decriminalization. Congressional intent was for Cannabis to be only temporarily in Schedule 1, awaiting the recommendations of that report where to properly Schedule it as everyone knew it was in fact medicinal. Nixon buried the report in order to criminalize the drug of choice of his political critics, protesters of his illegal war. Nixon’s last dirty trick continues to this day.
Good social benefits (less teen use, less drunk driving, fewer suicides, reduced pharmaceuticals, increased happiness).
The Big Business angle, free market and all.
Taxation + cost savings is massive. Get now-underground money into banks and taxed.
Reduce supply from abroad, “Grown in America.”
Not criminalizing human nature and calling it morality.
Violation of 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 10th, and 14th Amendments.
Schedule 1 for Cannabis is unconstitutional as a majority of states have in fact medical value.
The very idea that ANY agriculture could be illegal, or that God makes mistakes.
The pursuit of happiness.
The government actually sells marijuana for $2,500/kg to those whom it gives a permit, an oligopoly. Only they can get get patents and trademarks.
FDA stifles commercial free speech, medical claims and drug approvals.
In many communities, regulation breeds corruption.
Constitutional “Originalism:” The Con is silent on regulation of Cannabis of any kind.
GOP icon US Supreme Court Justice Thomas: “In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.”
Our founding fathers’ proclivity for Cannabis (Washington wrote he “got home too late to pull the males” in his hemp field).
The numerous mentions of Kaneh Bosm (Cannabis) in the bible.
And that thing we send troops in to fight for: Democracy. 92% of adults want legalization.
If Republicans were smart they would seize the high ground on the issue by passing decrim in the House and forcing the Senate’s hand. Dems will have no option but to go along. And we will have no option but to cheer.