Spliff Split

Candidates on marijuana


On July 25, the same day the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raided 10 medical marijuana dispensaries in Los Angeles County, the U.S. House of Representatives once again rejected a measure aimed at stopping the DEA's interference with the therapeutic use of cannabis in the 12 states where it's legal. The 262-165 vote displayed a clear partisan tilt, with 66 percent of Democrats supporting the amendment and 92 percent of Republicans opposing it.

A similar split can be seen among the two major parties' presidential candidates. According to Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana, all of the eight declared candidates for the Democratic nomination have promised to call off the DEA's raids if elected.

By contrast, only two of the nine Republican candidates—Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.)—have said they oppose the DEA raids. Five GOP candidates have said they would continue the current policy. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney gave a strong indication of his position at a July 25 event in New Hampshire, where he said, "I don't want medicinal marijuana" because "marijuana is the entry drug for people trying to get kids hooked on drugs." Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson, who announced his candidacy in September, has not taken a clear stand on the issue.

Straight-talking Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) managed to take both sides of the issue within three months. When he was asked about medical marijuana in April, he said, "I will let states decide the issue." In July, asked if he would end the DEA's raids, he said, "Right now my answer to you is no."
In any case, what a candidate says now does not necessarily indicate what he would do if elected. Back in 1999, George W. Bush said medical marijuana policy should be left to the states.