Romney Vows to Fight Marijuana Legalization 'Tooth and Nail'—Unlike His Opponent?


This clip of Mitt Romney talking about marijuana at an appearance in New Hampshire is about a month and a half old, but I don't think anyone has noted it here yet. It is interesting for the way it reflects the basic difference between Romney and Barack Obama when it comes to drug policy, which is a matter of style rather than substance. Asked about legalizing marijuana for medical use, Romney gives the standard prohibitionist response:

I would not legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the reasons are straightforward: As I talk to people in my state and at the federal government level about marijuana and its role in society, they are convinced that the entry way into a drug culture for our young people is marijuana. Marijuana is the starter drug….The idea of medical marijuana is designed to get marijuana out in the public marketplace and ultimately lead to the legalization of marijuana overall. And in my view, that's the wrong way to go. I know that other people have differing views. If you'd like to get someone who is in favor of marijuana, I know there are some on the Democratic side of the aisle who will be happy to get in your campaign. But I'm opposed to it, and if you elect me president, you're not going to see legalized marijuana. I'm going to fight it tooth and nail.

In short, medical marijuana is bad because it leads to recreational marijuana, which is bad because it leads to crack and heroin. Romney's reply got applause, so he apparently knows his audience, although recent polls indicate the general public is more likely than not to support marijuana legalization. Romney's reference to Democrats reinforces the notion that Team Blue is more tolerant than Team Red when it comes to people's drug choices. While it's true that the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act has more Democratic than Republican co-sponsors (18 vs. two), the numbers are tiny on both sides of the aisle, nothing like what you might expect based on the popularity of this policy change. More to the point, President Obama, the guy Romney is running against, is every bit as opposed to marijuana legalization, as he emphasizes when he isn't laughing at the very notion. Furthermore, contrary to his campaign promises, he has presided over a crackdown on medical marijuana more aggressive than his Republican predecessor's. The difference is that Romney is candid about his anti-cannabis absolutism, while Obama pretends to be more enlightened and compassionate.