Republican Party

Are Republicans Finally Coming Around on Marijuana?


smokershighlife / photo on flickr

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) tells TIME's Alex Altman that if his colleagues didn't have to own their votes, they would already have legalized pot and ended the "monstrous" war on drugs.  

"If it was a secret ballot," Rohrabacher said, "the majority of Republicans would have voted to legalize marijuana a long time ago."

Altman finds some other Republicans who are coming around on pot–former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, Sen. Rand Paul, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Colorado Rep. Mike Coffman–and suggests that "the GOP's Views on Pot are Showing Signs of a Shift." And why not? says oft-quoted political scientist Larry Sabato of UVA. Legalizing pot is "one of the easier things for [Republicans] to do," Sabato says. "It's easier than immigration. It's easier than supporting gay rights."

Sabato is no dummy, but it's not quite that simple. Last year, 50 House Democrats voted against a bipartisan amendment that would have defunded DOJ crackdowns on state-legal medical marjuana dispensaries; while 28 Republicans voted for it. There's more to this than party affiliation (and always has been).

The other complication is that legalization isn't the only option. The diversion model–drug courts, mandatory treatment, probation–is a big hit with state and local Republicans and Democrats, as is decriminalization. And while I've had drug court proponents tell me that the model isn't meant for recreational marijuana users–rather, people who are chemically dependent on harder drugs–the National Association of Drug Court Professionals nevertheless signed on to Patrick Kennedy's letter to Eric Holder calling for the DOJ to block the implementation of recreational marijuana regulations in Colorado and Washington. 

So when it comes time for "stakeholders" in the marijuana debate to testify before Congress, we're going to hear from a lot of people who think that fines and forced rehab are better for the children and the budget than outright legalization. And there's a chance–especially considering that there are groups on the right who are pushing hard for every type of criminal justice reform except legalization–that Republicans will listen to them.

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  1. Why the fuck would treatment for chemical dependency be considered something appropriate for courts to be involved in as opposed to a doctor?

    1. Fuck you, that’s why.

    2. Because drugs are illegal. Same reason almost all of the other stupid shit about drugs happens.

  2. Right.

    A secret ballot.

    Much as I like the thought of ending the WoD, the mischief that would be done by a secret ballot in Congress is terrifying to contemplate.

    How about just growing a spine instead, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher?

    1. I think he is one of the few with a spine. He did sponsor the law that would have prevented federal crackdowns on medical marijuana and I think he has been pretty open about opposition to the drugwar.

    2. I think he was just making a point, that the others are spineless. I don’t think he was suggesting a secret ballot.

    1. I’m kind of an infrequent poster here, but Dunphy actually sounds like one of the more reasonable members of the law enforcement community.

      What’s the rationale for equating him with pigs (which I agree a lot of cops are)?

      Also, for Dunphy, are you a member of LEAP?

      1. 3..2..1…

      2. Stick around for a while and you’ll see his mask slip.

        1. Indeed.

          A “civilian” in a sketchy neighborhood with the nerve to answer his door at 2 am with a gun in his hand deserves every bullet the police pump into his body.

      3. The problem with derpfee is he fancies himself some sort of pseudo hero, bravely protecting people as a cop, yet having desires for liberty. However, he has on more than one occasion defended cops for egregious behavior and continues to say that police are not treated differently than non cops when the same crimes are committed by cops and non cops despite daily, and I mean DAILY, proof by sloop and others is presented to show otherwise. It’s nice he gives lip service on here for some libertarian principles, but over time, read his posts, you will see that he is a cop fellating pig, who has not done anything to change the paramilitary and mafia like culture that permeates today’s police.

        1. OK that helps. If he asserts that cops aren’t treated any differently than non-cops, then that is a good reason to treat anything he says with suspicion.

          1. He does more than assert it. He insists it. And anyone who disagrees, especially those of us who present actual examples where this is the case, are dismissed as being histrionic bigots.

          2. That is the main problem with Dunphy. And he can be quite a dick about it sometimes. But for the most part, I am glad he comments here and it would be a good thing if most cops were more like him (or as he portrays himself), despite his reluctance to condemn other cops.

  3. I think the “easier” comment has some value though. It would be an easy fix for the Feds to simply reclassify Marijuanna down to say…schedule 3, which would allow the States to pretty much do what they want.

    1. Federal schedule 3 would not allow the states to do pretty much what they want, given the evidence of what many of them want now. It would still require prescriptions for dispensing to consumers; about the only way to game that would be for states to designate a new type of “practitioner” who would dispense marijuana for recreational use, as was implicit in the Galiber bill in NY over 20 yrs. ago. The feds would probably take that to court, saying dispensing for recreational use was not the type of “professional practice” that was contemplated by the federal law, as consistent with the Single Convention treaties; not clear how that would come out. Home growing would require time consuming registration with DEA as manufacturers, with security requirements and inspections.

  4. The very best minds this country has to offer.

    “I’d do it in a heartbeat, if I thought nobody’d find out.”


  5. The diversion model–drug courts, mandatory treatment, probation–is a big hit with state and local Republicans and Democrats,

    The graft, its just so . . . juicy and sweet.

  6. The diversion model–drug courts, mandatory treatment, probation–is a big hit with state and local Republicans and Democrats,

    Well, all that pesky “due process” stuff really bogs down the system.

  7. A “civilian” in a sketchy neighborhood with the nerve to answer his door at 2 am with a gun in his hand deserves every bullet the police pump into his body.

    No offense, but you guys got here late.

    Sheriffs deputies, investigating the heinous crime of “underage drinking” execute a guy for getting tired of their bullshit and not “co-operating” in an investigative process which should have lasted ten fucking seconds at the very most. Fearless Fosdick approves.

    1. Round here a couple years ago some distraught dude with a knife had caused a standoff with the cops. Eventually they got sick of standing around and opened fire. Dude had not made an aggressive move or anything. They just wanted to go home. So they executed him. All on camera even.

      Nothing else happened.

      1. A friend of mine got basically railroaded by the cops several years ago for saying something when he saw a similar incident happen. Someone even found comments on a police forum basically showing the police conspiring to get him “into the prison system” for daring to speak ill of the hero cop who shot the dude (who was my neighbor until a year or so ago, fun).

  8. There’s more to this than party affiliation (and always has been).

    Dude, you’re like totally blowing my mind.

  9. Legalization is the single biggest thing the GOP could do to kneecap the Dems, so of course they’ll be too stupid to do it.

    1. That’s why they’re the stupid party.

  10. What does it tell you about a nation that its representatives admit they are too scared to do what they support and believe in?

    1. That they’re doing their jobs, rather than what they feel like. They’re public servants, not public masters, and if they think the public wants a beating, they’re duty bound to give it.


    Gov. Jindal of Louisiana just surprised me.

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