Marijuana

Is Rick Perry 'More Liberal' on Marijuana Than Barack Obama?

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Office of the Governor

During a drug policy panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said states have a right to go their own way on marijuana, although he personally continues to oppose legalization. "I am a staunch promoter of the 10th Amendment," Perry said, explaining that states should be free to set their own policies in areas such as abortion, gay marriage, and marijuana, and "then people will decide where they want to live." At the same time, he declared that Texans "certainly would never jump out in front of the parade" toward legalization, although he said he supports "policies that start us toward a decriminalization and keep people from going to prison and destroying their lives," which is "what we've done over the last decade."

What Perry means by "decriminalization" is pretty much what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie means when he says he will "end the failed war on drugs": giving nonviolent drug offenders a choice between a treatment slot and a prison cell. In other words, it's not really decriminalization, which at the very least means eliminating criminal penalties for users, not using those penalties as a hammer to reform them against their will—which is also what Barack Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, had in mind when he declared that "we certainly ended the drug war."

Still, Perry's federalism is one of the few things I like about him, although I would argue that he is not quite as committed to that principle as he claims to be. U.S. News reporter Steven Nelson says Perry's willingness to let 50 cannabis flowers bloom (or not, as the case may be) is "a more liberal position than the one held by the Obama administration," since "the Justice Department said in August it will conditionally allow Colorado and Washington to open state-licensed stores, but reserved the right to shut them down for violating federal law."

Nelson has a point, although President Obama's recent comments about legalization in Colorado and Washington suggest he is willing to learn from state policy experiments even if he is also prepared to squash them. Yesterday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama, who told The New Yorker "it's important" for legalization in those states "to go forward,"  is "not endorsing any specific move by a state." Rather, "he's talking about the issue of disparities in prosecution of our drug laws that an experiment like this may be addressing." For now, at least, the laboratories of democracy are up and running. 

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  1. This looks like its gonna be really good. No doubt man.

    http://www.Anon-Stuff.tk

  2. Yes, and Dick Cheney has been “more liberal” concerning gay marriage than Obama for almost two decades.

    You think the Proggies are ever going to acknowledge they never possessed, not even once, the moral upper ground in the Der amerikanische Kulturkampf?

  3. Thanks Perry! Just as your leaving office with no more legislative sessions. Damn shame you didn’t have time to do anything about it before.

    Snark aside I’ve never seen a reason to believe his 10th amendment position isn’t genuine.

  4. What Perry means by “decriminalization” is pretty much what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie means when he says he will “end the failed war on drugs”: giving nonviolent drug offenders a choice between a treatment slot and a prison cell.

    What’s magic about “*drug* offender” in this context? Why don’t these clowns give that choice to, say, “nonviolent *speed limit* offenders”? Aren’t *those* offenders at *least* as in need of treatment or punishment for directly endangering the lives of others?

  5. If you believe “Liberal” = in favor of freedom, then Rick Perry is more liberal than Obama on just about every issue (which isn’t saying much).

  6. “…suggest he is willing to learn..

    He has no such willingness; the man believes he knows everything already. The only suggestion is that Obama’s willing to talk, at least as much so that he can hear own voice as for what he actually says.

  7. Seems odd that some libertarians would be supporters of so called Federalism or States Rights on this issue. Government violation of individual rights is wrong no matter whether it is the Federal Government or the State Government doing the violations. In fact, this is an issue where a strong, centralized, rights protecting Federal Government would actually do their job on this one: a rights protecting federal government should end rights violations in states that have legal prohibitions of drugs.

    George Will, as arguably their best representative, exposes the unprincipled morass of conservative thought on this issue. He thinks it is a good idea for California and Colorado to “experiment” with drug legalization before the feds go forward. Experiment with freedom and individual rights? What does he think 1776 was about? An experiment of whether the country liked its tea served hot or cold?

    1. In fact, this is an issue where a strong, centralized, rights protecting Federal Government would actually do their job on this one: a rights protecting federal government should end rights violations in states that have legal prohibitions of drugs.

      “Would actually” seems like a weird claim to make, considering that there were absolutely no successful moves in the federal government to legalize either medical marijuana or the full legalization of marijuana, but state referenda succeeded. At most you can argue “in theory,” but actually totally contradicts your assertion.

      What does he think 1776 was about?

      It was about colonists being annoyed that parts of the United Kingdom couldn’t have local control over their own laws, obviously.

      Government violation of individual rights is wrong no matter who does it, but the power of exit and competitive government is a strong way to ensured that individual rights are respected. When people can’t switch jurisdictions, rights don’t get respected as much. In actuality, a strong, centralized Federal Government tends to be much worse on rights.

  8. Someone in our neighborhood here in Austin narced out their neighbors for smoking pot at home. The cops arrested the 65 year old woman and the 72 year old man for possession. The neighbor was described as a “concerned citizen,” which makes me want to hurl.

    1. ….a stone at their head

    2. They should have used the phrase “a disturbed citizen” for maximum ambiguity, pleasing everyone.

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