Today Ted Cruz Is a Marijuana Federalist—a Year Ago, Not So Much

The likely presidential candidate now says states should be free to legalize.



At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland today, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) endorsed marijuana federalism during an exchange with Fox News talk show host Sean Hannity. "Look," Cruz said. "I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called 'the laboratories of democracy.' If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that's their prerogative. I personally don't agree with it, but that's their right."

It is heartening to hear Cruz, a likely candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, endorse this position, which any consistent federalist should support, regardless of his feelings about marijuana. Yet it seems inconsistent with Cruz's criticism of the Obama administration for failing to interfere with legalization in Colorado and Washington. Speaking at a Texas Public Policy Foundation conference in Austin a little more than a year ago, Cruz argued that the Justice Department should be vigorously enforcing the federal ban on marijuana in those states:

A whole lot of folks now are talking about legalizing pot….And you can make arguments on that issue. You can make reasonable arguments on that issue. The president earlier this past year announced the Department of Justice is going to stop prosecuting certain drug crimes. Didn't change the law.

You can go to Congress. You can get a conversation. You could get Democrats and Republicans who would say, "We ought to change our drug policy in some way," and you could have a real conversation. You could have hearings. You could look at the problem. You could discuss commonsense changes that maybe should happen or shouldn't happen. This president didn't do that. He just said, "The laws say one thing"—and mind you, these are criminal laws; these are laws that say if you do X, Y, and Z, you will go to prison. The president announced, "No, you won't."

The Justice Department did not actually say it would "stop prosecuting certain drug crimes." In the memo to which Cruz was alluding, Deputy Attorney General James Cole told federal prosecutors they should focus their efforts on marijuana suppliers who are either breaking state law or implicating any of eight "federal law enforcement priorities." For good and ill, the feds have a great deal of discretion in how they enforce the Controlled Substances Act, and they have never prosecuted more than a tiny percentage of violators. Yet Cruz criticized the Obama administration for using that discretion to respect state policy choices. The alternative—raiding every state-licensed grower and retailer—would have effectively shut down these "laboratories of democracy," or at least their experiments with allowing commercial production and distribution. 

If the prospect of seeking the Republican nomination has encouraged Cruz to rethink this issue, that's a hopeful sign not only for him but for his party. "Marijuana policy reform is, at its heart, a conservative issue," says Don Murphy, a former Republican state legislator from Maryland who now works at the Marijuana Policy Project. "This is a matter of federalism, the 10th Amendment, and state autonomy, which are core conservative priorities. Marijuana prohibition is a failed federal government policy, and rolling it back should be on the agenda of every principled Republican lawmaker. It's encouraging to see so many Republican presidential hopefuls have embraced the position that the federal government has no business interfering in state marijuana laws."

NEXT: Analytics Expert Dispels Major Myths of Legalized Sports Gambling

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  1. A prohibitionist stance against cannabis by politicians is now a losing stance. All but the most ignorant of politicians know this. Cruz might be a die hard SoCon, but he’s not stupid like Andy Harris and Booger.

  2. The states have no more rights to be tyrants than the federal government does.

    1. Yeah, but I’ll take a small step in the direction of liberty over federal despotism.

      1. The sure-fire statist strategy in federalism:
        “Ok, we won’t interfere with your laws”
        “But if you don’t do what we want, we’ll withold funds”
        “And recall you states have no right to create your own money”

        However the fed gov itself is comprised of state reps, so in thinking about it that way, there’s not much of a separation between the two portions of a nation state. Even executive powers are wholly granted by legislation of those state reps (see FCC).

    2. Drug laws are stupid but they aren’t tyranny. Talk about crying wolf.

      1. What do you call violating the 10th amendment?

      2. Really? Why don’t you tell that to the millions of people who have been killed or have had their lives ruined by the WOD?

        I’m waiting right here until you get back.

        1. Right after you get back from telling the Holocaust and Stalinist purge victims that they’re the same as people who wanted to smoke pot but couldn’t.

          1. Oh, I see, it’s different because of the reason that the government wants to oppress and kill me, right? If it’s because of religion, it’s bad, but if it’s because I like to use a certain plant for my own pleasure, then let the genocide begin, right?

            1. Then you should have no problem telling the Holocaust survivors they’re the same as pot prohibition survivors.

              1. I don’t have any problems with telling morons like you to piss the fuck off.

          2. When the result is mass imprisonment and death (of which the WoD results in and all resistance leads to death by the state), it hardly matters why your freedom is taken away, Tulpa.

            1. By that logic, putting murderers and rapists in jail is tyranny.

              1. I see you deliberately ignored what I said about freedom i.e. exercise of individual rights.

              2. By your logic use of a plant is equivalent to murder or rape.

                Funny thing, that logic. Works both ways.

                1. Actually no, that’s still np’s logic.

              3. By that logic, you are confusing consensual and non-consensual crimes.

            2. We have to destroy the children to save them.

      3. On July 28, 2014, Reason TV released “Do You Have It Up Your A ss?”: Drug Warriors in New Mexico Go Too Far. Incorporating footage from cameras on the dashboards and lapels of New Mexico law enforcement officers, the program tells the story of Timothy Young, a man who was pulled over in Lordsburg, New Mexico, for a traffic violation in October 2012.

        Deputies obtained a warrant and brought Eckert to the hospital in Deming, New Mexico, where a doctor refused to conduct an anal cavity search, calling it unethical. Undeterred, deputies drove Eckert an hour north to another hospital, where doctors had agreed to search Young’s anal cavity. While at the Gila Regional Medical Center, Eckert was X-rayed, digitally probed, forced to endure several enemas, and ultimately put under and given a colonoscopy without his consent. Once again, no drugs were found.

        Young and Eckert sued all the parties involved. So far, Young has been awarded $925,000 from Hidalgo County, and Eckert has been awarded $1.6 million from Hidalgo County and the city of Deming.

  3. Yet it seems inconsistent with Cruz’s criticism of the Obama administration for failing to interfere with legalization in Colorado and Washington.

    The consistency is found the criticism of the Obama administration part.

  4. As the poll blows, Cruz blows the pole.

  5. Even dumbass politicians are starting to see the writing on the wall. MJ legalization has now happened in more states than the first two. And nothing bad whatsoever is happening in WA or CO (as long as you don’t consider “stupid retail rollouts that take way too long with too many rules” to be that bad), and people seem to be recognizing that. The seal had to be broken, WA and CO did it, and now an absurd, idiotic decades long prohibition is coming to an end. This is NOT going to reverse. It’s going to accelerate. And any politician who can test the winds with some skill is going to realize that.

    Soon enough MJ bullshit will run at about the level of alcohol bullshit, which is to say: very low level, and mostly about crony distribution shit more than anything else, with a small heaping of “for the children” bullshit on the side.

    1. You’d think they would also see the same writing on the wall about the 2nd amendment, but democrats cannot seem to stop beating their heads on that wall of stupid.

      1. 15-20 years ago the Dem politicians were still openly calling for handgun bans, enforced by confiscation. They have gotten a lot smarter on that issue, at least with their rhetoric.

        1. And yet their fearless leader, today, tries to ban ammunition without the consent of congress. I am not sure they have gotten any smarter at all. I need more convincing.

    2. You may not have noticed the legal BAC limits plunging across the country at the behest of MADD prohibitionists.

      1. Oh Tulpa, your pathetic need to be a moronic contrarian is just something you can’t resist.

        1. Better a contrarian than an argumentless groupthink enforcer.

          1. I absolutely love how delusional you are. It’s fantastic. You’re a legend in your own mind. I guess you have to, because otherwise you’d have to face up to your own stupidity, mendacity, and mediocrity, and actually acknowledging that to yourself would probably just break your brain. Which would be really funny too, though.

            1. I said nothing about myself in that comment.

              1. Didn’t you?

                1. No. I spoke of contrarians and groupthink enforcers, and I am neither.

              2. This would be funny if you weren’t so sad…oh wait, my bad, I got it backwards. I mean this would be sad if it wasn’t so god damned funny.


    Patricia Arquette’s Spectacular Intersectionality Fail

    White women: let’s not go all “Je Suis Patricia Arquette” on this shit. Let’s listen to people who know better than we do about what it’s like to be a non-white or non-straight or a non-white non-straight person who is asked, from one of the world’s most prominent media platforms, to “fight” for someone who already has so, so much more.

    These people are the most joyless, whining scum I have ever come across. Do you think they ever wake up in the middle of the night and realize ‘holy shit. I am wasting my life whining about pointless bullshit.’

    1. No. It’s a compulsion for them. They don’t even realize that it’s a compulsion.

      You’ll note that almost all of the SJW/professional whiner crowd tends to be actually white and middle/upper middle class. I’d say that I think there is some kind of massive guilt complex going on with them, and the only way they can assuage it is to worry at utterly pointless bullshit constantly, because then they think they’re “doing something” and also it means they can’t/shouldn’t be lumped in with all the other “privileged” white people (which is what they feel guilty about).

      However, to even have this guilt complex in the first place means they believe in collective guilt based solely on skin color, so you know you’re dealing with total collectivists. Which is why all their bullshit breaks down to idiocy about levels of privilege that are basically stratification of collectivized groups based on various factors like skin color, gender, and sexuality.

      It’s my theory that you cannot actually be happy if you think this way, because you cannot treat other humans as individuals; your entire perception of yourself and others is based on buckets that you can put them in so to understand how they “rank” against one another.

      It might be a form of sociopathy; an inability to see others as people and to empathize with them. But it sure seems, from all the people who do this, that it is NOT an enjoyable existence. They are some of the angriest, nastiest, most hateful people you can encounter.

      1. I think I’ve seen shorter psychoanalysis from Freud himself. Sheesh

        1. Nailed him, Bo! Wooo!

    2. Wow, she sure has to go out of her way to be offended that an actress spouting feminist talking points isn’t…I can’t even say…isn’t PC enough.

  7. I’m not a big fan of Cruz but I can’t fault the man for moving closer to a better position on this.

    I think one of the best legacies that will come from the mess that was the Obama administration is that his non draconian response to states legalizing marijuana allowed the movement to get a foothold of legitimacy to get the ball really rolling on nationwide decriminalization.

    And he did it by doing nothing. There’s some wisdom in that I wish more leaders, including Obama himself on nearly every other issue, could benefit from realizing.

    1. Unless you’re a California medical mj supplier, in which case whether you get raided depends on whether Holder got up on the wrong side of the bed.

  8. Politician is a windsock. In other news; Water is wet.

    I would still settle for this windsock over most of the others.

    1. I just got a mailer from him. Huge envelope, with a few bucks worth of postage. Bizarre. I haven’t voted in a national election in over 10 years.

    2. Problem is, Cruz has thus far sold himself as a principled candidate.

      Nobody ever had any such illusions about Mitt Romney, for example.

      1. This hardly puts Cruz in Romney territory

        1. Quit talking to yourself.

          1. Yawn

    3. Most, but not all. Rand is still the best candidate. This does raise the prospects for Cruz, but he still comes up short, as there is not even any reason to believe that he’s sincere, as of yet.

      1. He is the less stinky turd.

        When I see pols do this kind of shit it I think they don’t actually believe anything at all except winning. They are sociopaths. To them befriending you or cutting your throat are moral equivalents. They will chose whichever would get them what they want.

        Paul appears to be an actual human being which makes him least likely to get the nomination.

        I hope I am wrong.

      2. Rand Paul has no chance in a general election.

        Rick Perry or go home.

        1. Piss the fuck off, troll.

          1. It’s not trolling if you’re sincere.

            1. Or retarded.

  9. The USS Gabrielle Giffords

    Please do take a moment to read the comments. It will be the most entertaining thing you do today.

    1. They name ships after living people? That’s a travesty.

      Beyond the fact it’s a politicized person.

      1. “living people?”

        Umm, sort of.

        1. I find it interesting that a sailor who expressed support for Ron Paul in uniform could be court-martialed, but there’s no problem with naming a boat after a living Congressperson.

    2. Those are some great comments.

      “I hope that ship doesn’t hold more than ten rounds.”

      1. It gets better. People are mean.
        *shrugs shoulders*

      2. Fredric Alan Maxwell: “Now if they fire at Gabby Giffords, Gabby Giffords will fire back, with huge bullets.”
        Like ? Reply ? 5 hours ago

        Scott A Stewart: “Or take a hit to the bridge and operate at half speed.”

      3. “Out of respect for her, it should be gun free and only steer to the left.”


        “Why does the UNITED STATES NAVY need a ship with NO guns and DROOLS oil all over its chin”

        There are several hundred of these comments posted every hour.

        1. It’s classy stuff for sure.

    3. Mike Crockett
      To be followed by the USS Trayvon Martin, and USS Al Sharpton.. The Sharpton employs the same stealth measures that have shielded him from the IRS… As an enemy ship such as the “SS Kracka” nears the Sharpton its wake produces a racist white cap.
      Like ? Reply ? 3 ? 4 minutes ago

    4. “It’a Literal Combat Ship! Wake up sheeple!”

  10. I haven’t been following Cruz’s marijuana position but the above is not contradictory. Federalism doesn’t mean we’ll make a federal law but apply it whenever the fuck we feel like it.

    1. That’s a good point. You can argue ‘the Federal government shouldn’t make this law’ and simultaneously argue that once laws exist the president doesn’t get to choose which ones he follows.

      1. Except that he hasn’t done either of those things. He does not support repeal of CSA, and is now explicitly in favor of ignoring it in WA and CO.

        1. Is that what he says, it’s not in the quote above.

          1. Yes, it very much is (at least with respect to CO):

            “If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”

            1. What are you on about? Whether he believes in Federalism, or whether he believes marijuana should be legal are two separate issues.

    2. Had he argued for repealing the Controlled Substances Act last year, or at least rescheduling MJ, that would have been a good point.

  11. Cruz is a US Senator. If he really feels this way he can introduce a bill to make it happen. I won’t hold my breath…

  12. “Rebuffed so far by Gov. Rick Scott, the Poarch Creek Band of Indians is suggesting it might adopt a hardball negotiating stance: Let us offer gambling in a few Florida locations, or we could consider growing and selling marijuana on our property.”…..a_let.html

  13. Better late to the party than never, I reckon.

  14. The real reason everybody here is skeptical of Cruz: he and Cytotoxic spawned in the same geographical area.

    1. Don’t other me, man.

    2. What gave you that idea? Sadly, it is not true.

  15. In the quoted material, Cruz criticizes Obama for deciding all on his own not to enforce an extant federal law. That’s not necessarily inconsistent with supporting federalism.

    There are plenty of things Obama could have done that would be less lawless (ha ha, I know I know), not the least of which would be introducing a bill to repeal or modify federal drug laws to deal with the situation where legalization happens at the state level.

    If Cruz had said ‘eff Colorado, the feds should be throwing all y’all in the pokey!’ that would be different. But that’s not what he said.

  16. Cruz position is entirely consistent–in both statements he supports the states right to legalise marijuana–though he personally is not in favor of it.

    He then decries the Obama administration’s ignoring of the laws they are supposed to enforce rather than taking any kind of real stand.

    It is a shame when so-called political pundits demonstrate such blindness. One cannot help but think it willful.

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