Politicians say so many remarkably stupid things about marijuana and drug use in general. Let's not try to rank how poorly GOP presidential hopeful and Ohio Gov. John Kasich's approaches legalization and just shoot down the dumb things he says. He sat down for an interview with Michigan's MLive. His home state is considering marijuana legalization, and he tells MLive it's a terrible idea:
"It sends mixes messages to young people about drugs," Kasich told MLive.com on Tuesday as he wrapped up a two-day swing through Michigan. "I don't think we should do that. We need to tell young people to stay off drugs."
Kasich acknowledged the distinction between marijuana and harder drugs like heroin but suggested that legalization could cloud the issue for young people.
"So some drugs are okay but others aren't? We've got kids. Why don't we just say don't do drugs, period," Kasich said.
It's kind of a one-two punch of poorly thought-out, inane reactions that are countered remarkably easily. First, we allow adults to consume alcohol and cigarettes and not kids. To the extent that "mixed messages" are being sent, we're already sending them. And that's not even getting into the absurdity of legally curtailing the freedom of adults to control what they put into their bodies on the basis of how minors will interpret it.
Second, we already live in a culture where "some drugs are okay but others aren't." Check out a pharmacy sometime, why don't you?
So what would Kasich do, as president, if the voters in states overruled him and legalize marijuana anyway? He doesn't appear to be certain:
"I would try to discourage the states from doing it," Kasich said when asked how he would respond if elected president. "Hopefully we'll defeat it in Michigan and Ohio, but if states want to do it … I haven't made a final decision, but I would be tempted to say I don't think we can go and start disrupting what they've decided."
That position would put Kasich in line with a handful of other presidential candidates who have expressed personal opposition to marijuana legalization but indicated they would not interfere with state policy.
Jacob Sullum documented the other candidates' stances on marijuana legalization here. Kasich is hedging, but most candidates support federalist experimentation, even if they personally oppose legalization.
Sullum has also written about Ohio's marijuana legalization initiative, which has other problems besides Kasich's opposition, such as the creation of a small government-authorized cartel of legal growers. Read more here.