Ted Cruz Reiterates His Support for Marijuana Federalism

"The people of Colorado have the right to make the decision," he tells reporters in Denver.


Denver Post video

In two interviews on Saturday, Ted Cruz reiterated his support for marijuana federalism. "Personally," he told the ABC station in Denver, "I would vote against marijuana legalization. If the state of Texas had a referendum on it, I would vote no. But I think it is the prerogative of the states to make that determination. I think the people of Colorado have the right to make the decision that they've made under the Constitution, and as president I would respect that right."

Talking to The Denver Post the same day, Cruz explained the practical advantages of letting states go their own way. "It is an opportunity for the rest of the country to see what happens here in Colorado, what happens in Washington state, see the states implement the policies," he said. "If it works well, other states may choose to follow. If it doesn't work well, other states may choose not to follow." He said it was too early to say how legalization is going in Colorado.

Those comments comport with what Cruz said at last year's Conservative Political Action Conference. "I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called 'the laboratories of democracy,'" he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. "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." That marked a turnaround from Cruz's stance a year before, when he was complaining that the Obama administration had abdicated its responsibility to enforce the federal marijuana ban in states that had legalized the drug.

Most of the major-party presidential candidates (including all of those who remain in the race) agreed with Cruz that the feds should not interfere with marijuana legalization in states such as Colorado and Washington. The most vigorous dissenter from that position, Chris Christie, never scored higher than 5 percent in national polls. After quitting the race in February, Christie endorsed Donald Trump, who like Cruz says states should be free to legalize pot. 

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  1. But if the people start dancing, man, all bets are off.

  2. So smoke your dope and don’t worry about any primary.

  3. So if Ted Cruz is against something but doesn’t want to use the to restrict it, doesn’t that technically make this Bible believing Socon more tolerant than his Leftist counterparts?

    1. He’s just saying that until he’s president. Then, “BEHOLD HIS MIGHTY HAND!”

      1. I really hate it when this happens to me, so I’d like to take a moment to point out that Rich said it first, and said it funnier.

        1. Nothing is worse than Onslaught. Maybe Bloodlines or Nu52.

    2. We won’t find out how he feels about absolute federal power until he has it. It’s unsporting to just tell us right out how he plans to use that power, because then we might not give it to him.

      1. Yeah, that’s true. At the very least though he’s claiming he won’t use his power against this thing he doesn’t like. I’ve never seen a Leftist do that, so that technically makes him more tolerant in the literal definition of the word, doesn’t it?

        1. This. Everyone else is basically promising to rule as a dictator.

    3. Probably. But Gary Johnson is still better.

      1. GayJay won’t be the 2016 LP nominee.

        1. I think he will be. But then again, it’s the LP, who’s campaign strategy can be summed up thusly.

      2. Gay jay seems to have an issue where he wants to punish people for bad think.

        1. GayJay thinks prostitution is great and can totally be made safe enough for commoners to engage in, once government is running it.

        2. Either that or he doesn’t think it’s a battle worth fighting. The principled libertarian position doesn’t play well in sound bites. “Look, this guy wants to bring back Jim Crow!” And let’s face it, public accommodation laws aren’t going away.

    4. Well, officially, Obama promised he wouldn’t use federal law enforcement to move against dispensaries in states, like California, where they were operating legally.

      It’s just that after saying that, the federal government kept raiding them by the dozen. . . . and after that batch of raids, Obama would reiterate that he didn’t see any need to raid dispensaries that were legal in their own states–and then he’d raid some more.

      Yeah, for people on the left, it’s pretty easy to straddle that fence. If you’re against what you, yourself, are doing–and state publicly that you’re against what you, yourself, are doing–then you get the best of both worlds.

      Well, they, the leftist politicians, get the best of both worlds. The rest of us get the shaft.

    5. Being pro cannabis prohibition is a losing position right now for any candidate. He’s saying what he has to say to get votes. He clearly thinks that people should be thrown in a cage over a plant, he’s not even really trying to hide that.

      1. “Being pro cannabis prohibition is a losing position right now for any candidate.”

        I’m not sure candidates on the left feel that way. They’d probably just as soon not talk about it.

        Progressives don’t want to accidentally suggest that the government isn’t the solution to social problems, and they don’t want to accidentally suggest that anybody has a right to own a plant either.

        1. I’m sure most of them would rather not talk about it. Letting people do what they want is a thing that the majority of politicians will lose sleep over.

  4. Well, I think we should denounce Cruz for his lack of libertarian purity. An individual’s right to choose what goes into her body shouldn’t depend on the outcome of a statewide popularity contest, right?

    Actually, here’s to hopin’ Cruz saves us from the other likely options.

    1. He’s always going to be dancing on the edges of libertarianism — maybe he’ll move closer in, maybe not. But he is the best major-party option overall, so I’m backing him as far as he goes.

      1. Being the best major party option is, at this point, a pretty dubious honor. But you’re right.

        I can’t see myself voting for him, but given the alternatives he is probably the least bad candidate left with any realistic shot.

        I’m still throwing my weight behind a double digit LP showing, though. I believe!

        1. If Cruz is the nominee, the LP will have a relatively small showing. If it’s Trump, or some stooge like Kasich or Ryan is nominated in a rigged convention… The LP will be Uge.

          1. I actually think Trump is the only thing that will get people to take a look at the LP. Trump supporters aren’t going to vote LP.

          2. Let’s not over exagerate. It won’t be Uge, more like uge.

        2. Agreed — I’ve said previously that there’s a fair bit I disagree with him on, but there’s enough I like about him to vote for him in the primary, and then the general if he wins the nomination. I’d rather pick a true libertarian candidate, but I’ve got to be realistic — I can’t risk Hillary (or, God help us, Bernie) winning just to vote Johnson over Cruz.

          However, if Trump takes the nomination I’m definitely voting LP.

          1. Yes, long-term thinking is hard. All that matters is what happens in the very next election. So vote for an evil scumbag who is slightly less evil than the other evil scumbag; that’ll teach the major parties not to put forth terrible candidates and encourage future candidates to adopt libertarian positions! We see this every election: Hordes of shortsighted people voting for the ‘lesser of two evils’; it never works and it’s always stupid.

            With their current lineup, the Republican party should lose. They deserve it. Maybe that will mean experiencing some pain in the short-term, but it needs to happen. That is why I am voting LP.

      2. He seems like the least awful likely option to me.

        It’s my eternal libertarian conundrum. As a libertarian, I don’t believe politicians are the solution to our problems, but as an American, I keep hoping I’m wrong about that.

        1. I agree that he’s the best major party option. I’ll vote for him in the primaries. I’ll still vote LP in the general.

  5. He said it was too early to say how legalization is going in Colorado.

    Ask him again after the elections.

  6. Ted also is entitled to all of CO delegates without any voting. I don’t trust this guy, at all.

    1. 1. Trump got 2 delegates.

      2. Trump might want to hire a campaign manager who can keep up with state rules.…..-delegates

      1. Well, it’s the stupid party, which I am not a member of. They can do whatever they want, but they’re making people angry. So I guess Ted is the new Jeb, since the last new Jeb didn’t work out too well. At least Cruz can honestly win a few primaries. I’ll never vote for him. Rand is the only one of the original GOP nominees who I would ever vote for. I can’t even remember the last time these clowns nominated a candidate I would consider voting for. There’s 0% chance of that again this time.

        1. You’ve read about Clinton emerging with more delegates even when Sanders gets more votes, right?

        2. Cruz is running the Paul strategy from 4 years ago. They made it harder aftet Paul won Iowa and other states, but Cruz is still making it work.

        3. They changed the rules in August. This isn’t some 11th-hour shift to screw Trump, though he’ll likely portray it that way.

        4. Ted is the new Jeb. And I have a hard time believing that Cruz is what he says he is or that if he is the GOP leadership has now gotten religion and is willing to live with him as a nominee. Either Cruz made a deal and sold out or the leadership is just using him to stop Trump and create a contested convention that will allow them to put in Ryan or Romney or someone. No way in hell have they suddenly become all small government and conservative because of Trump. I am not buying it.

          1. Who’s claiming they have?

            1. If they are okay with Cruz being the nominee and haven’t gotten him to sell out and don’t plan to screw him at the convention like they plan to screw Trump, then they have. If Cruz means what he says and they are okay with him being the nominee, they have gone pretty conservative. Just a few months ago they allegedly hated Cruz more than they did Trump.

              1. Who is “they” exactly?

                1. The Establishment boogeyman. If you acknowledge that the Democrats of some say in the way the country is governed then you are a slave to Reince Preibus, Mitch McConnell, the Chamber of Commerce and untold thousands of faceless big money donors.

                  1. The Establishment boogeyman. If you acknowledge that the Democrats of some say in the way the country is governed then you are a slave to Reince Preibus, Mitch McConnell, the Chamber of Commerce and untold thousands of faceless big money donors.

                    I think you have that backwards. The Trump people are saying that you have to acknowledge the Democrats get a say and make a deal with them. It is the Never Trump people who are convinced that you can run an ideologue, win and spend the next four years telling the Democrats to go fuck themselves.

                    1. Trump’s domestic policy can be broadly defined as, “I can do whatever I want because I’m President, nanananabooboo.” There is absolutely no consideration of what is possible, or what the “losers” who disagree with him have to say about the matter.

                      He’s stating that the dastardly foreigners are taking advantage of us through deals negotiated by feckless morons, and that he’ll fix it. The whole idea of which is idiotic, but so is 90% of the Trump political brand.

                    2. KDN,

                      If the Republicans don’t think that we should deport the people living here illegally, then they need to stop saying they care about a secure border. Just what the hell would a secure border look like if not deporting people here illegally?

                      The Republicans are just retarded these days. They claim to support things like securing the border or abortion or fighting Islamic extremism but then act shocked when someone suggests the measures that are actually necessary to do that. They seem to live in this fantasy world where the border can be secured without actually deporting anyone, abortion can be banned without actually punishing anyone who has one, and Islamic extremism can be defeated without actually doing anything against the Muslim community.

                    3. That’s not Trump’s policy at all. His big selling point is his ability to make good deals. So he can do whatever he wants by making deals with those who want something not directly contradictory to what he wants. That’s pretty conventional politics, after all, just that he thinks he’d be better at it than most.

          2. First Paul Ryan, the only member of the leadership or major party candidate in the last decade who ever proposed any type of spending cuts on entitlements, is an irredeemable sellout for unspecified reasons having something to do with a lack of a spine and now Ted Cruz is a a stalking horse for the inner party?

            I give up. This cycle has made everyone nutty.

            1. Ryan is a total sell out. What does it mean to give Obama everything he wants in his budget if not selling out? And yeah, I liked Ryan too back when he had no power and could say nice things and make plans that there was no danger of ever actually being implemented. It was after he got some power and I saw how he actually used it that I soured on Ryan.

              And I don’t think Cruz is necessarily a stalking horse. I just think the total about face by the powers that be on Cruz over the last few months is a bit suspicious. It might be that Cruz is the one who will do the screwing. Maybe they figure they can screw Cruz out of the nomination but Cruz is crafty enough to prove them wrong. And they will be stuck with a nominee they can’t stand. I don’t know.

              Whatever the reason, it is not because they have suddenly gone all small government. I don’t buy that at all.

              1. I don’t know of anyone, anywhere, who’s claiming they’ve suddenly gone all small government.

                A couple of reasons “they” might see Cruz as preferable is that Trump is a shitshow who might take the Senate or even the House down with him, whereas Cruz may not. And if Cruz loses, they get the “See, no one wants these kind of extremist views. We need to be more moderate” card.

                1. And if Cruz loses, they get the “See, no one wants these kind of extremist views. We need to be more moderate” card.

                  Yes. I have never bought the “Trump has no chance” bullshit. I think Trump has attracted a ton of new voters to the party and would have a great chance if the party got behind him.

                  The GOP, however, would rather lose to Hillary than win with Trump. Life under Obama has been great for them. And life under Trump might not be so good since he wouldn’t owe them any loyalty. And as you point out, Cruz losing would have a lot of advantages.

              2. Really, there’s no hope for Ryan because he didn’t forcefully oppose Boehner’s 18 month punt? Come on now. The GOP is in bunker mode: everything is being deferred to after the election, and it’s not like the little bit extra is going to tip the US into default. When time is on your side you use it.

                They’ve never been small government, they are for smaller government. That’s impossible with Obama or another Democrat in the White House, but the base seems to think one more shutdown will get him to change his tune.

              3. Perhaps it’s just wishful thinking, but I see movement in the GOP leadership. They were forced to accept McCain, then Romney, and maybe a Cruz or even a Trump. The party has become more liberal (socially) by force, or the leadership is just hoping they can turn the tide. But the Tea Party and the fiscal conservatism of the 1990s has had some effect. But then, they may just be moving closer to what the Democrats were twenty years ago.

                1. Forced to accept Romney?! That’s not exactly like squeezing someone into a tight girdle!

                2. Forced to accept Romney?! That’s not exactly like squeezing someone into a tight girdle!

          3. The GOP panjandrums are hardcore NeverTrumpers, because he’s not their boy.

            Their only goal right now is to somehow get past the first ballot at the convention. The only way that happens is if Cruz gets enough delegates to cockblock Trump on the first ballot.

            After that, its brokered, baby, and they can get one of their Beltway Buttboys the nom.

            Thus, paving the way for Hillary to take office. Its honestly one of the few scenarios where I think she wins. In a Trump v Hillary matchup, I give Trump an edge. In a Hillary v Beltway Buttboy matchup, she wins because 1/3 of Republicans stay home.

          4. It’s not going to help stop Trump once he & Cruz make a deal, which looks like the sensible thing for both of them to do.

    2. Trump supporters are butthurt because they didn’t bother to learn the rules of how CO assigns its delegates. They showed up to a soccer match with a basketball, then were shocked that Cruz actually bothered to put together a ground game, instead of just assuming a uuuge win.

      1. So what? The GOP is going to need their votes in November. Pissing them off is a really stupid idea.

  7. We’ll see if he’s telling the truth in the event he wins the Presidency. We’ve heard these promises before, and they all ended up being false. The only way to guarantee that a President Cruz, Clinton, or Trump don’t intervene in the states that have legalized marijuana is by helping legalization pass in all the states where its on the ballot. If we keep the pendulum swinging in our favor it will keep the politicians out of our way.

  8. But he only answered about pot, so that’s not enough, right John?

  9. MSNBC spin: Cruz endorses states-rights in order to bring back slavery

  10. Here is the problem with “marijuana federalism”; unless you want to pull it off of the drug schedule such that it is no longer illegal to import under federal law, or you want to adopt a federalism position on all drugs, how is marijuana federalism in any way consistent with the rule of law? It is just the President deciding to not enforce the laws on the books. That is a nice result but it is also a nice result achieved by terrible means. If the President can not enforce marijuana laws, he is free to not enforce any other laws. And I don’t think the results of that will always be as pleasant as this.

    If Cruz wants marijuana federalism, he should do it the right way and take it off the federal schedule and let the states handle it. Maybe that is what he wants to do. I have never heard him say that though. It seems like he just want to be a magnanimous overlord and grant this one indulgence. Nice of him but I don’t like the implications of it.

    1. It seems to me he is acknowledging that the federal law is unconstitutional under the 10th amendment. He isnt SAYING that, but it is implied.

      1. And I agree with him about that. The problem is that if the federal law on Marijuana is unconstitutional then so are the laws criminalizing every other kind of drug. I haven’t heard where Cruz would apply this reasoning anywhere but Marijuana. Is there a “but if it is really bad drugs, its different” clause to the 10th Amendment I somehow missed?

        1. Have you heard him being asked about other drugs and heard him say that the 10th would apply differently?

          1. I have not. And maybe he would do the same on all drugs. But, that would be one hell of a big deal.

            I guess Cruz could say he would if the states chose to decriminalize those drugs. That the federal law banning them is just reaffirming and assisting the state bans. That it is okay as long as all or some critical mass of the states agree.

            I am not sure I buy that but it is a reasonable claim. I haven’t heard him make it yet. Beyond that, does Cruz plan to take pot off the schedule or just stop enforcing the law? I have never seen and answer to that question and it is an important distinction.

            1. Well, if Cruz gets the nomination and sticks with pot federalism, you can bet your ass that someone is going to ask him if the same reasoning applies to heroin or cocaine.

              If he really believes that is a federalism question, it’s going to take some pretty fancy wordsmithing to explain why federalism applies to pot but not cocaine or heroin.

              But, like I said, if he’s nominated, it’s almost certain you’ll get your answer.

            2. It would be a big deal for constitutional law nerds, but it wouldn’t make much difference on the ground. No states are about to legalize or even lessen penalties on heroin or meth or cocaine (except maybe getting rid of some crazy mandatory minimums and enhanced crack penalties). So it wouldn’t significantly change the prohibition situation if federal criminal drug laws were removed.

              1. I think electing someone who’s willing to say that some thing’s aren’t the federal government’s business is a big fucking deal, even if it doesn’t affect cocaine or whatever. The concept has much broader implications.

                That said, I don’t think he can beat Clinton even if his positions are better on 98% of the issues, because he’s a mean white Hispanic guy.

                1. I think electing someone who’s willing to say that some thing’s aren’t the federal government’s business is a big fucking deal,

                  It absolutely is, if that is what Cruz means. I am just not sure that he really means that. If he means it, he will take pot off the schedule and end the federal role in its prohibition. If he doesn’t and he is just playing politics and granting us an indulgence, he won’t and will just stop fucking with the states. The second option is much less of a good thing than the first.

                2. Oh, it is a big deal to have someone make that constitutional stand. I didn’t mean to downplay it so much. My point was more that it would be a fairly safe position to take because other than weed, states aren’t about to start legalizing drugs. If anything they are getting more prohibitionist with things like opioids and speed.

              2. You are right Zeb. And I am not sure I buy that distinction or even if you could trust Cruz to believe it either. I have a bad feeling this is just politics. It would be a nice result for sure. But it would also set a terrible precedent. The right answer is to just take it off the schedule and get the feds out of it altogether and do so in a way consistent with the law and not just using the President’s discretion.

                And again, maybe that is how Cruz will do it. I just haven’t seen where he has said one way or another.

        2. None of the states want to legalize the other drugs, so Cruz needn’t make any statement about them.

          1. So what? They are still illegal under federal law. And if pot is out of reach of federal regulation because of the 10th Amendment, so are those other drugs. If pot should be left to the states, so should every other drug. The fact that all the states choose to prohibit them does not make it any more of a federal issue than it is for pot.

    2. how is marijuana federalism in any way consistent with the rule of law?

      Taking it from Schedule 1 to Schedule 5 actually helps, I think, with hands-off federalism:

      Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are:

      cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, Parepectolin

      Some of these are OTC. OTC and hands-off federalism aren’t that hard to reconcile.

      Better, of course, to deschedule pot entirely. But Schedule V gives a lot of room.

      1. To be consistent, pot should be in the same category as tobacco and alcohol, where states decide. Schedule V dictates that states must regulate pot with fines and sentencing in accordance with the CSA, regardless of consent of the governed within any particular state.

        Tobacco regulation is determined at the state level, much to the FDA’s chagrin.

        Alcohol is a very special case thanks to section 2 of the 21st amendment – states can still prohibit it if they elect to do so, as Mississippi did until 1966. Such states can even place undue burden on interstate commerce in intoxicating liquors. I am certain the hi-jinks and hilarity that ensued under Mississippi Prohibition provided ample inspiration for the plots of several Burt Reynolds movies and Dukes of Hazzard episodes.

        1. Schedule 5 (or any other federal schedule) doesn’t dictate that the states regulate or penalize anything. A state’s own schedule 5 does.

          FDA, you should recall, tried to avoid regulating tobacco several times over decades, until they got one administrator who wanted it in his purview, and even then those under him didn’t want to deal with it. Now Congress has forced it on them.

          1. Thanks for the clarification on FDA’s reluctance to regulate tobacco, I was not aware of this. Are they at all interested in regulating vapor and other smoking cessation vehicles?

            Schedule V sentencing guidelines judges in all 50 states must follow for first offense distribution: $200,000 max if defendant is an individual, $500,000 max if other than one individual; no prison sentence shall exceed 4 years. These guidelines increase with other factors like selling to someone 21 or under, within 1000 feet of a school, truck stop or any highway rest area, while in possession of armor-piercing bullets, boobytraps on federal property, establishing manufacturing, distributing to a pregnant person, commerce providing pecuniary value to terrorists, dealing with “significant” foreign narcotics traffickers… the list never ends.

  11. So what? This means I should support Cruz now? I still believe him to be just another run-of-the-mill statist.
    He says this shit to “appeal to the libertarian wing of the Republican Party”.

  12. Apparently, nobody’s told Cruz yet that the standard politician response to anything pot related is nervous laughter followed by condescension?

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  14. Cruz was “all in” for a federal executive role in denying Colorado’s right to self-govern and legalize, until last year when he realized he was contradicting his own same-sex marriage position — that states should be free to determine their own marriage laws.

    1. If he actually changed his position on MJ because he reasoned it was inconsistent with his stance on marriage I think that would make him the most intellectually honest Democrat or Republican presidential candidate in my lifetime.

  15. It would be an understatement to say that Cruz is Not a friend to the Legalization movement.

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