MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

Sarah Palin Says Legal Pot Is 'Absolutely No Big Deal'

The former Alaska governor and GOP vice presidential nominee attributes marijuana legalization in her state to "that libertarian streak in us."

WikipediaWikipediaYesterday former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the GOP's vice presidential nominee in 2008, horrified conservative talk radio host Hugh Hewitt by saying marijuana legalization is "no big deal." Hewitt asked Palin about the legalization measure that voters in her state approved last November, saying, "What happened in Alaska? What are you people thinking there?" She replied:

We've got that libertarian streak in us, and I grew up in Alaska when pot was legal anyway. It was absolutely no big deal. I mean, you didn't smoke it because your parents would strangle you. And if you were a jock and you were, you know, a Christian going to youth group, you just didn't do it, right? I still believe that. But when it comes to picking our battles, for many of us in Alaska, legalization of marijuana just was never really a bright blip on the radar screen, so it didn't surprise me when the voters of Alaska went back to legalizing it. For some years there, it had not been legalized.... 

I look on the national scene and think, "Wow, of all things to be fighting over and battling over." Especially when it comes to medical marijuana, I think, "Hmm. It's just not my baby."

When Palin says, "I grew up in Alaska when pot was legal," she is referring to decriminalization of personal possession, as opposed to full legalization. In the 1975 case Ravin v. State, the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that the privacy right protected by the state constitution includes the freedom to possess and consume small amounts of marijuana at home. At that point (five years before Palin turned 16) the state legislature already had voted to decriminalize possession of an ounce or less, making that offense punishable by a fine of up to $100. After Ravin, the legislature eliminated the fine.

In 1990, when Palin was in her 20s, Alaska voters approved an initiative aimed at recriminalizing marijuana possession. The legislature later made possession of up to four ounces a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. The ACLU of Alaska challenged recriminalization, arguing that neither voters nor legislators could override the state constitution. In 2009 the Alaska Supreme Court declined to rule on the ACLU's challenge, saying it needed an actual prosecution first.

While private possession of marijuana was legal in Alaska when Palin was a teenager, production and distribution never were. Hence it's rather misleading to suggest that Measure 2, the 2014 initiative, merely returned marijuana to its pre-1990 legal status. Measure 2 did quite a bit more than that, legalizing home cultivation along with commercial production and sales.

This is not the first time that Palin, who has admitted smoking pot in her youth, has suggested that cannabis consumers should not be treated as criminals. "If somebody's gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else any harm," she said in 2010, "then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at." But at the time she also said she opposed legalization because it would "encourage especially our young people to think that it was OK to just go ahead and use it."

[via The Huffington Post]

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • __Warren__||

    Why would cops want to look the other way when pot busts are easy and profitable?

  • SoCal Deathmarch||

    And a free pass to search anyone or anything.

  • Zeb||

    Small time busts really aren't usually very profitable. Plus the paperwork sucks.

  • Aresen||

    Unless you are looking for a kid you can use as a catspaw to send in to spy on a biker gang.

  • __Warren__||

    Catspaw....good word choice. Don't see that used often.

  • sarcasmic||

    Marijuana is the gateway to the black market. Cops use pot dealers to find dealers in harder drugs so they can bust them. Without that gateway cops would have a difficult time busting people who deal in hard drugs. Ironically though, shutting that door to the cops would also shut that door to users, making it more difficult for them to find their fix. Want to curb the use of hard drugs? Make pot legal.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I like Ms. Palin much more than the character she plays on television.

  • B.P.||

    I like listening to Hugh Hewitt in the car because he's affable and is great at interviewing folks from both sides of the aisle, but my God does he go in for some old, worn out conservative hobby horses.

  • Rhywun||

    "What are you people thinking there?"

    I wasn't aware he was such a square.

  • Harun||

    I'm just going to put this out there:

    I believe Hugh Hewitt likes Game of Thrones so much because its a justification to see some nude women.

    Its his porn.

    There I said it.

  • Jima||

    Hugh Hewitt was at the time trying to get Palin to cheer lead as he decried the horrors of legalization that have since descended on Colorado. "What horrors" you may ask? I wondered myself the last time I visited Colorado. Contrary to popular legend, there was no anarchy in the streets. I even visited a legal vendor to see the wares. All I got were incredulous grins from other customers that we were actually able to stand there without watching out for "the MAN". Big grins all around. High prices too. I'll bet the subterranean market yet thrives. Eventually the grey beards who fear pot will die off. Until then, I just marvel at their theatrics. Sure, Palin's not a genius, but she's got some measure of respect for individual liberty.

  • B.P.||

    I live in Denver. It's somewhat more aromatic in certain parts of town these days. And there seem to be more 20-somethings from faraway places panhandling (I guess they were too dense to source weed where they came from). That's about it.

  • Aresen||

    "It's somewhat more aromatic in certain parts of town these days."

    Stockyards are busy?

  • ||

    I'm looking forward to some very, very mellow apres ski in February.

  • Jima||

    Yes, you can easily acquire the goods to promote mellowness. Be prepared for somewhat shocking prices, but the quality is a+... or so I've heard.

  • Microaggressor||

    But at the time she also said she opposed legalization because it would "encourage especially our young people to think that it was OK to just go ahead and use it."

    Just think of what message we'd be sending our chillunz, if they were FORCED to grow up in a world where they didn't have to fear a flashbang grenade melting their still-forming face any moment they dared sleep in a crib.

  • F. Iron-Ass Stupidity, Jr.||

    "I can smoke ganja from my house!"

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Chill, baby, chill.

  • R C Dean||

    Nice.

  • Aloysious||

    Does this make her better than Hillary?

  • SimonJester||

    I have very little love for former Gov. Palin. However, her stance on weed is only one entry on a very very long list of why she is better than Hillary. Of course, the crap I stepped in yesterday is better than Hillary, too, so I am not talking about high standards, here.

  • Aloysious||

    Heh. Agreed.

  • Inigo Montoya, Micro-Aggressor||

    News flash: ANYBODY is better than Hillary! I mean, even Bernie and Trump are better than Hillary, or at least less ethically-challenged. Christie would probably be roughly her equal, though he might edge her out if he faced her in a debate and yelled, "Get in mah belly!" in an imitation of Mike Myers' character Fat Bastard from the Austin Powers movies. (He looks like a non-ginger version of that character, so he might as well capitalize on that.)

  • Aloysious||

    Being a big fan of Austin Powers, I approve this comment.

  • Thomas O.||

    Okay, I'm gonna stop calling her a quitter now. I just gained a little more respect for Sarah.

    Now if only more of her followers had her mindset...

  • ||

    Ok, but where does she stand on Mexicans and butt-sex?

  • ||

    She has 1/3 of my holy grail.

  • Brian||

    Thank god we know what Palin thinks.

    Too bad she's not a millennial.

  • gaoxiaen||

    She has a bifocal telescope.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online