Health

Would Republican be Better than Obama for Medical Marijuana?

| by NORML

By "Radical" Russ Belville

I found this part of a recent San Francisco Chronicle article particularly contemptuous:

Nationwide, support to legalize marijuana reached a record 50 percent in a Gallup Poll last month – including 62 percent support in the 18- to 29-year-old demographic, which Obama needs to help secure his re-election.

But political analysts say it is unlikely that medical marijuana advocates can do much to dent Obama’s strong support in California.

“Who are they going to vote for, Romney?” asked Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at UCLA who is a former Justice Department analyst and prolific author on marijuana issues.

Yeah, who knows what might happen with a Republican in office instead of President Obama?  Why, DEA raids on medical cannabis, revocation of gun rights for patients, suspension of commerce and punitive taxation for medical marijuana businesses, threats to seize dispensary properties from landlords, refusal to act on scientific requests for and actively blocking research on cannabis, paving the way for cannabinoid pharmaceuticalization monopoly, and complete disdain for legalization petitions?  Really, unless the eventual GOP nominee ispromoting the death penalty for two ounces of pot, I don’t see how it can get much worse.

In fact, when it comes to marijuana-using voters and presidential candidates, Rep. Ron Paul has been a better advocate for that issue than almost any Democrat, and Gov. Gary Johnson is actively courting marijuana-using voters at hempfests and expos.  Though they lack a serious shot at the nomination according to most political observers, they do harness a lot of youthful energy and enthusiasm that once was Obama’s 2008 bread-and-butter.  Kleiman’s false “Obama or Romney” choice ignores the third option, “None of the Above”, that many marijuana supporters will be choosing.

But among the 16 other states where medical cannabis is legal are swing states such as Michigan and Colorado.

“The medical cannabis community everywhere is outraged, and I plan to be in Colorado to campaign against” Obama, said Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, the state’s largest dispensary, with 95,000 patients and 120 employees. DeAngelo was an Obama supporter and contributor in 2008.

Not just medical swing states, but also states pushing for medical, like Wisconsin, Florida, and Ohio, that will not be pleased by Mr. Obama’s recent crackdown in California.  Many of these Obama 2008 voters were buoyed by what they interpreted from campaign remarks to be his understanding of the medical cannabis issue and reticence at committing federal resources to combating it.  Now they feel betrayed.

I would not underestimate the GOP desire to recapture the White House.  I would not be surprised at an eventual GOP nominee whose political team calculates that the marijuana vote could be enough to swing a close state or two and advises a friendlier medical marijuana position than Obama’s.  (Mitt Romney is just the kind of guy to make such a 180, too.)  Paint it as a “get tough on those abusing medical marijuana” plan by institution strict guidelines and federal regs that would actually clear up the picture and end federal raids.  Play the “states rights” and “limited government” cards by crafting those regs to defer to the states on the issue.

Stranger things have happened.  A GOP tied to an increasingly older and decreasingly-majority white base will be desperate for young, minority, and affluent moderate voters.  Done correctly, they can even play “compassionate conservative” and “pro health care”.