Wednesday, 02 June 2010 09:34
America’s new crop of Republicans is showing support for medical and legal marijuana. The issue touches on state’s rights, personal freedom and government interference with healthcare. Though not on the national platform, conservative politicians are using cannabis for positive political capital.
Last week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie stated that he supports his state’s new marijuana law. At the same time, he’s trying to delay implementation of the new program for a year. While the former US Attorney faces a real challenge in developing the program, NJ Sen. Nick Scutari says it’s not "rocket science." Advocates are pressing for no delay.
The Garden State’s medical marijuana law passed last year with some of the most conservative Republicans championing the bill, including state Senator Bill Baroni. Gov. Christie has since appointed 38-year-old Baroni as the powerful Commissioner of the New York- New Jersey Port Authority.
In Kentucky, Tea Party star Rand Paul won a Republican primary for a US Senate seat. The son of Rep. Ron Paul shares his father’s steadfast advocacy for the use of medical marijuana, apparently to his benefit among voters.
Fellow libertarian Republican and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is currently exploring the possibility of making a serious bid for the White House in 2012. He’s a vocal supporter of marijuana-policy reform and has appeared at pro-cannabis events. Watch Johnson debate Stephen Colbert here.
To his credit, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has largely followed California state law and allowed the spread of dispensaries. Akin to many of his on-screen characters, Schwarzenegger’s silence on the issue over the years has been telling. In November, Californians will decide whether to tax cannabis for all uses.
In many ways, Chris Christie, Rand Paul, Gary Johnson and Arnold Schwarzenegger represent a broad, mainstream spectrum of the post-Bush GOP. Free from the top-down pressure that used to come from the White House, expect to see many more Republicans follow their constituents in embracing medical and legal marijuana.
Chris Goldstein is media coordinator for Philly NORML and hosts Active Voice Radio.
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