Taking Back The Joint

Betsy Woodruff thinks that the Republicans could use pot as a wedge issue against the Democrats:

For the GOP, this is more than just an opening; it’s a magical messaging moment, which, to paraphrase Rahm Emanuel, conservatives shouldn’t let go to waste. “This is a classic example of where they can walk the walk,” says Tim Lynch of the Cato Institute. This isn’t really a drug-legalization issue; it’s a states’ rights issue and a limited-powers issue. All conservatives have to agree on is that the federal government might have better things to do with its freshly printed money than try to enforce a nigh-unenforceable law that local voters and leaders think was a bad idea in the first place.

That’s how Clarence Thomas sees it, too. In his dissenting opinion in Gonzales v. Raich — a case that decided that California couldn’t allow home-grown medical marijuana — Thomas wrote that “local cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not ‘Commerce . . . among the several States.’” And, therefore, it’s not in the purview of the Feds. “Our federalist system,” he continued, “properly understood, allows California and a growing number of other States to decide for themselves how to safeguard the health and welfare of their citizens.”

Just sub “Washington and Colorado” for “California,” and you have a constitutionally sound, politically popular, stupidly simple criticism of the White House. If the GOP is going to be competitive in 2016, it has to communicate to young people that intrusive federal government makes their lives worse. It has to communicate that it’s the party that respects personal choice and individual responsibility. And it would probably help to communicate that when in doubt, the GOP doesn’t automatically take the side of the insanely expensive branch of the federal government that breaks into people’s homes, shoots their dogs, and imprisons them because they added a funny ingredient to their brownies.

But expect the Stupid Party to continue to be so.

14 thoughts on “Taking Back The Joint

  1. Chris L

    No less authority than Bill Maher jokingly suggested as much (with a lot less understanding of the Constitutional issues of course) on a recent show. I voted for Amendment 64 knowing that the Feds would not allow any large scale (overt) trade in marijuana. I figured though, that it would at least the local yokels from hassling college kids who might be passing the bong around.

  2. Leland

    Considering Arizona vs the United States, it would seem unconstitutional for Washington and Colorado to enforce federal laws related to Commerce. Wouldn’t want to burden the federal government, right?

  3. Der Schtumpy

    I just finished watching “a/k/a Tommy Chong”.

    It’s about Chong’s fight with the DOJ over Chong’s son’s company selling a bong to a shop in PA, and his jail time and release, for shippin the bong(s to PA. It’s a very interesting thing to watch, whether you are pro-pot or not, it’s an eye opener to see just how far the government will go to make a point, to turn someone into a poster boy and scapegoat for “X” action.

  4. McGehee

    I still think the focus on medical marijuana is a longterm loser for decriminalization proponents, however inviting politically it might be in the short term; the feds do currently have, at least in practice, the power to regulate medicines.

    All the feds would have to do to defuse the state vs. federal issue would be to have the FDA pass judgment on marijuana for medical purposes and write regulations on how the active ingredients can be administered. You can bet that buying raw weed and smoking it in the privacy of one’s own home wouldn’t be an option.

  5. ken anthony

    Thomas wrote that “local cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not ‘Commerce . . . among the several States.’”

    What heresy!

    Thinking like that could have the unfortunate consequence of limiting the federal governments unlimited power. Well, they’d still have the unlimited power to tax, but still. Doesn’t that guy have any idea of what he’s suggesting?

  6. RS

    There is a winning place for libertarianism, sadly, too many in the Republican party support state-enforced morality.

    Ron Paul had it right.

    1. Bob-1

      My ideal: GOP political leaders start using drugs in public, thus enabling legalization while simultaneously convincing young people that drug use is completely uncool.

      1. McGehee

        …convincing young people that drug use is completely uncool.

        Hipness and coolness are the ultimate in movable goalposts. It’s why we conservatives flee the “hip” label like vampires from crucifixes.

    1. Daver

      Eastern WA could petition to be absorbed into ID. Not sure if Spokane would go along with it, though. If it were more convenient to redraw state boundaries (maybe 3/5 majority by the counties petitioning to move, 50% majority by the state they’re moving to, no say at all by the state they’re moving from) the politicians in the state might be more interested in trying to actually represent the entire state.

      If contiguity weren’t required, Texas might find itself getting a lot bigger.

  7. cthulhu

    I think I suggested this in the “what should Republicans do” thread from a week or so ago…what a perfect opportunity for the Repubs to lead for a change! Of course they won’t do it…

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