Written by: Debra Borchardt | Published: September 17, 2015
Marijuana And The GOP Debate
The Republican debate touched on marijuana laws during Wednesday night’s event at the Ronald Reagan library. A perfect place to discuss the “War on Drugs” since it was initiated by Nancy Reagan.
“I was happy to hear the question that over 60% of America cares about, respecting the states to do as they see fit in regards to marijuana reform. I would hope to hear from the rest of the field as this is an very important topic,” said David Dinenberg, CEO of Kind Financial, a financial solutions firm for the cannabis industry.
Presidential candidate Rand Paul’s position on marijuana is well known and for many that is enough of a reason to vote for him. Paul is a libertarian and believes strongly in states rights. He has never wavered from the position that the war on drugs was a war that put mostly minorities in jail and prison. The CNN host Jake Tapper put Paul on the spot regarding his comments about Jeb Bush having smoked pot in high school.
LAS VEGAS, NV – SEPTEMBER 17: Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks during a campaign rally at the Veterans Memorial Leisure Services Center on September 17, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Bush is campaigning in Nevada after participating in the second Republican debate yesterday in California. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
This was a common tactic during the debate, trying to pit opponents against each other. To Paul’s relief, Bush stepped up and admitted he was the one that Paul called a hypocrite for having smoked pot, but was now against it.
Bush said what goes on in Colorado is a state decision, so it sounded like he would not try to roll back those laws. However, Paul reminded Bush that he campaigned against medical marijuana in Florida. Bush insisted that he wouldn’t put people in jail for using medical marijuana, but if he campaigned against it, that is exactly what would happen. Bush said that the legislation had a huge loophole and that was why he was against it.
Then it was Chris Christie’s turn. Mr. Tapper had started the initial discussion with a quote from Christie saying he would enforce the federal laws against marijuana. Then he somehow connected marijuana to his anti-abortion stance. Christie said, “You see, Jake, I’m pro-life. And I think you need to be pro-life for more than just the time in the womb. It gets tougher when they get out of the womb. And when they’re the 16-year-old drug addict in the Florida county lockup, that life is just as precious as the life in the womb.”
He went on to call marijuana a gateway drug, which most studies have proven not to be the case. He also insisted that New Jersey has an emphasis on rehabilitation not incarceration. Christie also said he supported medical marijuana laws in New Jersey, but it is known for being one of the strictest and most difficult programs in the country. Plus, he can’t support medical marijuana and then turn around and state that he’d enforce the federal laws against marijuana which would essentially make medical marijuana criminal. Rand was right about the hypocrisy on the stage.
Sadly Carly Fiorina chimed in and mentioned that she and her husband had buried a child due to drug addiction. She wants more drug treatment.
However, the candidates confuse the issue. Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug to heroin, which is a serious problem. Prescription drugs are the gateway. However, none of the candidates is going after those pharmaceutical companies. No one will fault Ms. Fiorina for feeling passionately about the subject because that’s a horrible way to lose a child. Yet, marijuana isn’t a drug that causes overdoses.
Tapper mentioned at the beginning of the discussion on the topic that it was social media that prompted the question, however it’s more than just a social media subject. “With voters in up to 16 States with referendums in 2016, Marijuana Reform will be front and center,” said Dinenberg.
The candidates should be educated with the correct information and should take a position that is clear.