Marijuana Activists Attract Some Conservatives with Arguments About States’ Rights

Proponents of marijuana legalization measures in Oregon, Washington and Colorado have attracted some conservative backers with arguments about states’ rights and a mistrust of federal government, the Associated Press reports.

Prominent conservatives supporting the legalization measures include several former presidential candidates, Ron Paul and Tom Tancredo, and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico.

Most Republicans oppose the state measures, the AP notes. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has said he will enforce federal law. In September, vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said medical marijuana was “up to Coloradans to decide,” but his campaign later said he agreed with Romney.

Republican supporters of the marijuana initiatives say states, not the federal government, should dictate drug law. “What is the law against marijuana if it isn’t the Nanny State telling you what you can do and what you can’t do to your body and with your body?” said Tancredo, a former Republican Colorado congressman who briefly ran for president in 2008. In a radio ad launched this week, Tancredo compares marijuana prohibition to alcohol prohibition as a “failed government program.” He said it “steers Colorado money to criminals in Mexico.”

He added, “Proponents of big government have duped us into supporting a similar prohibition of marijuana — even though it can be used safely and responsibly by adults.”

In Washington state, Michael Baumgartner, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate, says the state’s marijuana initiative is “taking a different approach to a very expensive drug war, and potentially a better approach.”

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has said if he is elected, he will pardon all non-violent prisoners convicted of marijuana-related offenses in federal court.

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