This TV interview with Paul Ryan is rather astounding:
Q: In Colorado we have medical marijuana. Under a Romney Ryan ticket, what happens?
A (Paul Ryan): It’s up to Coloradans to decide.
Q: So even if federal law says marijuana is illegal, you’re saying?
A: My personal positions on this issue have been let the states decide what to do with these things. This is something that is not a high priority of ours as to whether or not we go down the road on this issue. What I’ve always believed is the states should decide. I personally don’t agree with it, but this is something Coloradans have to decide for themselves.
Of course, Ryan’s claim that he’s “always believed” in state’s rights isn’t matched by his legislative record, and of course Ryan promptly backtracked. But that’s just par for the course for a GOP ticket which seems to think it’s in a game of charades, acting out “quantum superposition.”
The news here is that the popularity of medical marijuana has now started to penetrate even to very conservative Republicans. (Of course, mostly in what Adlai Stevenson called “the liberal hour” that runs from Labor Day to the first week in November in leap years, in which even Republicans have to at least pretend to pay attention to what actual voters want.
My own view is that, in most states including Colorado, “medical” marijuana is mostly a racket, with most “patients” having no disease (except, possibly, cannabis dependency). I’d rather (1) have someone do the medical research to make some form of cannabis a prescription pharmaceutical and (2) design a controlled system of legal availability of cannabis for non-medical use. (Yes, it’s all in the book.)
But regardless of the merits, Ryan’s stance on medical pot is as strong a sign of change as Romney’s stance on pre-existing conditions. Mindless devotion to the War on Drugs is no longer a winner at the ballot box. Right-wing politicians aren’t getting any less stupid, but they seem to be getting (at least temporarily) less stubborn.