The times, they are a-changing

Paul Ryan is (was?) for states’ rights when it comes to medical marijuana.

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.



Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

18 thoughts on “The times, they are a-changing”

  1. The news here is that the popularity of medical marijuana has now started to penetrate even to very conservative Republicans.

    Pat Robertson has endorsed legalization of marjuana generally, not just medical marijuana. I don’t think that one gets much more conservative.

  2. “game of charades, acting out ‘quantum superposition.'”

    Mark has been on fire recently. Obama could use another good speechwriter.

  3. The suggestion that the GOP ticket is practicing quantum politics is inspired; to the (supposed) moral relativism of the left they respond with quantum morality. I suspect that there is something Straussian about this.

  4. I have known several folks who have used legitimate medical MJ in CA, with notes from real doctors.
    However, they were folks who were already predisposed to MJ use, so no ‘angels’.

    (and I’ll call foul on the “cannabis dependency” bit – that snark is not required for your argument, and just kicks dust in the air.)

    1. Mobius, that’s not snark. Cannabis dependency is a real issue, and some dispensary clients are just maintaining. And I don’t think there’s anything especially non-angelic about people who use cannabis non-medically.

      Of course there are real patients with real conditions whose real doctors think cannabis can help. Sometimes those real doctors are even right. But that seems to be a few percent of the customers; most have recommendations from the sort of pot docs who advertise that if they don’t write you a recommendation your visit is free.

      1. Actually, NOBODY in California has a recommendation from their “real” doctor, because primary care physicians who belong to group practices and accept medical insurance aren’t willing to risk their reputation by joining the registry of doctors who are allowed to recommend pot. And very few people want their regular doctor to write in their medical record that they use pot. So the only way you CAN get a recommendation is from Dr. Wakenbake and his assistant, Tokin’, who operate out of a storefront in Oakland Koreatown.

  5. I wouldn’t give any particular meaning to this utterance. Ryan is loose-lipped and a loose cannon; he and his running mate will say damn near anything that occurs to them.

  6. A whole lot of people who’ve done physical labor for 20 or 30 years have enough in the way of aches and pains to justify an MJ card under our former regime here (before the wingnuts gutted it in the 2011 leg: we’ll be voting on that in November). I’m not saying taking a couple of Advil every day wouldn’t have done a lot of them just as well, but really, what’s the purpose of having culture warriors choose between painkillers for everyone?

    Everyone I know knows someone who did better with MJ than with prescription painkillers. Why should I care if some free riders are using MJ to replace gin instead of oxy?

  7. anyone with liver damage should use MM rather than any painkiller over the counter or prescription. Advil every day for decades? on top of liver damage? Pot is better for them.
    My friends say that an MM card is an insurance policy against damages by their own government.

  8. People can and do benefit from marijuana use, though not always in ways one would describe as strictly “medical”, similarly to how people can benefit from caffeine use. Dependency? A lot more people have caffeine dependencies, and you don’t hear a lot of fretting over that, even though caffeine can and does occasionally kill and marijuana does not. Racket? The elephant in that room is prohibition — one of the biggest rackets the world has known.

  9. You want to set up another federally subsidised industrial pharmaceutical for us? That sounds terrific!

    Because that’s so successful a path to getting good regulation and safety for citizens from the black market and all that it engenders.

  10. Marinol or THC is a FDA approved drug use for use during chemotherapy or AIDS, indicating that even the government understands the benefits of marijuana for increasing appetite.

    1. the greatest problem with marinol is that it consists solely of a compound that metabolizes into thc without any cbd. this is unfortunate because the presence of cbd seems to reduce the tendency of thc to cause anxiety or panic. this is one of the main reasons that the 2 people i have known personally who were taking marinol (both taking it for appetite stimulation, one for aids treatment and the other for chemotherapy)chose to drop marinol and resume smoking marijuana instead.

Comments are closed.