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Conservative Thinkers and Marijuana Policy Reform

“There is no logical basis for the prohibition of marijuana”

- Milton Friedman
“The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem,
depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well-intentioned conservatives and countless frightened parents.”
- William F. Buckley, Jr.
“I happen to believe that the Federal Government shouldn’t be locking up anyone for making a decision of
what he or she should privately consume, whether that person is rich or poor, and we should never be
giving people the excuse, especially Federal authorities, that they have a right to stop people
or intrude into their lives in order to prevent them [from doing so].”
- Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R - California)

Today, most Americans agree with the late conservative Since 2012, voters in eight states — Colorado, Washington,
icons Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley, Jr. that mar- Oregon, Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, California, and
ijuana prohibition should be brought to an end. According Nevada overwhelmingly chose to replace their states’ pro-
to an October 2017 Gallup Poll, 64% of the public supports hibition of marijuana with legal and regulated adult mar-
making marijuana legal, with support among Republicans kets, similar to those for alcohol. Today many conservative
more than doubling over the past decade to 51%. When it leaders, like Congressman Rohrabacher, have picked up the
comes to states’ rights, however, 57% of Republicans think torch from Messrs. Buckley and Friedman and are helping
the federal government should not enforce its laws prohibit- to lead America in a more sensible direction on marijuana
ing marijuana in states where it is legal, according to Pew policy.
Research Center in 2013 — and 67% of Republicans believe
the enforcement of federal marijuana prohibition is not
worth the cost.

Marijuana Prohibition Has Failed, With Serious Negative Consequences for Society
Vermont Senate Republican Leader 
Joe Editorial Board of the National Review — “[D]rug
Benning — “Despite seven decades
 of prohibition has not produced the desired results; . . . it
prohibition in the so-called War On creates enormously powerful economic incentives for
Drugs, a sizable number of Vermonters use domestic trafficking operations and allied cartels abroad;
marijuana. We kid ourselves if we believe … the human and financial costs of fighting a ‘war’ on
prohibition will eventually win the battle. drugs are enormous, and .. the martial rhetoric and
assumptions associated with that effort are a menace to
I’d argue it is time to change our approach.” photo credit:
Vermont Press Bureau privacy and civil liberties …”

The Federal Government Should Respect States’ Rights to Enact Sensible Policies
Grover Norquist, founder and president Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) —
of Americans for Tax Reform — “[A]s a “Since the campaign, President Trump
matter of States’ rights, regulating mari- has consistently supported states’ rights to
juana and alcohol seem indistinguishable; decide for themselves how best to approach
and, alcohol policy has been entrusted to marijuana… President Trump has assured
the States since the repeal of Prohibition in me that he will support a federalism-based
1933.” photo credit: legislative solution to fix this states’ rights photo credit:
Washington Times issue once and for all.” United States Congress


Marijuana Policy Project •

Conservative Thinkers and Marijuana Policy Reform

The Federal Government Should Respect States’ Rights to Enact Sensible Policies … continued

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) — “Look, I actually think this is a great embodiment of what
Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy.’ If the citizens of
Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t
agree with it, but that’s their right.”

photo credit: The Hill

Criminalizing marijuana distracts law enforcement and erodes civil liberties

Walter Olson, CATO Institute — “[The Roger Stone, political operative — “There
legalization debate is] one that raises ques- are so many other ways that law enforce-
tions of individual liberty and the proper ment can be put to good use rather than to
role of law: What business is it of the persecute harmless farmers and shopkeep-
government what citizens do behind closed ers who are abiding by state law [regulating
doors? And in a state with no shortage of marijuana].”
serious crime, is this what we want police photo credit: photo credit: Lizzie Ochoa
Cato Institute
working on? Whatever your answers to these
questions, it’s hard to claim the current approach
is working.”

Marijuana Prohibition Fails to Recognize That Marijuana is Less Harmful Than Alcohol and Other
Schedule I Drugs
Former Congressman Tom Tancredo Congressman Matt Gaetz (R - Florida)
(R- Colorado) — “I am endorsing Amend- — “To classify marijuana with heroin and
ment 64 not despite my conservative beliefs, LSD continues a generational sequence
but because of them. Our nation is spend- of lying by the federal government to the
ing tens of billions of dollars annually in American people. And those lies have led
an attempt to prohibit adults from using to overly punitive criminal penalties. Our
a substance objectively less harmful than photo credit:
policies on marijuana for the last genera- photo credit:
alcohol.” United States Congress tion have done irreparable harm.” Florida House of

Marijuana Prohibition is Fiscally Irresponsible and Bad for the U.S. Economy
Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin Cato Institute — “[Our] report concludes that … [a]bout
— “[T]he legalized marijuana entrepre- $8.7 billion of … savings would result from legalization of
neurs here in my adopted home state are marijuana … Legalization [of marijuana] would also gener-
just like any other entrepreneurs: secur- ate tax revenue of … [a]bout $8.7 billion.”
ing capital, paying taxes, complying with
a thicket of regulations, taking risks and
providing goods and services that ordinary photo credit:
David All
people want and need.”

Marijuana Policy Project •