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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Medical Marijuana Reforms Gaining Ground With Dems

Presidential candidates, including Democrats, have historically been a little gun-shy when it comes to supporting liberalization of archaic drug laws. That may soon change, thanks to Governor Bill Richardson, who just signed into law a bill making New Mexico the 12th state to protect patients using medical marijuana from arrest. The other states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Asked by the Associated Press about the political risk involved, Richardson replied “So what if it’s risky? It’s the right thing to do…This is for medicinal purpose, for … people that are suffering. My God, let’s be reasonable.”
It’s not likely that Richardson’s presidential campaign will suffer as a result. Opinion polls taken in the 21st century indicate that between 70 and 80 percent of the public supports protecting medical marijuana users from arrest. Indeed, the interesting question is whether Richardson may win votes as a result. Federal government statistics indicate that 80 million Americans admit they have smoked marijuana, 20 million during the last year.
Yet more than 5 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana offenses during the last decade, 90 percent for simple possession. About 700,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related offenses during the last year. As former President Jimmy Carter has said “Penalties against drug use should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself. Nowhere is this more clear than in the laws against the possession of marijuana in private for personal use.” In singing the legislation, Richardson may have enhanced his image as a practical problem-solver. Democratic Presidential candidates John Edwards and Dennis Kucinich have said they oppose arresting and jailing patients who use medical marijuana, as did former Democratic Presidential nominee John Kerry. Kucinich supports decriminalization of marijuana smoking. Senators Obama and Clinton have no information about their positions on medical marijuana on their web pages. Former President Clinton came out in favor of decriminalization of marijuana possession in 2000, softening his previous hard line position against medical marijuana.

4 comments on “Medical Marijuana Reforms Gaining Ground With Dems

  1. Stephen Betzen on

    Edwards said in 2004 that he would keep arresting sick people in states that allow medical marijuana. He has yet to take a position this round. I can’t vote for those that I love to suffer… otherwise Edwards would be my choice.
    Richardson would make a great president, Edwards could learn something about compassion while serving under him.

  2. Christopher S. Brudy on

    Edwards for Prez and Richardson for Veep. In my smoke-fogged dreams. Carter is right: first, do no harm. Jail for a joint? No thanks, it costs too much. We could use the money saved to pay for things like, say, hand counted paper ballots, maybe.
    But if we don’t make it clear that hand counted paper ballots are the only way to preserve our true democratic rule, or if we are too lazy to count even our own votes, then perhaps we don’t deserve to have our votes included in the count.
    The usurpers will repeat with their DREs, and marijauna will remain out of legal reach for the millions of people who could relieve their suffering through the use of some legal pot.
    It doesn’t have anything to do with the pot itself or whether anyone gets physical or mental relief through its use. It has to do with the thousands of jobs that are created in the useless, nay harmful, prohibition of the drug.
    Lots of people make lots of money simply because marijauna is illegal. That’s what it boils down to.

  3. Dr./Professor Neil Garland on

    It is about time a national politician has taken the side of the hurting public. Kudos to Governor Richardson for telling it like it is. People have been suffering needlessly for years and medicalizing marijuana is the educated, civilized, ands proper thing to do. JUST LOOK AT THE ETHNOBOTANICAL HISTORY. Txtracts and tinctures of cannibis have been used as immuno-stimulants and as a wide spectrum antiobiotic used in treating gonorrhea.

  4. Morris Sheppard on

    Good for Richardson. This is both a problem that needs to be addressed and a political winner. It’s long past time that we re-assess our harsh and unproductive drug laws. Gov. Richardson has helped both himself and millions of suffering Americans. I look forward to seeing him rise in the polls once people realize that Hillary is not what the people or the country needs or wants and Obama is just too unformed as yet.


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