It’s often labeled as a liberal cause, but the truth is, cannabis legalization is a cause that has been embraced by far more folks than just Bernie Sanders supporters and overzealous social justice warriors.
In fact, there are dozens of very high-profile conservatives that support the decriminalization and the legalization of cannabis. And this shouldn’t be surprising.
Conservatives – generally speaking – support a number of issues that cater to the legalization movement. These include things like states’ rights, limited government, and personal sovereignty.
Truth is, in theory, conservatives should really be the biggest advocates of legalization. And many are.
Take David Koch, for instance, who has advocated for the decriminalization of cannabis since the early 1980s. This is not a talking point you’re likely to hear from a number of left-leaning media outlets, but it’s one that’s true nonetheless.
Koch once said, “I have friends who smoke pot… It’s ridiculous to treat them as criminals.”
While I may not agree with David Koch on everything, I do agree with him when it comes to cannabis. And he’s not the only high-profile conservative backing the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis.
Check it out …
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol. I’ve never used marijuana and I don’t intend to, but it’s just one of those things that I think: this war on drugs just hasn’t succeeded.” Pat Robertson, Founder of Christian Broadcasting Network & Christian Coalition
“[I]t is our judgment that the war on drugs has failed, that it is diverting intelligent energy away from how to deal with the problem of addiction, that it is wasting our resources, and that it is encouraging civil, judicial, and penal procedures associated with police states. We all agree on movement toward legalization, even though we may differ on just how far.” National Review, Editorial Board
“Yes [marijuana should be legalized federally]. Public opinion has changed… The distinction between marijuana and alcoholic beverages is really not much of a distinction… The prohibition against selling and dispensing alcoholic beverages has I think been generally, there’s a general consensus that it was not worth the cost. And I think really in time that will be the general consensus with respect to this particular drug [marijuana].” John Paul Stevens, Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice
“[If] you want to go somewhere where you can smoke medicinal weed, then you ought to be able to do that.” Rick Perry, Secretary of Energy
“I think it’s about time we legalize marijuana… We either put people who are smoking marijuana behind bars or we legalize it, but this little game we are playing in the middle is not helping us, it is not helping Mexico and it is causing massive violence on our southern border… Fifty percent of the money going to these cartels is coming just from marijuana coming across our border.” Glenn Beck
“I find the way people trivialize this issue to be infuriating. I hold it to be self-evident that people should be allowed to grow plants in their own gardens, regardless of what kind of plants they are… I do think the prohibition on this is outrageous… What we’re living through is a farce.” Andrew Sullivan, Conservative Blogger & Author
What the authorities should do is decriminalize pot use. You wanna do it in your house, not bother anyone? Fine.” Bill O’Reilly
“Someone has got to break the logjam. The fact is that you have the incarceration rate, particularly in African American communities for drug related crimes is off the charts… The old mindset that doesn’t address the current environment, that doesn’t deal with realities of our penal system or our sentencing system… A lot of folks are getting caught in the cross-hairs… We’ve got to reorient our priorities here when it comes to the issue of drugs in our culture.” Michael Steele, Former Chairman of Republican National Committee
We need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts, and if somebody’s gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else any harm, then perhaps there are other things that our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems that we have in society that are appropriate for law enforcement to do.” Sarah Palin, Former Governor of Alaska & Republican Vice-Presidential Nominee
Ask the Facebook generation whether we should put a kid in jail for the nonviolent crime of drug use and you’ll hear a resounding ‘no.’” Rand Paul, U.S. Senator
Governments claim to write endless laws to protect us, a law for this, a law for that, but are they working? I don’t think so. The consequences are that there is a staggering loss of freedom for the individual. I look at the drug wars and they are absolutely fucking ridiculous. There is a black market and the prisons are overcrowded and it’s not preventing drug use. There’s a corruption that goes all the way to the top.” Vince Vaughn
I’m in favor of the legalization of marijuana.” Peter Thiel, Co-Founder & Former CEO of PayPal
I believe it is the right of states to decide [medical marijuana]…” Jeb Bush, ,Former Governor of Florida
[T]he federal war on drugs is a total failure… The federal government’s going in there and overriding state laws… Why don’t we handle the drugs like we handle alcohol? … I fear the drug war because it undermines our civil liberties. It magnifies our problems on the borders. We’ve spent over the last 40 years a trillion dollars on this war and — believe me — the kids can still get the drugs. It just hasn’t worked.” Former Congressman, Ron Paul
The violence associated with the black markets created by Prohibition of marijuana provides political cover and motivation to those seeking to permanently curtail our 2nd Amendment rights in the name of law and order. Gun owners should understand that much of the impulse to over-regulate and ban firearms would evaporate overnight–along with much of the crime–by joining forces with the anti-Prohibition forces to take away the lucrative black market for both drugs and guns by legalizing marijuana.” Richard Feldman, President of Independent Firearm Owners Association & Former National Rifle Association Lobbyist
“[T]he failed prohibition of marijuana has exhausted countless billions of dollars spent on ineffective or incomplete enforcement and has resulted in unnecessarily dangerous and expensive congestion in our judicial system… [T]he legal status quo for the criminal regulation of marijuana continues to endanger Idahoans by generating significant resources for gang-related violent activity and weapons smuggling — a reality which could be very easily confronted by the legalization and legitimization of Idaho’s marijuana industry… [T]he state government should legalize marijuana and ensure the regulation and taxation of its production, distribution and use while enacting strict penalties for illegal trafficking, illegal importation and exportation, and impaired driving.” Blaine County Republican Party, Idaho
I think all of us have either gone through cancer or family members, and it’s a terribly painful disease. I think you have a lot of sympathy. There’s a lot of public sympathy for medical marijuana use.” Laura Ingraham, Syndicated Radio Host & Author
All] of this increase [in teen marijuana use] has occurred under prohibition. The reason why is dealers don’t ask for IDs. However, licensed operators and regulators do… In America it’s easier to score illegal pot than legal booze simply because it’s regulated. You could also regulate the strength, the power of the pot. It’s easier now for kids to get high because it’s banned. Once it’s legal…you will lose your license if you give pot to a kid.” Greg Gutfeld, Fox News Channel Host
Well I think it is time to do this, because prohibition has been an abysmal failure. The government spends over fifty billion…a year prosecuting people for small amounts of the use of controlled dangerous substances in their home. As a former judge…I can tell you how frustrating it is to have to enforce a law that you know is fruitless, to have to lock up someone who doesn’t belong in jail, who didn’t cause harm to anyone… I believe that an individual should be able to make a choice for himself or herself, as long as that choice doesn’t hurt anybody else.” Andrew Napolitano, Former New Jersey Superior Court Judge & Fox News Analyst
No, you shouldn’t be arrested for recreational drug use.” Newt Gingrich, Former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives
There are approximately 700,000 marijuana-related arrests made very year. Most of these — 87 percent — involve nothing more than mere possession of small amounts of marijuana. This exercise in scrupulosity costs us $10-15 billion per year in direct expenditures alone… Today we have illegal marijuana for whoever wants it. An estimated 100 million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once… [I]t is easier for an 18-year old to get marijuana…than to get beer. Vendors who sell beer to minors can forfeit their valuable licenses.” William F. Buckley, Founder of National Review, TV Host, Author & Columnist
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Understand, I’m not here to praise the conservative movement, just as I’m not here to praise the progressive movement. The only movement that concerns me is the liberty movement. And either side of the aisle can join.
Truth is, the issue of cannabis legalization is actually one of the few on which conservatives and liberals should be able to join forces. We just need to stop the vitriol and name-calling long enough to listen to the other side in an effort to find some common ground.
If we can do that, we can end the war on drugs. And that, dear reader, is a righteous and honorable endeavor.