Yet in polls, Republicans and conservatives do tend to favor penalties for the plant's growth and use more often than Democrats and liberals.
It shouldn't be that way. Aren't Democrats supposed to be the party of Big Government, Nanny-State-ism, the Food Police, etc.?
Conservatives, meanwhile, should find marijuana prohibition distasteful in general. Here are our Top Eight reasons why:
8. Left-wingers don't yell as loudly about the concept of "states' rights." Yet too many righties are hypocrites on this subject, preferring a federal solution for many of their pet ideas, including bans on medical marijuana, gay marriage, abortion, and even burning a flag.
7. The Republican Party is desperate to get more black and Hispanic votes, and quitting the pot-enforcement habit is one way to do that. Statistics show that marijuana prohibition hurts minorities more than whites. The Denver Police Department's own data shows that African-Americans account for nearly a third of adult marijuana-possession cases, yet are only 11 percent of the population. That's why the NAACP and two national black and Hispanic police officer associations support the Colorado legalization initiative, Amendment 64.
6. If conservatives can support herbal supplements, why not herb? Veteran U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah spearheaded 1994 legislation that allowed dietary-supplement firms to make health claims about products that weren't approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Hatch is also the same right-winger who wrote the introduction to an infamous 1998 anti-pot pamphlet that identified users as people with an "excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc." He'd rather people were addicted to $35-per-bottle XanGo juice. Ironic, considering that the main difference between marijuana and other herbal supplements is that pot is the more versatile and effective medicine.
5. Conservatives were more heavily in favor of alcohol prohibition than liberals in the early 20th century, perhaps for some of the same reasons they don't like pot. Booze prohibition failed miserably. Therefore, conservatives shouldn't want to repeat their previously erroneous viewpoint on prohibition.
4. Conservatives portray themselves as the true guardians of freedom in America. Many on the right support legalization for that reason alone. As for the rest, it seems they do mental gymnastics to justify prohibition. They should relax and cave in to their professed beliefs.
3. Conservatives are supposed to be pro-business, but in Arizona, they're allowing police to arrest, jail and prosecute otherwise law-abiding citizens for providing services to medical-marijuana patients. This month, police in northern Arizona announced with glee that they'd busted a "drug syndicate" that sold cannabis-infused "Zonka Bars" to medical-marijuana patients. If he'd been selling a new kind of wine cooler, or meeting a goal to sell more than a million guns a year to benefit the National Rifle Association's lobbying arm, the Zonka suspect might have gotten a small-business award. Instead, he's facing years in prison.
2. Conservatives are staunch law-and-order advocates. They should be outraged when police ignore a voter-approved law. Governor Jan Brewer is the chief offender on this one, having unilaterally quashed the dispensary portion of the 2010 law. In theory, the state should dispensaries soon following Brewer's courtroom losses.
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And our top reason:
1. Do Republicans and conservatives manage money better? They sure say so. But no drug policy would be more fiscally responsible than the legalization of marijuana. Top economists say it would save about $14 billion through a lack of enforcement and potential tax on a legal product. In Colorado, which is poised to pass a legalization law, millions in public funds would be saved practically overnight. A similar initiative in Washington could bring in a half-billion in new taxes. All right-wingers should champion these causes.