The Corner

Marijuana and the Presidential Primaries

Senator Rand Paul recently took a shot at Jeb Bush for opposing medical marijuana even though he smoked pot as a kid. Katherine Timpf takes Paul’s side of the argument on NRO today.

NR has long advocated the legalization of marijuana, and I agree with its position. So I’m inclined to side with Paul too. But I’m left with two questions.

First, since Paul isn’t for legalization and also smoked pot, isn’t he nearly as much of a hypocrite as he portrays others? (And if you attack hypocrisy while being a hypocrite, is that hypocrisy squared?) Paul favors legalizing industrial hemp and wants to give federal judges flexibility on sentencing; neither policy would prevent people from being sent to jail for marijuana-related crimes.

Second, Timpf writes that “the ballot measure Jeb opposed wasn’t proposing full decriminalization, but simply allowing sick Floridians to use marijuana as medication if they and their doctors decided that was best for them.” It merely created “more options for dealing with health issues.” Is this perhaps naive? Again, I’m all for legalization. I just wonder whether any state with legal medical marijuana has been at all strict about enforcing the “medical” part of its law. 

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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