Given the current political climate, combined with the Marijuana’s Legal Status Quo, it would be politically advantageous for the Republican Party t0 support legalizing pot. Here are several reasons why:
1-The Republican Party claims to hate Big Government (and it’s corresponding Big Deficit), so why not make cuts to the $42,000,000,000+ (that’s Forty-Two Billion Dollars) we spend every year on keeping marijuana illegal. Given that the Republican Party claims to hate government waste, it would be wise to heed the advice of The United States’ Drug Czar and 75% of Mexicans, that we’re wasting money on, and losing, the War on Drugs.
2- The Republican Party’s political strategy is to support anything that President Obama is opposed to, and vice-versa. As the Obama Administration has been openly opposed to marijuana decriminalization (both recreational and, more recently, medical) (and, in fact, wont’ even talk about it) pushing for marijuana legalization would give the Republican Party another opportunity to establish themselves in contrast to President Obama
3- Marijuana Decriminalization could be a boon to The Cigarette and Pharmaceutical Industries, two of the Republican Party’s big contributors, who could make millions off of marketing it. Tobacco companies have, for example, been prepared to capitalize on legalized marijuana since as early as 1976, and the pharmaceutical industry is evidently just itching to capitalize on legalized marijuana.
4-Given the Republican’s recent, negative legacy on civil rights (vis. issues such as abortion, access to birth control, gay marriage, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell) marijuana decriminalization could be an opportunity for the Republican Party to frame one of their civil/social policies as civil rights advocacy. After all, many people see citizens’ private, personal use of Marijuana as a civil rights issue.
5- The Republican Party likes disabling and disempowering unions, so why not go after the California Prison Guards’ union? Legalizing marijuana would be a blow to it it, which is why it has been a major lobbying force for keeping marijuana illegal (they, in fact, spent 1.8 Million Dollars to lobby against California’s Proposition 5, which would have reduced sentences for non-violent drug offenders). According to Matt Welsh, editor of Reason Magazine
“The California Prison Guards Union is one of the worst actors on the public policy stage in The United States of America… These people have been affecting public policy in a terrible way for the last twenty-five years, we’re on a prison-building spree, they oppose any sensible reform, and they have huge control over both political parties”
6- Legalizing Marijuana would take significant power away from Latin American drug cartels. As prohibition demonstrated, when you criminalize a popular vice, you empower the criminal underworld by creating a black market for it to control. People may not like the idea of the government controlling marijuana, but at least government bureaucrats, unlike drug cartel members, aren’t murderers. Thus, the Republican Party could claim responsibility for sticking it to the Drug Cartels AND being tough on crime (and, for their more xenophobic/nationalist, conservative constituents, being tough on Latin Americans).
“Prohibition didn’t work in the Garden of Eden. Adam ate the apple…We have to take all the production chain out of the hands of criminals and into the hands of producers- so there are farmers that produce marijuana and manufacturers that process it and distributors that distribute it and shops that sell it … I don’t want to say that legalizing means that drugs are good. They are not good but bad for your health, and you shouldn’t take them. But ultimately, this responsibility is with citizens.”
7- Ron Paul attracts a significant amount of young voters due to his advocacy for the legalization of marijuana. Writes Tracy Davis, a Republican strategist and former George H. W. Bush speechwriter:
No other [major party] candidate advocates the legalization of marijuana…This one issue alone has a huge impact on young voters in America today, who would be thrilled to be able to purchase and smoke marijuana without the fear of being arrested
Given the tremendous power that the youth vote has in national elections, why wouldn’t the Republican Party try to capitalize on the issues that are important to them?
So I put it to the Republican Party: you have a golden political opportunity here, given how impotent the Democratic Party has been on this issue. Given the numerous political advantages that the Republican Party could gain from putting legalizing marijuana on its platform, it seems illogical not to pick up the mantle of legalizing marijuana.