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Paul Ryan's View on Amendment 64-- A Sign of Social Progression in the Republican Party or Simply Pandering?
With November creeping up on us, political issues are being inflamed, discussed, and supported, one of the main issues being the War on Drugs and the legalization of marijuana. You may have heard of the recent proposition in Colorado for Amendment 64, which would allow marijuana to become legal and regulated like alcohol. Of course, Colorado has always been the forerunner in cannabis liberation, but this is a huge step forward in not only the medical marijuana cause, but also recreational use. In recent voter polls the horizon looks bright for Amendment 64 as 47% of voters support it and 38% oppose it. Unless the undecided vote comes out as almost entirely opposed, there is a very strong chance that Amendment 64 will pass this November.
What does this mean for candidates?
As election day closes candidates are now forced to stand up and pick where they stand on the legalization of marijuana. Although Obama has almost tricked voters into believing he is progressively minded on the subject of marijuana, he has within his presidency, federally raided several dispensaries. Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee has stated a very clear opposition for the legalization of marijuana. He has not stated his stance on its medicinal uses, but has said that marijuana will "never be legalized" if he is elected president.
On the other hand, Romney's running mate, Paul Ryan, has a slightly different view. Recently Ryan had been interviewed by a local Colorado news station, they asked him his view on Amendment 64 and the legalization of marijuana. His resonse was this:
"My personal position on these issues has been let the states decide what they want to do with these thingsThis is something that is not a high priority of ours."
This view that states should be the ones deciding, although it is regarding the subject of the legalization of cannabis, is actually a very Republican idea. Republicans have historically been in favor of a small federal government with most governing power being given to the individual states. However, this Republican view has become a bit outdated when it comes to presidential candidates as both parties pass big government legislature nowadays. A party that has adopted and stuck with the idea of states holding power is the Libertarian party, who hold fiscally conservative and socially liberal views.
The real question at hand is: is Ryan's statement a sign that the Republican party is adopting to the ways of the future, or simply a ploy to draw younger voters? Now, Paul Ryan is kind of a young guy, he's definitely a fresh face on the GOP scene-- the guy even listens the Rage Against the Machine! It could be that he has formed a more tolerant view of marijuana (unlike many older Republicans), or that he truly believes the best way to handle it would be to leave it in the states' hands; but there is always the very real possibility that this statement was just a way to draw younger voters from Obama or Third Party candidates. We must not forget that although Ryan may hold these views, he is not the one running for president.
What does this mean for the voters and the state of Colorado?
If you are like me, a supporter of the legalization of marijuana, there are, of course, other options in voting. I am a firm believer that the only way you can truly throw away your vote is by not voting for your conscience. The two main third party candidates running this November are Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate, who is running on a platform that includes completely ending the War on Drugs. Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, is a staunch supporter of the legalization of marijuana.
Jim Gray, a Judge for Orange County in California, has stated that if California legalized and regulated marijuana the way that Amendment 64 is proposing to do in Colorado, that the state would not only see an increase in revenue by $2 billion, it would also decrease state spending by nearly $2 billion (decreased court costs, prison costs, etc.). Now, apply these numbers to Colorado. Marijuana and Hemp are huge cash crops that are easily grown and legalizing and regulating marijuana would stimulate small farmer growth, create jobs in the marijuana and hemp industry, and reduce border and gang violence.