With the contest for the Republican presidential nomination now in full swing, the candidates are looking for any issue on which to attack their competitors. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum thinks that in medical marijuana he has found an issue with which to lay into arguable front-runner Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
"When the federal government oversteps its authority, states should tell Washington they will not be complicit in enforcing laws with which they do not agree," he wrote. "Again, the best example is an issue I don't even agree with -- the partial legalization of marijuana. Californians clearly want some level of legalized marijuana, be it for medicinal use or otherwise. The federal government is telling them they cannot. But states are not bound to enforce federal law, and the federal government cannot commandeer state resources and require them to enforce it."
That wasn't the only reference to marijuana and state rights in the book. "If you don't support the death penalty and citizens packing a pistol, don't come to Texas," Perry wrote. "If you don't like medicinal marijuana and gay marriage, don't move to California."
Queried this week by the Post about the passages, Perry spokesman Mark Miner reaffirmed Perry's position. "While the governor is personally opposed to legalizing the use of medical marijuana, if states want to allow doctor prescribed medical marijuana, it seems to him that under the 10th Amendment, they have the right to do so."
That was something Santorum, who is struggling to break into the front ranks, thought he could sink his teeth into. "Gov. Perry was quite clear too in his recently published book, that the definition of marriage should be left up to 50 different state interpretations," a Santorum spokesman told the Post. "It's certainly Gov. Perry right to believe marriage can be redefined at the state level, that marijuana can be legalized and that tax dollars should be used to give illegal aliens special college tuition rates, but that's completely out of touch with what most Americans believe."
But on medical marijuana, at least, it is Santorum who is out of touch. National polls on medical marijuana in the past decade show support levels of above 60% in every poll, and up into the 80% zone in some polls.
Two other Republican contenders, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and former Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico, support drug policy reform including medical marijuana.
(This article was published by StoptheDrugWar.org's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)