Don’t let his dry mouth fool you: Marco Rubio is no friend of marijuana legalization or even states’ ability to end cannabis prohibition within their own borders as he has joined Chris Christie in the Reefer Madness camp of using armed federal agents to override the will of the voters.
On Sunday, Florida Senator and presidential candidate Marco Rubio appeared on Meet The Press, where he shared his thoughts about states legalizing marijuana. Rubio began by explaining that he would be open to medical marijuana only if it went through the FDA process, following up with a vow to enforce federal law in states that have legalized it for recreational use:
Sen. Rubio: I’m not in favor of legalizing marijuana. I’m not. I never have.
Chuck Todd: In states that have, would you then use the federal government to supersede those state laws?
Sen. Rubio: Well, the federal government needs to enforce federal laws. I believe the federal government needs to enforce federal law, and I think this country already is paying a terrible and high price for the impact that alcohol has had on families, on addiction, on the destruction of marriages, homes, and businesses, and now we’re going to legalize an additional intoxicant. It’s very simple: when you say something is legal, well you’re basically telling people it isn’t that bad. It can’t be that bad, it wouldn’t be legal if it was.
His recent comments on marijuana policy seem consistent with his long-held prohibitionist convictions. Last year, Sen. Rubio said he thinks marijuana legalization “is not good for the country” and that the discussion ends at the conflict between federal and state laws: “Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced.”
In January, Marco Rubio argued that while “states can make decisions about what laws they wish to apply within their own borders,” the states that choose to legalize “may well come to regret it.” Unfortunately for Marco Rubio, this hasn’t turned out to be true: after their state legalized marijuana in 2012, Colorado voters have not changed their minds on the issue. In fact, not only has the sky not fallen in Colorado, but the state has seen increased education funding, safer roads, decreased crime rates, and lower teen marijuana use since legalization has taken place.
Of all the Republican presidential candidates, Chris Christie has received the most attention for his anti-marijuana positions, and Marco Rubio seems intent on proving he can push for the drug war just as boldly.
While Rubio has tried to brand himself as a young, open-minded Republican, his views on marijuana may cost him the support of young Republican voters, most of which support legalizing the plant. Other candidates have incorporated these changes in public opinion into their platforms, such as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, or Jeb Bush, who have all made statements suggesting they support states’ right to legalize marijuana free of federal interference. The position of enforcing federal marijuana laws in states that have legalized cannabis cannot be sugarcoated. Sending in armed, federal law enforcement officers to arrest people abiding by state law is not a conservative principle; it is a radical position that is out-of-step with the American people and the Republican Party.