Congressman Dana Rohrabacher Brings Marijuana Legalization to GOP


Too often, marijuana legalization is seen as a liberal, Democratic policy ideal that is opposed by conservative Republicans. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who worked as a speechwriter for conservative icon Ronald Reagan, is doing his part to educate the public and his fellow Republican colleagues, that ending cannabis prohibition includes the conservative ideals of personal liberty, states’ rights and limited government. At the International Cannabis Business Conference, the Orange County Republican was even willing to sit down for Marijuana Politics with convicted drug dealer “Freeway” Ricky Ross to both listen to the felon-turned-author as well as promote the need to reform our marijuana nation’s marijuana laws.

Representative Rohrabacher chastised his GOP colleagues to support the Farr-Rohrabacher Amendment added to the Justice Department spending bill that prohibits any federal funds from being utilized to investigate, prosecute or convict citizens for medical marijuana if they are acting legally under state law. Rohrabacher told his conservative allies that he didn’t want to hear them proclaim their support for states’ rights, personal liberty or the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship if they didn’t support the medical marijuana amendment. Eventually, Rep. Rohrabacher was joined by about 50 of his fellow GOP representatives, while nearly all Democratic House members supported the amendment. Despite the disparity among the parties, Rohrabacher’s efforts are gaining votes and publicity for the legalization cause, making him one of the most important marijuana law reformers in the country.


Politicians don’t get much more conservative than Orange County Rep. Dana Rohrabacher. He was Ronald Reagan’s speechwriter, an inspiration behind California’s anti-immigration Proposition 187, a Cold War hardliner, and a man who self-deprecatingly calls himself a “Neanderthal Republican.”

But now, Rohrabacher has emerged as a national leader in one not-so-conservative issue: legalizing marijuana.

“The marijuana laws have been used to expand the power of government over people’s lives more than just anything else I can think of,” Rohrabacher said recently in San Francisco, shortly after a prime speaking slot at the International Cannabis Business Conference. “I would like marijuana to be treated the same way we treat alcohol.”

As marijuana legalization continues its mainstream march away from the coasts and into America’s Heartland, the support of conservatives and Republicans will become even more important to convince voters and politicians across the country. Two-term Republican Governor Gary Johnson is also a prominent GOP member (he will be keynoting the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference on March 15-16) while Rand Paul has shown a willingness to be sensible on the issue, although not as supportive as his father Ron. However, as the Republican Party looks to expand its base, cannabis legalization may very well prove to be a key issue as it appeals to libertarians and Millenials, two groups that can easily find their way into the GOP tent. Thanks in large party to Dana Rohrabacher, legalization certainly has the potential to be a bipartisan issue not beholden to any one party or ideology and that is a great development in the fight to bring more freedom and prosperity to the cannabis community, and all Americans.

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.