A Pot Of Tea: Marijuana Legalization Could Divide Tea Party

Ah, the Tea Party: Righteous in its condemnation of government largess. Resolute in its opposition of taxes and president Obama. Representative of the silent majority. Heavily divided when it comes to ... pot smoking.

That's right: While the right-leaning Tea Party might seem unified in its rejection of centrism in the GOP and in its embrace of the rural Republican (a la Palin), the Atlantic's Chris Good argued Wednesday that marijuana is the one issue that could split this bunch. After all, the party's libertarian, don't-tread-on-me wing would support the freedom to smoke; it's bible-loving, social conservatives would not. It will be interesting to see how that plays out when California considers legalizing marijuana for good under Prop. 19. Writes Good:

Libertarians support looser drug laws as an expression of their most basic principle--less government involvement in private lives; social conservatives and traditionalists react viscerally to drug legalization as a descent into societal depravity. In broad terms, libertarians and social conservatives couldn't see marijuana more differently.

... On top of that, marijuana is becoming a states' rights issue. The Obama administration has enacted a policy of deference to state policies on medical marijuana, and if California's Prop. 19 passes in 2010, or if a similar measure passes in California or elsewhere in 2012, the subsequent Obama/Holder decision over what to do about it will inevitably call into question whether the federal government should (constitutionally, it certainly can) supersede the decision of state voters.

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