I like to think that Trump’s failure to support marijuana legalization cost him the election.
But now I have the same questions about the conservative movement going forward, and America always needs a healthy opposition, so it should be of concern for everyone, whatever their politics.
Unfortunately, it would seem that leading conservative think tanks have already been captured by the Drug Warriors. The Heritage Foundation, one of the oldest voices on the right, is actually headed by a former Associate Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, under President George H. W. Bush, Kay C. James.
However, Heritage has been lying about marijuana, and about little old me, for a long time.
Not to be outdone, the Hudson Institute, one of Heritage’s leading competitors, is actually headed by James’ former boss, John Walters, who was the Czar himself under Bush. And Walters was certainly one of the worst.
Walters actually said, “(Marijuana) is by far the single largest factor in illegal drug addiction in the country. … The conventional view out there today is that marijuana is a soft drug, that marijuana is harmless and that it is not addictive, and there is no withdrawal. It’s not just a gateway drug. … If you are not talking about marijuana, you are not talking about the central part of the problem.” Yep. He really said that.
Another major conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, is more moderate, relying primarily on Sally Satel. She is what I would call a “moderate prohibitionist,” but unlike her counterparts, she is intellectually honest. Nonetheless, AEI is really out of touch with the American people on this issue.
In real-world politics these think tanks exist to give cover to politicians, and there are a few politicians who actually care about ideas. For those who do, the Cato Institute, Washington’s leading Libertarian think tank, and Reason in California are excellent.
Then there is Fox News and Tucker Carlson and … Wow!
Carlson is no fringe crackpot. He is one of the favorites of the new post-Trump Fox News. He is a mainstream crackpot.
The problem for “conservatism” now is that everything has to be calibrated around Trump, whose previous “libertarian” views on marijuana evaporated when he thought a prohibitionist Attorney General, first Jeff Sessions, then Bill Barr, both prohibitionists, would be his consigliere. Oops!
Over the next few years, American Conservatism will have to redefine itself, and if it ties itself to marijuana prohibition, it will never regain the majority.
It’s time to choose. But it always is.
Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and creator of Blue Ribbon Hemp for Senior Citizens Oral Strips.