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Will Republican Voter Numbers Grow with Marijuana Use?

by Louis J. Wasser

“Federal and state laws should be changed to no longer make it a crime to possess marijuana for private use.” – Richard Nixon

Bill Clinton might go down in history as the only President with enough chutzpah to claim he never inhaled when asked whether he smoked weed. In recent years, he said the media “twisted” what he originally said. (R-i-i-i-ght, Mr. President!) But initially, he probably could have gotten away with boldly acknowledging he toked his head off as a young man. After all, Bill Clinton was and remains a Democrat.

Republican ex-President George W. Bush has openly admitted to alcohol abuse in his college years. In fact, he had a DUI when he was 30, and also had to deal with allegations that he used cocaine.

Americans are a forgiving electorate. It’s just as well, because when the ganga aroma finally clears, we’ll own up to the reality that GWB has had plenty of fellow Republicans for mellow company. For starters, how about former New Jersey senator Bill Bradley, Sarah Palin, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Newt Gingrich and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas?

Still not convinced? How about former New York Republican governor George Pataki, or New York Republican governor Mary Donohue – or the ex-Senate Minority leader Bob Dole?

The point is there are elections to be won. It’s time for the Republicans to stop sweating the moralistic small stuff, and start worrying about more substantial political issues if they’re looking to put a president in the White House come 2016.

Forget about being on the wrong side of history. Playing catch-up will do just fine. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 54% of Americans say marijuana should be made legal. In 1969, when Republican voters were squaring off against stoned hippies, and Gallup first posed the question to the American public, only 12% of Americans claimed weed should be made legal.

In the new Pew survey, 76% of those polled said that citizens convicted of a minor possession charge should not serve jail time. And from a newly informed (or perhaps pickled) America, here’s a surprising statistic: 7 in 10 Americans believe that alcohol is more harmful to a person’s health than marijuana.

Meanwhile, some Republicans are making progress in the enlightenment and lighting-up departments. According to Rick Thompson who diligently tracks the issue, Republican legislators are sponsoring a “…current Provisioning Centers Act (PCA), a dispensary bill being debated in the state Senate,” – one that was “written in 2011 by agents for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is championed by the National Patients Rights Association.” Moreover, “the bill’s progress is in the hands of the Senate Majority Leader, Randy Richardville, a Republican who himself forced a business-created marijuana distribution law through both houses of legislature in 2013.”

Once the moral stigma of weed is finally buried, and Republicans come out of the closet with respect to its sensible regulation and medicinal benefits, they can feel more relaxed about sending their own cool, swinging candidate to Washington. One small puff for Republicans; one giant puff for America.

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