Aug 272014
 August 27, 2014

gop marijuana conservatives rand paul bryan fischerPolitics makes strange bedfellows, and in the 2014 election cycle the Republican Party has crawled under the covers with the medical marijuana community. It seems to be working- but not for everyone, and not unconditionally.

Candidates are always looking for The Bump, that rise in polling numbers or spike in votes gained by hammering away at the current hot button topic. Citizens have a sweet spot and, and like Tiger Woods using a titanium driver on a dimpled white sphere, politicians are looking to drive their acceptance down the fairway with a strong swing.

Polling numbers indicate that the issue of marijuana law reform is the sweet spot for a growing number of Americans. Even those voters that have no personal experience with the Cannabis Sativa L. plant read the headlines and they see the consequences of a failed national policy of anti-marijuana rhetoric: science says there are medicinal properties despite government denials; full legalization models are functional and operating in two states; corruption and forfeiture abuse stories punctuate the news cycle weekly; and rightsizing government is a popular election-year pastime.

Both parties recognize the value of the media-friendly issue and could use The Bump. Battleground states like Michigan have gubernatorial and Senate races that could be decided by a few percentage points. Michigan’s Governor Rick Snyder is in a neck-and-neck battle with his Democratic opponent Mark Schauer, while races in the state for the Attorney General and US Congress remain too close to call. Michigan has 150,000 registered adult medical marijuana patients and caregivers, a huge voting block.

Some politicians make a very good living capitalizing on momentary swings in public opinion. Although Democrats have traditionally been a source of support for the liberal agenda, the drive to reform marijuana laws comes from a cross-section of the population that isn’t easily able to be defined as ‘liberal’ anymore. On a state level and nationally the Republicans have tried to take the popular issue and make it their own but their standard, business-before-babies approach often seems more like Richard Nixon and less like Rand Paul.

CBD-ONLY STATES

Conservatives have enacted half-hearted efforts to go from “I hate pot” to “I like pot voters” all across America. Trying to appease voters and not upset their traditional power base has been difficult for many, but a business outfit named Realm of Caring has made it easier for some. By convincing certain state leaders that marijuana can help children- but only for a specific illness and only if taken in an oil like the one created by ROC- they have successfully convinced nearly a dozen states to pass laws (CBD-only bills) allowing the use of cannabis oils. Some of these state programs only allow the ROC-type of cannabis oil to be recommended by doctors and administered by parents.

Although they could be shouting in joy at the thought of an incremental change in attitudes toward marijuana, cannabis supporters aren’t. These laws are easily seen for what they are: politically-motivated half-steps that appease no one and satisfy just a tiny portion of the needy population. Michigan has a robust medical marijuana program with over 150,000 registrants and at the last count there were only 53 children, many of whom may receive zero benefit from the ROC oil. It’s an obvious baby step when others are making full strides.

Governors and Senators in those states may have imagined that their efforts would be rewarded at the ballot box in November but they will not see The Bump. Wisconsin Republicans were so eager to pass their CBD-only law that they forgot to include any legal method of obtaining the oil. Florida legislators passed a CBD-only bill to try and derail a state-wide effort to enact a more broad medical marijuana law but that strategy has not been successful. The one thing all voters share in common: they are adults. Any so-called ‘marijuana’ program that doesn’t include adult medicinal use is never going to satisfy marijuana supporters on a large scale.

PAST MISDEEDS

Some Republicans have been anti-marijuana for so long they’ll NEVER get the support of voters in their state. Michigan’s Attorney General William Duncan Schuette is one of those men.

Schuette did the unthinkable- as a sitting Court of Appeals judge he took a major political stance in 2008 and led the opposition to the proposed medical marijuana law. It passed by a 63% vote. Schuette famously flip-flopped on the issue of dispensaries, claiming before the November election that a yes vote for medical marijuana would bring a pot shop on every street corner but pronouncing that the law did NOT include dispensaries after it passed. Two years later in 2010 he was elected the state’s top cop and immediatelybegan a jihad against the emergent cannabis industry.

Other Michigan Republican leaders have endorsed or signed on to marijuana industry generated legislation. The current Provisioning Centers Act (PCA), a dispensary bill being debated in the state Senate, was written in 2011 by agents for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is championed by the National Patients Rights Association but is sponsored by Republican legislators. 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.

Schuette will not see cannabis votes ever in his lifetime but other Republicans in the state might if the PCA legislation is approved before the November election. Passage of the PCA and its companion bill allowing consumption of edibles and concentrates will help the state Republicans in the tight races for governor and legislative positions- but only if the content of the bills remain as created by the marijuana advocates themselves. Last-minute changes to the bills, like a move to create commercial marijuana growing operations or adding burdensome restrictions on locations for distribution centers, will wipe The Bump out of the equation for state conservatives, even if the bills are passed,  and there will be no Bump if delays prevent a vote prior to the election.

UPDATE THE ARGUMENTS

One of the problems conservatives face when opposing marijuana law reform are the conservatives themselves.

Spokespersons for the right-wing effort to change cannabis laws can do more harm than good by spewing outdated attitudes or trying to spin science. A perfect example: Kevin Sabet. The mouthpiece for Project SAM is frequently featured on national television programs. Sabet leans on debunked medical studies and select university reports to argue that marijuana use is a public health problem that should be treated like an addiction. His rhetoric sounds more like the rantings of the Bigfoot Hunters than discourse from a learned professional.

That makes refuting his positions easy- Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project and Russ Belville of 420Radio.org are experts at the art of deciphering the Sabet pseudo-science rhetoric- but his presence on television means Patrick Kennedy and Company still think people will believe whatever a white man in a suit tells them. We’ve evolved past that.

Another way the right loses average voters because they can’t get over themselves: ridiculous restrictions on marijuana use or dispensary locations. Asking dispensary owners to pay astronomical registration fees or prohibiting medical marijuana patients from growing cannabis in their own home are actions championed by conservatives but rejected by the general populace as unnecessary and even appropriate. CBD-only bills? 24 hour television surveillance of… plants? Only one dispensary per town? These issues are losers in the minds of the modern American.

Gone are the days (almost) when you could treat marijuana patients and businesses like second-class citizens just because they were marijuana businesses or potheads. Stoners learned how to call the ACLU. Current and former smokers got jobs in television and entertainment. One of us became the Attorney General of the United States of America. Another one became President.

Actually, several of us have become President. Numbers don’t lie, and there simply is no denying marijuana acceptance is spiking while prohibition is failing. If the Republican Party is to remain relevant in the minds of marijuana users they’ll have to make their message more THC-friendly.

Source: TheCompassionChronicles.Com

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About Rick Thompson

"Rick Thompson was the Editor in Chief for the entire 2-year run of the Michigan Medical Marijuana Magazine, was the spokesman for the Michigan Association of Compassion Centers and is the current Editor and Lead Blogger for The Compassion Chronicles. Rick has addressed committees in both the House and Senate, has authored over 200 articles on marijuana and is a professional photographer."Rick Thompson Is An Author At The Compassion Chronicles and focuses on all things Michigan.
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  22 Responses to “Republicans, Marijuana, And The Bump”

  1.  

    Yes , nailed this article!
    And we have to expose the flipfloppers
    After getting elected they change
    Watch their feet not the mouth

  2.  

    Thanks,once again, Rick for excellent reporting from MO.

  3.  

    Wisconsin… last state if Walker remains in power.

  4.  

    It’s been my opinion for several months that the flood of Republican sponsored CBD-only bills weren’t necessarily an effort to “win” the cannabis vote so much as they were an effort to prevent the “family values” block from hemorrhaging voters. The so-called “Mommy Lobby” was at the forefront of the CBD frenzy (after Sanjay Gupta’s documentary), which made Republicans start sweating bullets. At the moment, the GOP cannot afford to lose mom’s vote in favor of keeping the church vote (or vice-versa), so they came up with CBD-only legislation — enough to placate the Mommy Lobby without angering the church vote. That was a duct tape solution, however — CBD-only legislation is so restricted in most cases, that nobody will *actually* benefit from them.

    That’s why Republicans took the strategy national with HR5226 — they need to keep placating through midterms until they figure out how they’re going to survive 2016. They’ll keep adjusting their strategy until they eventually figure out it’s no longer worth jumping through these flaming hoops. As the Democrats once did preceding the mass exodus of the Dixie-crats , the Republicans are going to have to shrug off the voting block that’s been holding them back for decades — social conservatives. It *will* happen.

    It’ll happen because the results of their beloved culture war are starting to be felt across the country. The approach was always the same: change local laws to make life unlivable for anyone who could be categorically labeled as “other” by prescriptive moralists (they believe it is their job to decide how you live your life). Homosexuals, feminists, hippies, immigrants, minorities, liberals of every stripe — all driven away by insufferable local ordinances backed by even more insufferable people. The strategy worked, though. All of those “other” people moved away looking for greener pastures, taking their skills, educations, and cultures with them.

    Yet another war started by conservatives who never considered how it would end.

    As a result of the culture war, young people abandon these rural communities, as well. Either they find the social conservative utopia insufferable, or there are no jobs to be had. There’s a reason “blue” states like California, Oregon, and Washington have no trouble attracting new businesses and industry — they want to employ young people on the cutting edge, not dinosaurs who pine for the 1950s. Small, rural communities lose jobs when businesses shudder their doors for good, but those jobs are not replaced by new businesses — nobody wants to bring in new industry to these places. The populations of communities dominated by social conservatives are now shrinking to the point where many of these towns are little more than retirement communities, which makes young people leave *even faster than before*.

    Social conservatives fought this culture war one battle at a time, for decades, never thinking for a moment that they would eventually lose the war through attrition. Some counties in South Georgia, for example, have lost between 10-20% of their population since the 2000 census. The overall population growth of the state has become stagnant because the growth in urban areas is offsetting the loss in the rural areas. Pretty soon, Georgia will turn purple and then blue, simply because the social conservative block has no interest in replenishing their ranks — they have always operated on the principle of exclusion, not inclusion.

    This same story has been playing out in rural communities across the nation. Eventually, social conservatives (as a voting block) will dwindle in numbers to a point when their support is no longer a deciding factor in *any* election for *any* political party. The 14th Amendment mandates government representation is determined by the number of people who live in a certain area. Eventually, Georgia will have 12 representatives for the US Congress from the Atlanta area, and 2 representatives who represent everywhere else in Georgia.

    Republicans *will* embrace the issues of cannabis law reform, marriage equality, immigration reform, and several other “hot button” social issues within the next 20 years, or they will cease to exist. It *will* happen.

    •  

      The demographic problem has gotten so bad for the right that they now must rely on gerrymandering, low turnout elections, and lots of big money, to maintain power at the national level. They have in fact gotten so desperate that they are now resorting to crazy schemes such as allocating electoral votes by congressional district, and dividing California into six states in order to increase the number of electoral votes that go to the GOP candidate.

      Your analysis looks pretty spot-on, as long as these vote-rigging schemes are unsuccessful.

      •  

        All true! Gerrymandering and other schemes like the ones you’ve mentioned, including voter ID, have been attempts to counter-balance the enormous demographic issue Republicans have been facing, given their “exclusive” nature. But these efforts are just sticking fingers in the dam. They are, quite literally, dying off.

        There’s a reason Silicon Valley isn’t located in Decatur County, Georgia (which has lost over a thousand people, and is also a “dry” county). It’s no coincidence that valedictorians from small-town high schools, universally, *move away* and never return. Nobody wants to live in the town from ‘Footloose’.

      •  

        The actual reason CA Democratic politicians want to break it into multiple states is because it’s DEAD BROKE, they squandered the tax dollars on pet peeve projects rather than using the money as intended.

      •  

        Take a close look at the net worth of the leading Democratic politicians and you will see they are filthy rich…Pelosi is an prime example.

        Politicians, in general, do not leave DC broke, and most of them lug away far more than they had upon their arrival. So much for cutting back on the perks and various other schemes for shagging dollars.

        •  

          Some people come from wealthy families, and/ or marry into money. Former Speaker Pelosi is a case in point. I see nothing wrong with this. It sometimes happens in Socialist run France too.

    •  

      Excellent analysis. I came up with something similar up thread before reading yours.

  5.  

    “[Sabet’s] rhetoric sounds more like the rantings of the Bigfoot Hunters than discourse from a learned professional.” Hey, don’t insult bigfoot hunters like that! There is far more evidence for the existence of Bigfoot than there is for any of Sabet’s ridiculous claims.

  6.  

    There are about 20% of Republicans who are die hard prohibitionists. They are like AGW warmist when presented with evidence. It is a faith not supported by facts. Fortunately they are in the 65 and older crowd and their influence is peaking. Then it will die off. In fact it is dying off. At the rate of 1 million a year. By 2016 its influence will be fading. By 2020 – even with a lot of them left – their influence will be gone.

    The best thing we have going for us is Colorado. That will be evidence that is very hard to refute. It would be nice if we could get Palin territory. But that looks iffy. BTW Palin has tried it. But she will not be running support campaigns. OTOH I don’t think she will oppose it if it passes. Her attitude is, (roughly) “We have better things to put our efforts into.”

    Florida? That could be a big win. And if it is? Well the signal will be unmistakable. Esp. if pot votes put Crist over the top.

    But the Rs are in a tough place. If they pander to their base (they have to) they lose elections over Prohibition. If they don’t pander to their base they lose elections over Prohibition. I think their only hope in 2016 is Rand Paul.

    •  

      “Florida? That could be a big win. And if it is? Well the signal will be unmistakable. Esp. if pot votes put Crist over the top.”
      The latest somewhat factual move by Gov. Trick Scott, is to Decrim cannabis before the election. In a hast to deflate Amend. 2 and it’s carry vote for Crist. (Think about it)
      This is not as far fetched as one would think, knowing Scott. This is not of my mind,
      but something that’s moving around Machiavellian Politicians and the L. E. community.
      The R’$ get their Bump, and the Cops still give out ticket$$.

      •  

        HCV,

        Yeah. They want to game the election. It is a measure of how far we have come that in order to do that they have to at least give us something. Or pretend to.

        I think it likely that former Republican Crist will squeak by on the anti-prohibition vote. And Scott must be getting numbers that inform him of that.

        •  

          I see we are up the same page. This election (Fl.) will be so Machiavellian, almost like watching a chess game.
          Amend 2 “WILL PASS”, the new Gov. may be a deferent story. My biggest fear is that we pass it, Trick Rick gets reelected, and we get stuck in a N. J. scenario..
          This is more than just a far fetched rumor. The source is of merit.

  7.  

    TEXAS NEEDS TO GET RID OF OUR BIBLE THUMPING REPUBLICANS AND GET A DEMOCRAT IN AUSTIN WHO IS WILLING TO SUPPORT THE 58 PERCENT OF TEXANS WHO WANT MJ LEGALIZED

  8.  

    Good Article. I think that this november and the next one will teach the politicians that if they want to get elected they better get “With It” on this issue or plan on losing.

  9.  

    Republicans only want to control society, not help it.

  10.  

    The next time I read a blog, Hopefully it won’t fail me just as much as this one.

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