Appealing to Western individualism and a mistrust of federal government, activists pushing marijuana legalization at the polls in Colorado, Oregon, and Washington State have lined up some prominent conservatives, from one-time presidential hopefuls Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul to Republican-turned-Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Associated Press reports. “This is truly a nonpartisan issue,” said Mark Slaugh, a volunteer for the Colorado initiative from Colorado Springs, which has more Republicans than anywhere else in the state.
“States’ rights! States’ rights!” Slaugh cried as he handed out flyers outside a rally last month by Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Many Republicans took the flyer. Most Republicans still oppose legalization. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney vows to enforce federal law. When Ryan told a Colorado Springs TV station in September that medical marijuana was “up to Coloradans to decide,” his campaign quickly backtracked and said he agreed with Romney. The advocates’ appeal goes like this, says AP: “States should dictate drug law. Decades of federal prohibition have failed where personal responsibility and old-fashioned parenting will succeed. Politicians back East have no business dictating what the states do.”