Each of the current and prospective members of the Republican field of presidential candidates for next year opposes full legalization of marijuana, although they differ somewhat on medicinal use, reports the Los Angeles Times. If the candidates are hewing to the views of Republican voters on the question of legalization, they are running against the tide of opinion in the country overall, a conundrum the party faces on other social issues, including same-sex marriage. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 53 percent of Americans said they supported legalizing marijuana, with 44 percent opposed. The political divide was stark. Only 39 percent of Republicans favored legalization, compared with 59 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of independents.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, in keeping with his tough-on-crime persona as a former prosecutor, said, “I will crack down and not permit it,” when asked whether legal marijuana sales in Colorado and Washington state should be allowed. “Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.” Christie’s comments put him on the conservative end of the candidates. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas oppose marijuana legalization — either medicinal or recreational — but agree that it’s up to the states to decide. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker shares the same view on marijuana, though last year he signed a bill that allows cannabinoid oil to be used to treat children who suffer from seizures. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky is on the permissive end of the spectrum among the GOP field. He has sought to ease penalties for drug convictions and supports medicinal marijuana; he has not supported legalizing marijuana for recreational use.