ALASKA: In an interview on Thursday with conservative Hugh Hewitt, 2008 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin was asked about marijuana policy in her home state of Alaska. Hewitt asked about the successful marijuana initiative that passed last year, asking in a brazen tone, “What happened in Alaska? What are you people thinking there?”
In a pleasant surprise, Palin refused to take the bait and did not indulge the prohibitionist fear-mongering employed by Hewitt. Palin instead said “We’ve got that libertarian streak in us, and I grew up in Alaska when pot was legal anyway. It was absolutely no big deal.” While she went on to explain that families and communities helped to avoid drug usage, she suggested that there are much more important issues for governments to worry about.
As Palin stated, beginning around the late 1970s, possession of small amounts of marijuana was decriminalized and eventually fully legalized. It was not until 1990 that Alaska voted again to criminalize possession. As Jacob Sullum for Reason points out, the 2014 referendum went even further than what had been the law prior to 1990, as it also legalized “home cultivation along with commercial production and sales.”
Despite her disappearance from electoral politics since the 2008 election, Palin does still remain a significant figure in the Tea Party and grassroots conservative movements. The fact that she would be willing to stand up against the alarmism of the big-government drug war forces that have had a home in the party for over thirty years shows that perhaps the debate is shifting within the GOP.