DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Republicans eyeing the White House in 2016 are pushing their party to change its stance and accept a softening of federal marijuana laws — a dramatic shift from the GOP’s most recent contenders who railed against the drug and questioned its medicinal value.
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky has arguably been the most vocal on the subject, saying the federal government should leave the issue entirely to the states. Texas Gov. Rick Perry also argues that marijuana’s legal status should be a state issue, and he points to drug courts in his state that he said have helped move Texas toward decriminalization.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, meanwhile, has vowed to scrap the “failed war on drugs” altogether — more than four decades after President Nixon, a Republican, set it into motion by naming drug abuse as “public enemy No. 1 in the United States.”
“Certainly, the Republican Party has been a lot slower moving on this issue than on the Democratic side, but particularly in the past several months some prominent figures have sort of recalibrated themselves when it comes to the issue of marijuana,” said Erik Altieri, a spokesman for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.