Kudos to Bill Richardson on Fighting For Legalization of Medicinal Marijuana

While Clinton and Obama hardly showed courage on the culture wars front in their cautious handling of their responses to General Pace’s comment that homosexuality is immoral, Bill Richardson is showing some real courage. Richardson is preparing to sign a bill which he pushed to legalize medicinal use of marijuana in New Mexico.

“So what if it’s risky? It’s the right thing to do,” said Richardson, one of the candidates in the crowded 2008 field. “What we’re talking about is 160 people in deep pain. It only affects them.”

The legislation would create a program under which some patients — with a doctor’s recommendation — could use marijuana provided by the state health department. Lawmakers approved the bill Wednesday. The governor is expected to sign it in the next few weeks.

Richardson has supported the proposal since he first ran in 2002. But he pushed especially hard for it this year, leaning on some Democrats to change their votes after the bill initially failed.

Richardson has already attracted some interest among libertarians, and this could enhance that view:

Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico said Richardson will be the first presidential candidate ever to advocate medical marijuana “by vocally supporting and signing legislation.”

In signing the measure, Richardson “will be sending a strong message that states can and should exercise their right to do what is in the best interest of their citizens free from intrusion from the Federal government,” said Reena Szczepanski of the advocacy group.

Richardson said he has been asked about the issue by only a few voters while campaigning in Iowa. He said the White House had urged him not to sign the bill.

“I don’t see it as being a big issue,” he said. “This is for medicinal purpose, for … people that are suffering. My God, let’s be reasonable,” he said.

Hopefully Richardson’s strong advocacy of legalization of medicinal use of marijuana will force the other Democrats to take a stand, possibly making this a national issue and bringing about changes in the federal laws which restrict medical marijuana use. Richardson’s stand might also provide a contrast should the other candidates try to avoid taking a clear stand on controversial issues. If Democrats really hope to win, as opposed to benefiting from people voting against Republicans as in 2006, they need to differentiate themselves from the authoritarian right by becoming a party which consistently defends individual liberty.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Mark Robert Gates says:

    © 2007 Mark Robert Gates

    Why these people who all experimented with drugs in their youth, cannot understand, they will not succeed in intimidating their children into, not experimienting, I do not know. We need to remove the hostility and contempt from our approach to regulating drug use.

    If we were to legalize all recreational drug use, then we can divert the funds spent on our useless drug war, into finding a way to keep intoxicated drivers off our highways, and from engaging in emloyment activities while intoxicated. Also, people newly emperimenting with drug use can be spared the experience of a bad batch. Then the cost of regulating recreational drug and alcohol use, can be made to be required to be supported entirely by taxes on drugs and alcohol, so those who do not imbibe, do not have to financially support those who do. And, if and when drugs and alcohol become all a person does, then rehab can be made manditory.

    We will see the day, where we will have to submit to having our car impounded, and being transported to a hospital for drug testing, if we are spotted driving erractically, or fail field sobriety tests. As, there is no possible way to test for intoxicating combinations of recreational drugs and alcohol, and prescription drugs, of which can be administered in the field.


    Mark Robert Gates
    Benevolently Beloved

    please my blogs:
    Loki Epona Phoenix Phase’s
    Democratic Party Idealog’
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