Reason Defends Richardson on Medical Marijuana Bill

Reason is not the first magazine I’d expect to see defending a Democratic candidate, but given a choice of a Republican drug czar and a Democratic candidate backing liberalization of drug laws, and I’d expect them to pick the Democrat every time. Drug czar John Walters accused Richardson of signing the medical marijuana bill this week “to curry the favor of wealthy donors who are marijuana legalization advocates.” Reason responds:

Federal drug czar John Walters says New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson signed a medical marijuana bill into law this week “to curry the favor of wealthy donors who are marijuana legalization advocates.” Billionaire philanthropist George Soros and the Drug Policy Alliance Network (the lobbying arm of an organization Soros supports) each gave $25,000 to Richardson’s re-election campaign last year. Yet Richardson’s support for letting patients use marijuana as a medicine predates these donations by at least four years, and surveys indicate 70 to 80 percent of Americans agree with him. It’s possible, I suppose, that Richardson changed his mind on this issue in anticipation of money from George Soros, but it’s at least as plausible to assert that George W. Bush supports the war on drugs because of donations from, say, Mel Sembler.

This week Richardson also signed a bill that shields drug users from prosecution for possession when they seek medical help for people who overdose. The threat of legal trouble deters bystanders from calling 911, resulting in avoidable fatalities. New Mexico has one of the country’s highest heroin overdose rates. But I guess Walters would say that Richardson is just paying Soros back for his contribution. If so, we need more corruption like this.

I’m not sure that there are many wealthy advocates of legalization of medical marijuana use, but if there are I would hope to see more Governors push for this in their states, even if only in the hopes of receiving donations. Do those Republicans who object see this situation in Colorado where an AIDs patient is facing a possible six year prison term as desirable.

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