The dark-horse GOP presidential candidate is supporting medical-marijuana proponents in Michigan, who have a tough road ahead.
The people paying the most attention to the fight for the GOP presidential nomination are well-worn stereotypes at this point: rich white men, old ultra-conservatives, religious anti-abortion advocates, young people rebelling against all the Marxists at their liberal arts college. But there's another group you might not expect to care so much about Republican politics: pot smokers.
In Michigan, where medical marijuana has been legal since 2008, the state Supreme Court is set to hear two cases this week from people suing their Michigan localities for not allowing them to cultivate and otherwise possess marijuana. The duo of cases presents the kind of complex problem that continues to arise in a nation where state cannabis laws are increasingly different from prohibitive national ones, and where towns and counties can have their own pot laws that differ from the state in which they reside. Throughout all this madness, one Republican candidate has made it his goal time and again to say that he wants to drastically revamp America's drug policies. That candidate is Ron Paul, and Michigan residents are paying attention.
Sure, Jon Huntsman has said that he supports states' rights to medical marijuana, but Paul takes that position to an extreme, saying that marijuana should be legal for any use, as should other controlled substances. It sounds radical to some, but not to Michigan's medical-marijuana advocates, who are fed up trying to fight their local governments for their right to pot. Paul has even started sending campaign volunteers to Michigan medical marijuana supporters to drum up support. Just this weekend, while other Republicans met at a Clare, Michigan, hotel for the annual "4th District Republican Roundup," a group comprised of medical-marijuana patients and caregivers, was down the road at the public library, listening to a Paul representative explain the finer points of Paul's marijuana policies.
How Michigan's medical marijuana fight will shake out remains to be seen; the state's attorney general, Republican Bill Schuette, has been particularly hard on marijuana dispensaries and caregivers, despite their legality. But with nearly 80 percent of Americans agreeing that medical marijuana should be legal, it seems unlikely that presidential candidates besides Paul will be able to remain mum or halfhearted on the issue of pot. It also seems unlikely that citizens will tolerate people like Schuette for much longer.