This past weekend, Republican presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz talked marijuana policy in Colorado, where he was attending the GOP convention in Colorado Springs. In two interviews with Colorado news outlets, Cruz expressed his support for states’ rights to implement marijuana legalization without federal intervention, though as a Senator, Cruz has never added his name to Congressional bills that would turn this opinion into action.
“If the state of Texas had a referendum on [marijuana legalization], I would vote no,” Cruz told Denver’s ABC 7, “But, I think it is the prerogative of the states to make that determination. I think the people of Colorado have the right to make the decision that they've made under the Constitution, and as President, I would respect that right.”
Cruz made similar comments in an interview with the Denver Post, adding that legalization in Colorado provides an opportunity for policy experimentation that could assist other states looking to liberalize their marijuana policies.
"The people of Colorado have made a different decision. I respect that decision," he said. "And actually, it is an opportunity for the rest of the country to see what happens here in Colorado, what happens in Washington state, see the states implement the policies, and if it works well, other states may choose to follow. If it doesn't work well other states may choose not to follow."
All this does not necessarily mean that Cruz would support policies easing legal states’ tension with federal prohibition. Cruz said in both interviews that he was not prepared to make a statement on whether he agreed with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper’s calls for a federal banking system for marijuana.
Cruz's opposition to federal intervention of marijuana legalization at the state level has been inconsistent. As reporter and activist Tom Angell has pointed out, Cruz has antagonized the Obama administration for allowing state legalization to go forward, including by interrogating Attorney General Loretta Lynch with more than a dozen questions on the topic, such as “What steps will you take to require these states to cease and desist their support of the cultivation, distribution, and sale of marijuana, or to otherwise bring these states into compliance with existing federal controlled substance law?”
Which one is it, Senator Cruz?
Photo: Jamelle Bouie/Flickr