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March 23, 2014

"Marijuana industry finds unlikely new allies in conservatives"

The title of this post is the headline of this interesting new article in the Los Angeles Times.  Here are excerpts:

Political contributors are not the only ones taking notice of the new realities of the marijuana business, said San Francisco-based ArcView Chief Executive Troy Dayton, who estimated his group would pump about $500,000 into pot this year.  Officeholders and candidates now jostle for the stage at investor meetings, he said. "A little more than a year ago, it would have been worthy of a headline if a sitting politician came to talk to a cannabis group," he said.  "Now they are calling us, asking to speak at our events."

No clearer example of the change exists than the industry's newest full-time lobbyist, Michael Correia.  An advocate for the 300-member National Cannabis Industry Assn., he is a former GOP staffer who worked two years as a lobbyist for the American Legislative Exchange Council — the powerful conservative advocacy group that has worked with state lawmakers to block the Affordable Care Act, clean energy incentives and gun restrictions.

"People hear the word 'marijuana' and they think Woodstock, they think tie-dye, they think dreadlocks," the San Diego native said. "It is not. These are legitimate businesses producing revenue, creating jobs. I want to be the face of it. I want to be what Congress sees."

Correia doesn't like to smoke pot. It makes him sleepy, he said.  And he isn't among those who have been in the trenches for years fighting for legalization.  For him, the work is largely about the federal government unnecessarily stifling an industry's growth. Any conservative, he said, should be troubled when companies can't claim tax deductions or keep cash in banks or provide plants for federal medical research....

Correia's association ... recently formed an alliance with Grover Norquist, the anti-tax activist who runs Americans for Tax Reform. In the fall, Norquist stood at a news conference with a longtime nemesis, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), one of the most liberal members of Congress, to promote a measure that would allow marijuana enterprises to deduct business expenses from their taxes.  "Grover's view is government should not pick winners and losers," Correia said. "It is a fairness issue. This resonates with him."

The Marijuana Policy Project recently purchased a building in Washington's vibrant Adams Morgan neighborhood, complete with a rooftop deck. On a recent warm evening, it hosted its first fundraiser there for a Republican, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa. The next day, Rohrabacher noted the "evil weed" some loiterers had been inhaling outside the building: "They were smoking tobacco," he said.

Rohrabacher is a coauthor of a bill that would require the federal government to defer to state laws that allow marijuana sales. "If it was a secret ballot," he said, "the majority of my Republican friends would vote for it."

March 23, 2014 at 10:10 PM | Permalink

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More specifically, not so much "conservatives", but "constitutionalists," pragmatically represented by the Tea Party. The Tea Party has two significantly different factions, the conservatives and the (small "l") libertarians. Conservatives generally are pro-religious, pro-life, anti-gay marriage (but not necessarily anti-gay in general), and generally want to adhere to greater social control, including the continued criminalization of drugs. The libertarian element, however, is less- (or non-) religious, less pro-life (but not usually 100% pro-choice), allows gay marriage, and generally want to remove most social controls, including the legalization of drugs.

Of course, both factions hate crony capitalism, socialism (which is crony capitalism run amok), government control of economics, of race, and virtually most of what the Democratic Party stands far, particularly with runaway control of people's lives via government edict. But as for drugs, in general the majority of conservatives are against legalization of drugs, and the libertarians are for it.

Obviously, there are exceptions all over the place, and the author of the article cites one such exception. This is not a diss on the article but a clarification on what the constitutionalist (Tea Party) wing actually consists of. Establishment (moderate) republicans also run the gamut, but they are not conservatives, so the point is moot.

Posted by: Eric Knight | Mar 23, 2014 10:40:58 PM

If you take a conservative and remove the religion and prejudice, you would end up with a libertarian. The growing strength of the libertarian wing is a natural result of sweeping away superstition and ignorance.

Posted by: Kim | Mar 24, 2014 12:09:35 AM

Kim --

If you took a liberal Democrat and removed the blinders and the sense of grievance, you'd still wind up with someone who wants everyone else to pay his bills.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 24, 2014 8:56:39 AM

Kim:
Religion is prejudice, true? [As well as "superstition and ignorance".]
Irreligion is open-mindedness, fairness, tolerance, and enlightenment.

Posted by: Adamakis | Mar 24, 2014 10:14:37 AM

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