Sen. John McCain: Re-Legalize Marijuana (Maybe) and Rethink the War on Drugs

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(From the Intellectual Ammunition section in Volume 18, No. 18 of the Liberator Online. Subscribe here!)

You know that America’s disastrous War on Drugs is on shaky legs when even an arch-conservative like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) questions its effectiveness and gives a friendly nod to re-legalizing marijuana.

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Tucson, Arizona on September 5, McCain did exactly that, reports U.S. News & World Report.

“What’s going on in Mexico, in my view, to some degree, is our responsibility… because we’re creating a demand for drugs in this country and when there’s a demand, there’s going to be a supply,” McCain told his constituents.

Some attendees immediately called out “Legalize it!”

“Maybe we should legalize it,” McCain responded. “We’re certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned.”

Applause broke out.

“But I respect the will of the people. There was a vote here in Arizona…”

His voice trailed off. Perhaps he was referring to Arizona’s 2010 legalization of medical marijuana?

Recent polls show that “the will of the people” is now re-legalization: a majority of Americans — and nearly two-thirds of people born between ages 18 and 32 – say marijuana should be legal.

As for Arizona, The Behavior Research Center’s Rocky Mountain Poll in May 2013 found that most Arizonans — a solid 56 percent — favor legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, with just 37 percent opposing.

There is an active initiative campaign in Arizona underway to re-legalize marijuana in 2014 and “allow for legal, taxed, and regulated marijuana/cannabis/industrial hemp use and commerce.”

McCain, who was the 2008 Republican presidential candidate, went on to finish his explanation of how making drugs illegal creates a black market that brings with it extreme violence:

“They are bringing these drugs across to our country because there’s a demand for them, and there’s going to be a supply wherever there is a demand…. the slaughter has been terrible… thousands of innocent people have been killed.

“So my urging is that this country engage in a conversation about drugs, about the punishment for drugs,” McCain concluded. “A huge percentage of the people in prison today are [in there for] drug related crimes. Now I’m not saying that’s good or bad, but I am saying that we need to have a national conversation.”

You can watch a video of McCain’s town hall, posted at U.S. News & World Report, courtesy of  KVOA-TV. McCain’s comments on marijuana begin at 29 minutes.

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About the author: James Harris

James Harris is the editor of the Liberator Online, the leading email newsletter of the liberty movement. His articles have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, and he has been a Finalist for the Mencken Awards, given by the Free Press Association for "Outstanding Journalism in Support of Liberty."