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Ted Cruz 'flip flops' on states legalizing marijuana

Texas Senator Ted Cruz recently spoke at the Iowa Freedom Summit where he was making early bids to be the next GOP presidential nominee. It was there that a group of conservative activists say he “flip flopped” on the issue of marijuana.

Liberty Conservatives posted to their blog,

Before delivering a rousing speech to a raucous crowd at the summit, Cruz took some time to meet with activists from Liberty Iowa, a group founded after Ron Paul’s 2012 presidential campaign, to answer questions on a variety of issues. Cruz challenged the group to throw him “no softballs”, and they engaged in a back and forth that lasted about two hours. The meeting went by largely without disagreement, or with only expected disagreements on things like Iran. That being said, one interesting moment occurred when Cruz appeared to flip flop on his stance that President Obama must enforce marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington.

When asked about this stance, Cruz claimed that he never took the position to begin with, and had been talking about Eric Holder’s instruction to not prosecute for small amounts of marijuana. Cruz claimed that his view of Washington and Colorado was the federalist view that it was the states choice. Seeing Ted Cruz take a states rights position on marijuana immediately raised questions in my mind. This is an opinion that I can find no record of having been expressed by Cruz in the public eye, and is directly contradicted by his past statements on the subject.

At one point Cruz criticized the Obama administration for not enforcing federal drug laws, and then followed up with an interview with Reason about that topic.

One of those in attendance believes that Cruz may be pandering for votes from the marijuana legalization crowd.

Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018
Texas Marijuana Policy Advocacy Workshops — January 2018

What is most fascinating to me about this reversal of positions is that it came during a private meeting with libertarian activists in an early caucus state. Is Ted Cruz trying to pull a fast one on Iowa libertarian activists? It appears that a man who has gone to Washington with a reputation for being a “straight shooter” may have finally found a constituency towards whom he will pander for votes. Cruz talked during the meeting of trying to compete with Rand Paul for the liberty vote, but it appears that if he wishes to do so he may end up flip flopping on some key issues. Will he make the calculation that this is worth it, or abandon the liberty vote strategy for what he sees as more fertile ground? It will be fascinating to see how Cruz handles this balancing act going forward.

Cruz has largely remained silent on the issue, only going so far as to timidly support gun rights for medical marijuana patients. While he has now put out a position which supports the right of states to legalize marijuana, he still has not stated his own position of whether or not he think marijuana should be legal, either for medical or recreational purposes.

He recently stated that he “foolishly experimented with marijuana” when he was younger.

A bill has recently been introduced in Texas which would decrease the penalty for possessing less than an ounce of cannabis.

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Stephen Carter

Stephen Carter is a journalist and information technology specialist living in Waco, Texas. He has been working with the cannabis movement since 2009. He founded Texas Cannabis Report in 2013 to bring Texans accurate cannabis related news.

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