This isn’t exactly a new position for Cruz, but it’s a nice contrast to Trump when you see a candidate with some intellectual consistency. I think that Cruz’s most hardcore base (deeply evangelical conservatives) are probably not all that keen on legalized weed. But Ted Cruz is a guy who believes in Federalism as a principle, and the issue of marijuana legalization (vel non) is more or less a quintessential state police function, which ought to be decided by the states.
Ted Cruz agrees:
In two interviews on Saturday, Ted Cruz reiterated his support for marijuana federalism. “Personally,” he told the ABC station in Denver, “I would vote against marijuana legalization. If the state of Texas had a referendum on it, I would vote no. 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.”
Talking to The Denver Post the same day, Cruz explained the practical advantages of letting states go their own way. “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,” he said. “If it works well, other states may choose to follow. If it doesn’t work well, other states may choose not to follow.” He said it was too early to say how legalization is going in Colorado.
Those comments comport with what Cruz said at last year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. “I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy,'” he told Fox News host Sean Hannity. “If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I personally don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”
If this is your position on abortion, it makes no sense that it wouldn’t also be your position on marijuana. While Cruz often gets criticized for being a caricature of the hard core conservative, he’s actually a pretty thoughtful guy. I’ve known him over the years to seriously listen to anyone who has a good idea on something, and change his position when presented with new evidence.
The marijuana issue is one of those issues – Cruz used to be a critic of the Obama administration’s refusal to enforce (probably unconstitutional) Federal law in Colorado when Colorado legalized marijuana, but now his thinking has clearly changed. It’s difficult to find a political reason for it since it will probably hurt him with voters he is trying to court, so the remaining explanation is that he’s trying to be consistent. Which, as I noted, is a nice change of pace.