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March 02, 2015 12:24 PM UTC

Polis Co-opts Ted Cruz on Legal Pot As Cruz "Evolves"

  • by: Colorado Pols
Rep. Jared Polis, Sen. Ted Cruz.
Rep. Jared Polis, Sen. Ted Cruz.

The Denver Post's Mark Matthews reported Friday on some fun Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado is having at the expense of 2016 GOP presidential hopeful and "Tea Party" firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz:

Jared Polis and Ted Cruz are about as far apart on the political spectrum as two lawmakers can get.

But this week the Boulder Democrat and Texas Republican took the same stance on at least one hot-button issue: Colorado’s right to legalize marijuana.

And it's true: at last week's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Cruz paid lip service to Colorado's right to legalize weed.

At the annual gathering of conservative activists and Republican Party leaders, Fox News' Sean Hannity asked Cruz if he thought Colorado's legalization of marijuana was a good idea.

“Look, I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy,'" Cruz replied. "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.”

Rep. Polis, who is sponsoring federal legislation allowing states to legalize marijuana, took the opportunity to co-opt Sen. Cruz's apparent support–though we seriously doubt Polis honestly expects Cruz to co-sponsor his bill. From Polis' statement:

Cruz's defense of local control over marijuana policies comes as members of his party in the House have made outlandish threats of penalties and dire consequences directed at the mayor of Washington, DC as she implements marijuana legalization approved by 70% of her constituents. These threats included the outrageous remarks from Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) saying there would be “very severe consequences” and threatening that DC Mayor Muriel Bowser “can go to prison for this.”

“I’m proud to join with Ted Cruz in calling on our colleagues in Congress to respect the right of local citizens to decide how to regulate marijuana use, without federal government interference,” said Rep. Polis. “My bipartisan bill, the ‘Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act,’ would do just want Sen. Cruz now supports, leaving it to the states to regulate marijuana how they see fit, and I look forward to seeing Mr. Cruz introduce companion legislation in the Senate, which I expect he will do imminently.”

In case you were still wondering is Polis was being serious here, his statement concludes:

Polis also praised Cruz’s support of the local dispensaries in Colorado, where Cruz told attendees at CPAC the brownies they enjoyed had come from. He did warn Senator Cruz that under current federal law, transporting them across state lines was illegal, although TSA agents, who may go without pay if the Republican Department of Homeland Security shutdown occurs, may have been more worried about whether they were going to be able to make rent. [Pols emphasis]

Ouch. So no, not buddies! And Cruz isn't likely to sign on with Polis to do anything. With that said, the shift in Cruz's position on Colorado marijuana legalization is large and notable, compared to his very different view just a year ago–Raw Story:

Cruz said [in February of 2014] Obama overstepped his authority by refusing to prosecute marijuana users and sellers in Colorado and Washington state. Only Congress could enact such a policy, he argued.

“Anyone who is concerned about liberty should be concerned about the notion that this president over and over again has asserted the right to pick and choose what laws to follow,” Cruz said. “That is fundamentally dangerous to the liberty of the people. The concept of the rule of law doesn’t just mean you’ve got lots of laws, just about every society has laws, and indeed dictatorships typically suffer from an abundance of laws. What rule of law means is that we are a nation of laws, not of men, that no man is above the law, and especially not the president.”

At a rally in January, Cruz attacked Obama for not arresting people in Colorado who violated federal law by using marijuana.

“These are criminal laws, these are laws that say if you do ‘X, Y, and Z’ you will go to prison. The president announced, ‘No, you won’t,’” he remarked.

So how do you go from calling for the arrest of Colorado marijuana smokers for violating federal law to claiming that legalization is Colorado's "prerogative?" We assume it has something to do with wanting to be president. To that end we're not sure how much this really helps Cruz, though it's more compatible with libertarian interpretations of the Tenth Amendment favored by many of his supporters than calling on Obama to arrest Colorado pot smokers.

As for undermining all of Cruz's Republican colleagues hoping to crush the District of Columbia's move to legalize? Polis has got him dead to rights on that one.


8 thoughts on “Polis Co-opts Ted Cruz on Legal Pot As Cruz “Evolves”

  1. The conventional lede would look bad in a college paper but probably got praise from a "both sides do it" editor:

    Jared Polis and Ted Cruz are about as far apart on the political spectrum as two lawmakers can get. 

    A quite conventional Democrat contrasted with the self-aggrandizing farthest-to-the-right-wing media whore who loves stepping on toes and throwing sand in the gears of congress doesn't cut it for me.

    1. You know what, you're completely right about this. False equivalency bullshit. Polis is like Cruz IN NO WAY WHATSOEVER, including distance from "the center."

      Good call.

  2. Cruz is playing the race card, on his two-tier marijuana policy.. When his fellow Republican lawmakers bloviate in outrage about Washington, DC wanting to promote recreational marijuana use, they are really outraged at the thought that black folks might not be going to jail for marijuana use in the time-honored fashion.

    If (mostly) white Coloradans want to make millions dispensing legal marijuana, that's obviously OK. Making money while white is the American Way.

     But cut into the DC black male arrest rate and prison population? Way too lenient, bordering on Kenyan socialist gangster Fast and Furious Benghazi territory. 

    1. I don't know if bunny wabbits like cannabis or not, but if they do, I'm sure Utah already has plenty of ditchweed (wild cannabis) available for them. Most states do.. 

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