Law & Politics

Source: WikipediaOn Saturday, GOP POTUS candidate Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate. Weedists are painfully aware of Mitt Romney’s views on cannabis, but what about Paul Ryan’s? It appears Paul Ryan has done an excellent job of not going on the record talking about the war on drugs or cannabis reform.

Lets look at what we do know about Paul Ryan’s background, voting records and stances:

Paul Ryan’s Medical Marijuana Voting Record

  • In 2005, Paul Ryan voted against an amendment to undercut a Supreme Court decision that the government can prosecute medical marijuana users, even when state laws permit doctor-prescribed use of the drug. Specifically, the proposal would have blocked the Justice Department from prosecuting people in the 10 states where the practice was legal including Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington State. Advocates argued that marijuana was the only way that many chronically ill people, such as AIDS and cancer patients, could relieve their symptoms. Opponents said the amendment would undercut efforts to combat marijuana abuse and argued that Marinol, a government-approved prescription drug that contains the active ingredient in marijuana, offers comparable relief. The amendment was rejected, 161-264. [Roll Call 255, H 2862, 06/15/2005;AP, 6/15/05]
  • In 2007, Paul Ryan voted against an amendment to protect state laws that allow the use of medical marijuana. The amendment was an attempt to bar the use of funds in the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill to prevent the implementation of state laws authorizing the use of marijuana for medical reasons in certain states. The amendment was defeated 165-262. [Roll Call 733, H 3093, 07/25/2007;Congressional Quarterly]

Drug Policies, Homeland Security and Civil Liberties

  • Paul Ryan was the speechwriter for the first Director of the National Drug Control Policy
  • Paul Ryan has been rated -10 by NORML, indicating a “hard-on-drugs” stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Paul Ryan believes in requiring all laws to cite Constitutional authorization. (Jun 2009)
  • Paul Ryan believes individual liberty requires limited government. (Jan 2011)
  • Paul Ryan opposes regulating tobacco as a drug. (Apr 2009)
  • Paul Ryan rates a zero with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Arab American Institute.
  • Paul Ryan opposed removing US armed forces from Afghanistan. (Mar 2011)
  • Paul Ryan supports making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
  • Paul Ryan supports extending the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps. (Feb 2011)
  • Paul Ryan believes in allowing electronic surveillance without a warrant. (Sep 2006)

Although Paul Ryan is a Tea Party favorite who quotes Ayn Rand, his record is at extreme odds with his small government claims. As a Libertarian, I echo the hypocrisy so well stated on PostLibertarian:

But Ryan is a seven-term Congressmen, and his voting record is harsh enough to stop that fluttering libertarian heart. He voted for the Iraq War, No Child Left Behind, the Medicare expansion, TARP, and the auto bailouts. He’s no friend of civil liberties, either, voting for the Patriot Act, warrantless wiretapping, and the NDAA. (Images like this one are already making the rounds of /r/libertarian.) Ryan looks remarkably like a typical Republican who supported expanding government under Bush and then under Obama came down with “anti-government religion,” that peculiar form of fiscal restraint that hates all forms of government spending Democrats like while still handing out money for anything that involves the wars on terrorism and drugs.

A true small government person would reign in spending across the board, including military spending and the costs of forcing prohibition against the will of the people. It appears Paul Ryan uses small government more as a convenient label when necessary. His record clearly shows a desire for government to serve as morality police and keeping the populace under its watchful eye.

Some talk about this ABC’s This Week video clip from Dec 2011 and Barney Frank owning Paul Ryan on marijuana, but the frustrating truth is Paul Ryan doesn’t want to talk about the topic of marijuana, so we don’t know precisely where he stands yet. HoweverI do agree with Barney Frank’s statement:

“It’s a great embarrassment to the conservatives. They want to tell people who they can have sex with. Come on, all this is big government! Who can I have sex with? Who can I marry? What can I read? What can I smoke? You guys, on the whole, not all of you, but the conservatives are the ones who intrude on personal liberty there.”

As mentioned earlier, I feel like Paul Ryan has done a fairly good job of dodging civil liberty and social issue questions. Now that he’s running as Vice President, Ryan must elaborate further on his beliefs. 80% of the DEA’s $2B+ annual budget is wasted on the war on marijuana, how is that fiscally responsible? Compare Paul Ryan’s views versus Libertarian POTUS candidate Gary Johnson.

If I could ask Paul Ryan a couple of questions, they would be:

  1. Do you believe in Federalism i.e. that under the 10th Amendment any power not given to the Federal Government should be the left to the states to decide?
  2. Is prohibition a power given to the Federal government?
    1. If you believe prohibition is a power given to the Federal government, why do you believe tobacco shouldn’t be regulated with its crippling health care costs?
    2. If you DON’T believe prohibition is a power given to the Federal government, how can you support marijuana prohibition?