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Sen. Alexander (R-TN) Opposes Feds Interfering in State Marijuana Laws

Sen. Alexander is not the first traditional Republican from a red state to adopt the states’ rights position on marijuana reform

Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander has adopted a states’ rights approach to marijuana reform issues. From the Chattanooga Times Free Press:

“Sen. Alexander believes that Washington, D.C. should not be telling states what to do about the decriminalization of marijuana,” Alexander spokesman Brian Reisinger said in an email response to questions posed by the Times Free Press.

Reisinger said that as for Alexander’s “own views, while there may be some valid medicinal uses for cannabis, he is concerned about the potential abuse and widespread use of drugs for recreational purposes and is carefully watching the de-criminalization process in the states of Colorado and Washington.”

Alexander is not the first traditional Republican from a red state to adopt this position. During a debate last month Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who is in a tough re-election fight, called marijuana legalization a “state issue” that should be decided locally not federally.

Moving in this direction politically would be smart for Republican leaders as marijuana reform continues to grow in popularity. While the Republican base doesn’t support marijuana legalization, they also overwhelmingly oppose the federal government interfering in what they see as a state matter. This is the stance Congressional Republicans can take that makes their base as well as supporters of marijuana reform happy.

We may soon get to see how truly committed Alexander is to the principle of leaving marijuana issues up to the local government. Voters in D.C. are set to overwhelmingly approve a marijuana legalization initiative this November, but Congress has the power to rewrite any local laws in the District so it could step in to overturn the will of the electorate.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at