Last night I received an email with this subject line: “Medical marijuana advocates: Obama’s Colorado crackdown could swing entire election.” The first line of text in the body of the email was “‘Dude, Obama stole my weed?’ Colorado edition”; the rest of the email was a copied-and-pasted story from The Daily Caller about the Justice Department’s war on Colorado’s medical marijuana dispensaries, and how it might affect Obama’s returns in Colorado.
I get emails like this pretty regularly, but this was the first one I’ve received from an address ending in “@mittromney.com.” Yes, that’s right: a Romney campaign flack sent out a mass email yesterday attacking Obama’s record on medical marijuana.
That’s a novel event in and of itself, considering that Romney has said he’ll fight marijuana legalization “tooth and nail.” What’s perhaps more noteworthy is that The Daily Caller story circulated by the aforementioned Romney flack reiterates Romney’s stance:
Last week GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin congressman, told KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs that states should have the authority to choose whether to legalize medical marijuana.
“Governor Romney has a long record of opposing the use of marijuana for any reason. Paul Ryan joined the Romney ticket and supports the Governor’s position,” Ryan press secretary Brendan Buck said in an email to TheDC when asked about Ryan’s position.
Does the Romney campaign think drug reform advocates are stupid? Or is it just delighting in the disillusionment of Colorado’s liberal voters?
The cognitive dissonance doesn’t end there.
Yesterday, Lee Fang reported in The Nation that Mel Sembler, Romney’s Florida fundraising chair, has bankrolled opponents of Amendment 64, which would legalize recreational use of marijuana, to the tune of $150,000. Sembler is famous for having co-founded the militant and abusive teenage rehab company STRAIGHT Inc., which closed its doors in 1993 after investigators uncovered a trend of “unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threats, mental abuse…and interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping and toileting.” (Full disclosure: As STRAIGHT was shutting down, my sister was forcefully enrolled in a successor program started by one of Sembler’s proteges, called SAFE, Inc. It followed Sembler’s playbook to the letter, and closed its doors a decade later under a similar black cloud of civil suits and government scrutiny.)
If Romney’s ties to a drug war profiteer suggest to you that he’ll be worse on drug policy than Obama, think again: Not only is Sembler fighting for Romney, he’s also making bank off Obama’s commitment to improving drug testing technology and the Office of National Drug Control Policy’s anti-drug PSAs:
In 2010, taxpayers forked over $250,000 to a Sembler group to oversee a drug-free workplace program for the Small Business Administration. It also helps produce anti-marijuana literature and promotional campaigns.
And as bad as STRAIGHT was, rehab companies aren’t exactly going hungry under President Obama.
The similiarties between Romney and Obama on foreign policy and health care are well documented. In light of the above, as well as the RNC platform’s embrace of the mandatory rehab model, it’s time to add federal drug policy to the list of things that will stay the same regardless of who loses in November.