Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney used an interesting phrase on Monday in response to a question about his stance on marijuana policy.
In an interview with the Denver Post, Romney was asked to weigh in on the future of the state’s highly active medical marijuana industry.
“I oppose marijuana being used for recreational purposes and I believe the federal law should prohibit the recreational use of marijuana,” he said.
As the Washington Post points out, his decision to use the “recreational” distinction is strange, especially in the context of a question about a state that has legalized marijuana for non-recreational use. Be that as it may, the Romney campaign later reiterated its steadfast support for continued prohibition on the substance in a statement to the Post.
“Governor Romney has a long record of opposing the use of marijuana for any reason,” a spokesperson said. “He opposes legalizing drugs, including marijuana for medicinal purposes. He will fully enforce the nation’s drug laws, and he will oppose any attempts at legalization.”
The candidate has made his anti-pot stance clear in practice as well. Romney has personally confronted at least one person smoking marijuana on the beach near his vacation home in San Diego, according to the New York Times.
Earlier this year, Romney vowed to fight marijuana legalization “tooth and nail.” In explaining his position, he outlined his belief that marijuana was a gateway to harder drugs. While Romney’s rhetoric on the issue may seem extreme, he appears to be largely in step with President Barack Obama when it comes to marijuana enforcement. The tone from candidate Obama gave hope to marijuana reformers, but according to all measurable figures, the administration has increased crackdowns on medical marijuana facilities in states that have legalized the substance. And while there have been rumors out of the White House that a second term President Obama might scale back the war on drugs, marijuana policy advocates have remained skeptical.
Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan appeared, for a moment, to be the one dissenting voice in the 2012 presidential election. In an interview last month, Ryan said he supported letting the states decide issues of marijuana legalization. The campaign quickly tried to walk this back, however, announcing that Ryan “agreed with Romney” that marijuana should be illegal in all forms.