Pro-Pot Conservatism Takes to National Stage

In writing on this site earlier this month, I dared to make the case that liberals should support Tom Tancredo's third-party bid for governor. Some of you rejected this call as some far-right conspiracy to confuse voters. Thanks for the flattery. I only wish the right could get so organized.

While we can--and should--continue debating candidates in these final days before the November election, Tancredo and his support for ending the federal government's war on marijuana is now officially etched in print. Newsweek, more specifically.

In a cover story for this week's magazine, titled "The Conservative Case For Legalizing Pot," correspondent Eve Conant profiles Tancredo as one of several national Republicans who have vocally supported legalization throughout the course of their campaigns.

Conant's thesis: "You'd expect aging flower children to fight for the right to get high. But aging conservatives? As the ideals of the Tea Party's most vocal libertarians infiltrate the Republican ranks, and state and federal officials slash budgets even as they pump cash into an expensive war on drugs, some conservatives are making the case for legalizing marijuana."

She's right. And even some of the right's most vilified social conservatives are seeing the light, including Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin (who have called for varying degrees of decriminalization or legalization).

This is not to say that pro-pot GOPers (myself included) don't face a stark partisan divide when it comes to our efforts to gain support. Newsweek's own survey found that just 25 percent of Republicans nationwide favor legalization of pot in their state, compared with 55 percent of Democrats.

But there may be a better way to ask this question: With the GOP grasping to earn the support of younger, more libertarian voters, will a pro-pot vote put the nail in any competitive Republican's race? Tancredo's increasingly vocal stance on legalization in recent weeks suggests otherwise. According to a Rasmussen survey, he's now within striking distance of frontrunner Democrat John Hickenlooper.

While Ann Coulter may ignorantly proclaim that pot use is "a gateway to becoming a total loser," it is our loser of a federal government that continues to flush billions of dollars down the toilet every year in the name of a failed prohibition experiment. This is the exact type of argument that only harms Republican efforts to gain electoral support.

And Coulter's views look more extreme by the moment. As I conveyed to Conant, I got a much different response after a series of national media appearances laying out the conservative pro-legalization case, when I was "deluged with e-mails of encouragement from both sides of the aisle. Some came from evangelical home-schoolers and Vietnam vets who'd never voted Democratic, all just saying, 'We're with you.' I was stunned."

The tide is turning. Real conservatives are starting to see the light. The Drug War is bankrupting us--morally and fiscally.