Breaking News:Dangerous Delays: What Washington State (Re)Teaches Us About Cash and Cannabis Store Robberies [REPORT]

Sarah Palin and the Marijuana Legalization Debate

These comments from Sarah Palin last week are continuing to generate discussion:

"If we're talking about pot, I'm not for the legalization of pot, because I think that would just encourage our young people to think that it was OK to go ahead and use it and I'm not an advocate for that.

However, I think we need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts. And if somebody is going to smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody else any harm, then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at to engage in and clean up some of the other problems we have in society that are appropriate for law enforcement to do and not concentrate on such a, relatively speaking, minimal problem that we have in the country."

Mike Huckabee responded with a bizarre joke about Palin doing cocaine on TV, and Ryan McNeely has a good piece addressing the absurdity of defending marijuana laws while simultaneously asking that they not be enforced. Unfortunately, The Economist departed from its typically superb drug policy coverage with a strange defense of Palin's remarks:

Basically, while Sarah Palin's position on this issue, as on many others, is semi-deliberately incoherent, it is in this case a semi-deliberate incoherence that has proven to be effective policy in many countries, and I'm not even sure it's the wrong stance on the issue.

The full argument is too rambling to quote (see for yourself), but the author's point is that marijuana isn't really even legal in the Netherlands, so maybe there's no need to legalize here either. It might make sense if we didn't have a massive blood-thirsty drug war army literally occupying our cities. Prohibition is a for-profit industry in America. It sustains itself through a vast campaign of propaganda and intimidation, and I doubt the solution is as simple as asking these guys to please calm down.

The warriors who invade private homes in bulletproof bodysuits and murder small dogs for having the audacity to bark at them are not responsive to pleas for a more measured enforcement model. That the law authorizes their actions is the go-to excuse when their machine guns go off prematurely, and until that changes, neither will anything else.
Nevertheless, the fact that Palin was able to create such a flurry of dialogue with a few casual comments is testament to her potency as an advocate for whatever half-measures she's willing to stand for. And the fact that FOX News is now employing people who will keep posing these questions to prominent political figures is pretty cool, too.

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

The Tea Party is with us on marijuana legalization

As usual, excellent analysis, Scott. This is further evidence that libertarian-leaning Republicans have come around to a consistent position on government waste in the war on marijuana. Especially given the dominant anti-incumbent sentiment, Republican leadership in Washington would be wise to not further alienate the Tea Party activists.

Also, since when did the Economist start speaking in first person singular??? I must have missed it, since they don't put any names of authors on their articles...

borden's picture


I was wondering about The Economist and authorship too. Perhaps it's that this was a blog post -- which could also explain the weak position on the issue, a blog post is more likely to represent off-the-cuff meandering and thinking out loud than other types of articles. The Economist did much to get me interested in this issue, by the way.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

Try to think this through, Sarah

"I'm not for the legalization of pot, because I think that would just encourage our young people to think that it was OK to go ahead and use it and I'm not an advocate for that." But it's ok with her that legal alcohol sends the message to young people that it's ok to use alcohol. That message is fine with her despite the fact that alcohol kills all the time and cannabis very rarely indeed. And it's also ok with her that the law sends a very clear, very loud message that the law and justice are opposing concepts, just the message idealistic, impressionable young people need to hear. Also OK is the escalating violence that is the result of creating a black market, all the scumbag piss tests that give alcohol a free pass, all the expenses and lost revenue to the broke government, all the exposure to hard drugs that happen to people only looking for weed, from dealers who have every incentive in the world to get new customers hooked on hard drugs, and all the anger and hatred toward the police from people who otherwise would respect and cooperate with them. What are the chances that she'll honestly discuss any of this? She's such a loose cannon, chances might be slightly better than with other pols, but likely she'll just do the usual pol imitation of a stone wall.

Sending a message

I like sex, but I think kids should wait. You wont see a lobby trying to stop sex because kids might try it. Get a fucking clue.

Cannabis does not kill

Cannabis does not kill rarely. In all recorded history there is not a case of an OD death because of cannabis use.

Aspirin kills more people than cannabis.  


Counter to Palin's thought that young people might think it's OK to use it, those who think that most likely already use it. Let's take a look at Portugal:,8599,1893946,00.html


No confidence

Jeez, why give a blockhead media celebrity like Palin any space in your blog at all? What she has to say on the issue of cannabis is so trite and dull it's a chore to read her comments and really, who cares? What political weight does she have any more?. We were hoping she would just fade away as a weather woman on Fox. Giving that hack attention just perpetuates her presence in the public eye---something no one needs.

borden's picture

thank you for the compliment

Thank you for the compliment. I knew that we were influential here at, but I didn't realize we were so influential that Sarah Palin's rise or fall in the public sphere depended on what we publish right here on

Seriously, Sarah Palin's celebritydom is a result of forces over which we have extremely little influence. The only result of our omitting this kind of information would be that our readers would have less information available to them about what is going on in the issue.

Like it or not, there is a political subgroup that idolizes Palin, and they happen to be having a very significant impact on Republican primaries, which makes them a force in national politics. Suppose she'd talked about this when she was running for vice president? Should that have been kept quiet then? She still has some newsworthiness left; if she didn't then the major media outlets wouldn't still be reporting on her.

David Borden, Executive Director the Drug Reform Coordination Network
Washington, DC

sara palin

What makes you think you are so smart. I doubt you could ever become a governor of any state, maybe the state of confusion, I doubt anyone would ever want you to be their vice president, I doubt you could ever even be a fox news weather person. I think you make a great left wing idealogue. Keep up the good work, you are something no one in their right mind needs either.

Having drug laws but not enforcing them

Having drug laws but not enforcing them is a position growing in popularity among politicians. It's the new 'moderate' position. People in the public eye who want to be taken seriously, yet liked at the same time, when asked about drug policy, will say things like "i think we should provide treatment for those who use hard drugs", and "if you want to smoke pot at home and not hurt anyone, i don't really have a problem with that". They say that, but they avoid the saying they actually want to change any laws. It's also the position police chiefs pretend to have.

And the worst part is that

And the worst part is that this opinion, decriminalization essentially, is the worst possible position. It increases demand by not punishing users, thereby increasing the incentive for blackmarket dealers to sell. It only serves to make the blackmarket straonger.

I don't really understand how you can say that something isn't bad enough to criminalize, but yet it should remain illegal. If it isn't important enough that we should be vigorously enforcing the laws against it, why keep it illegal?

But then, there is a whole lot about conservative ideology that makes no sense to me.

I don't really agree that

I don't really agree that decrim is the worst position. I think anything closer to legalization is better. It's important that users are not hassled, at least, if we're not gonna stop going after dealers. And it doesn't really increase the black market that much, as it doesn't seem to increase the amount of use. Countries that have tried decrim have had good results.

It should be SOME

conservative ideology. Not all of us support the lost war on drugs & especially criticize  cannabis prohibition.

Ron Paul is very strong on ending the drug war & returning the issue to the states.. So is Judge Napolitano, John Stossel & Tucker Carlson at Fox News. Beck & O'Reilly are still in the dark on the drug war & cannabis.

So you see, it is not wise to paint every one with the same brush. There are a LOT of us conservatives against the LOST drug war. Thanks!


Sarah & other politicos are irgnorant

on WHY cannabis was outlawed. It was HEMP that Hurst was after, not the cannabis that we advocate for medical & personal use. Some US founders used what we call medical cannabis & as far as I understand ALL of them supported hemp growing.

Today it's the same old basic Reefer Madness garbage repackaged to keep big Rx industry & synthetic goods manufacturers bottom lines safe. Cannabis prohibition is all about the threat cannabis & hemp pose to these big $$ corporation's profits. These people don't even know that aspirin kills more people every year than cannabis has in all recorded history.

They are too lazy to research such an important issue. What else are they ignorant of?


America's drug policy

is nothing more than a collection of laws enacted for the sole purpose of incarcerating people. Drug raids are carefully planned and executed to cause maximum damage to suspects with minimum danger to the invaders. Scott's right, if I'm reading this correctly -- there's no way to reform this kind of evil. It has to stop completely.

You don't stop a war by degrees, or by making deals with the enemy as to which or how many non-combatants he may kill this week in return for leaving the rest of us alone.

"Decriminalization" of certain drugs, "liberalizing" drug laws, "lowest priority" for law enforcement and drug policy "reform" all stem from the belief that the government does, indeed, own our bodies, and if we're really really good little slaves, maybe they'll allow us to live.

"It's the tobackgo, stupid"

"America's drug policy is nothing more than a collection of laws enacted for the sole purpose of incarcerating people." Rita partly makes my point: the drug laws are part of the strategy for chronically "incarcerating" 40,000,000 Americans inside hot burning overdose nigotine $igarette addiction, by terrorizing anyone who reaches for the most prominent alternative. ("Reach-forth" versus "to-back-go", get it?)

The over $30-bil./year that the R. J. Reynolds website proudly "complains" US taxing authorities collect "from the smokers" in $igarette taxes (i.e. bribes) pays for the anti-cannabis law enforcement-- FOLLOW THE MONEY. Note that Republicans have been getting twice as much tobackgo money as Democrats (in 2008, "Crack down on pot" Giuliani got the biggest share).


[email protected],Vancouver,B.C.CanadaIf Sarah Palin says the cops should do something else I'm sure that's just what they'll do.Seriously,this woman is so muddled in her thought process she just might be a smoker.Fact is what she said was that if we ignore it it might just go away.I would like to wish the same for Ms.Palin.

Paths of Destruction

Incoherent, Palinzoic style politics was what gave us prohibition.  It’s also the type of politics used  by Slobodan Milošević (aka Butcher of the Balkans) when he rose to power in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

Solutions to the disasters of prohibitionism demand coherent messages that change how people view drugs and those who use drugs.  Palin achieved that in a really small way by being dismissive about marijuana use, while going nowhere near legalization.  It’s probably her way of being neutral to avoid marijuana politics altogether.

Also, Sarah Palin was governor of a state whose laws view marijuana possession of one ounce or less and its use in one’s home as a personal privacy right.  No doubt her platform on pot makes life more cordial and accepting for all the Palins who like to promote their frontier-family image by residing in the isolated and frigid confines of Alaska.


Correct Answer

Here is what Palin should have said:

1. Cannabis should be re-legalized for adults immediately.
2. Drug "War" reparations will be paid in full as soon as possible.
3. All Drug "War" criminals (a.k.a. prohibitionists) will be brought to justice for their violations of human rights and God's will for people to live in freedom and liberty as acknowledged and cited in the Constitution of the United States.

Political cluelessness abounds

I, for one, welcome the former governor's comments. It wasn't too many years ago where it would have been impossible to imagine a Republican pol making such a statement.

Palin has enormous influence in certain Republican circles and on a large percentage of Republican voters. If her thoughts on this issue get accepted by a large number of her supporters, then a large voting block has moved closer to the reforms advocated here regularly.

The simple truth is that drug reform will come quicker if we build allies with prominent, reform minded politicians in the Dem and Repub parties. Instead of dissing Palin, it might make more sense to try to persuade her to support major drug law reforms.

Leave it to politicians to

Leave it to politicians to remain vague and obscure about their positions, until the issue become palatable by the majority of the American public. Until we start to treat politicians as the lowly employees that they are, they will continue to impede social progress in all matters and forms. The time will come when those who perpetuate this debacle of a system by supporting these wishy-washy politicians are gone. I keep hope alive because the culture and people who descend on sites such as these to keep informed aren't susceptible to these dated snake-oil salesmen. Keep hope America because the time will come when we are the majority, and we can reveal these hypocrites for what they truly are...spineless.



Palin is a Republican. She is educating them. She is also a politician and can't get too far ahead of her supporters. Now compare her to Gingrich. OTOH compare her to Gary Johnson. Or Ron Paul.

And why is Palin important? About 53% of Americans support or are sympathetic to the Tea Parties. I hear that is a majority or something.

Me? I've been a Tea Partier since Santelli.  But I have been a libertarian for a lot longer. And before that I was even a Libertarian and voted for Ron Paul in '88.

I'm With You

Dave at: June 24, 2010, 04:32pm,

You are so right. In fact to advance our position we are going to need the Right. It would be helpful if people could stop Demonizing. Stop demonizing marijuana, stop demonizing tobacco (schizophrenics like it - maybe a medical tobacco movement is in order), stop demonizing politicians they don't like. Especially ones that can bring 30% or 40% of Americans to the table.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, Vaping, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School