Politics can make strange bedfellows. It is a cliche, but it is simply the truth, especially in the United States. There aren’t many political issues that progressive Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have in common with conservative Kentucky Senators Randy Paul and Mitch McConnell, yet they combined forces to (re-)legalize hemp across the nation. Portland’s liberal icon, Representative Earl Blumenauer didn’t agree with his Orange County Republican counterpart, Dana Rohrabacher, very often, but when they did, it was because they both were congressional leaders working to end cannabis prohibition.
Rohrabacher is no longer in Congress, but his political achievements live on while he takes his post-political message across the globe, starting tomorrow at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Zurich, Switzerland. The Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche asked Rohrabacher about his history, legalization, and Donald Trump in a wide-ranging, extensive interview:
Does the president agree with you on marijuana legalization?
Yes. And, in fact, after we talked at several stops during his campaign (his first campaign), he reconfirmed that position. His position is medical marijuana should be legal. After that, cannabis for adult consumption should be left up to the states.
You even said, “Trump is the greatest hope for future cannabis reforms.”
Absolutely right. A large segment of the Republican Party has opposed any legalization of cannabis laws. I’ve been at this for about 15 or 20 years, now. The roadblock has always been my fellow Republicans. They have been afraid to legalize cannabis, even for medical purposes. Basically, they are afraid their constituency would vote them out.
I know a lot of people who think that Big Pharma has been the evil source nixing cannabis liberalization. It wasn’t Big Pharma that kept it illegal, it was Republican Congress members who were afraid that a majority of their voters would not approve this and they wouldn’t be reelected.
What I did is I found the one way to reach those congressional Republicans so they could defend themselves against political attacks from within their own party. The winning approach was focused on states rights. After years of trying, I finally managed to get a vote on the House floor on restricting the federal government to supersede those laws in the states that legalize the use of medical marijuana. It’s called the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment. [It passed by a 219-189 vote in May of 2014 and was signed into law by President Obama in December, that year.]
Regardless of one’s political leanings on other issues, it takes a bipartisan approach to end cannabis prohibition, just as it did with hemp. Thanks to Dana Rohrabacher, the U.S. is in a much better position today to capture the Republican votes needed to soon end the failed war on cannabis. Hopefully, more politicians will soon get on the right side of history.
There is still time to hear Dana Rohrabacher and a whole host of experts at the International Cannabis Business Conference in Zurich. After our conference, stick around for CannaTrade, Europe’s oldest hemp fair. All Zurich attendees also get admitted to Cannatrade, so get your tickets today!