The Weednesday Post

The War on Weed Is Over, and Republicans Lost

The Republicans are the Leon Spinks of politics these days.

Remember Leon Spinks? He beat Muhammad Ali. Then he got arrested a bunch, gained a lot of weight, and lost to Ali a few months later. He was pretty much done. And Ali was like 50 when Spinks lost to him.

Spinks had the whole world served up on a plate. He tried to eat it all at once. He choked on it.

The Millennials are the largest generation in American history. Bigger than the Boomers. The first 5 years of Millennials (born about 1982 to about 1987) were dyed-in-the-wool liberals. But succeeding cohorts of Millennials have become increasingly libertarian.

They’re unhappy with Obama. They hate Obamacare. They want jobs. They want something to do. Oh, and they think marijuana prohibition is stupid.

I’ve been opposed to pot prohibition since I was in college in the 1980s. Not (just) because I was smoking a lot of pot. Before that I read William F. Buckley’s views on marijuana prohibition. And I agreed.

After 2006, 2008, and 2012, Republicans knew they had a youth problem. One way to fix that problem was to reframe pot legalization as a jobs program. Had the GOP taken my advice of January 1, 2013, they would have:

In 2014, I hope Republicans and conservatives grow up and face reality. The war on pot is over, and they lost. They can continue fighting it, but they’ll lose every time.

The cannabis business is putting people to work in Colorado and Washington–growers, shop owners, distributors, truckers. Every warehouse in the Denver area is filled as a growing operation, forcing developers to build new warehouse parks. All that industry will bypass states like Missouri, whose population growth was almost zero last year.

So far, Democrats get all the credit for ending the war on week. A tiny handful of Republicans, like Missouri State Rep Paul Curtman, have the foresight to advance this issue. If the rest of his party don’t get on board soon, 2016 could be another disaster for their party and for the country.

Author: William Hennessy

Co-founder of St. Louis Tea Party Coalition and Nationwide Chicago Tea Party Persuasive design expertLatest book: Turning On Trump: An Evolution (2016)Author of The Conservative Manifest (1993), Zen Conservatism (2009), Weaving the Roots (2011), and Fight to Evolve (2016)I believe every person deserves the dignity of meaningful work as the only path to human flourishing.

45 Comments on “The War on Weed Is Over, and Republicans Lost

  1. Oh! I am correcting my last post which is not yet up?
    The slippery “smoke”:
    Or just search: Cuomo to use executive order to allow medical marijuana in N.Y.
    Overstepping again, to get that youth vote back.

  2. Giving in to this crap, is like giving into begging forgiveness for not embracing their immigration reform because we are heartless. This is a trap.
    Let’s promote stupidness, and they will get us on something else! How long do you think those new businesses will remain “pure”?
    I do not believe in these “politics”. Will they embrace another term with Obama if he promises legalization? Is there not something wrong if this issue is how to win the youth vote? REALLY?
    A better message is maybe, the war on drug cartels, but the other drugs that are now killing children, are making them a ton. Shall we legalize those, also?

  3. It is obvious that the people commenting have no idea how easy it is to get pot in today’s world. Drop this middle-aged woman in to any city of at least 10,000 people and I guarantee i could score some pot by the end of the day….most likely from another middle-aged person. People are using already, and I highly doubt that there would be this influx of new users once it’s legalized. People who are for legalization want it so the threat of going to jail is removed, not so they can smoke their brains out and become non-productive members of society. The population that smoke it will continue to do so,legal or not, and those who don’t aren’t going to start just because it’s legal. I think people don’t realize just how many smoker’s there are in this country and they wrongly assume that it will be pure mayhem if it’s legalized. It’s like alcohol in that regards, most people drink responsibly and in moderation, and it’s the same with pot.

  4. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Bill. I appreciate you continuing the conversation about conserving the conservatives’ values and viewpoints. I have been a staunch hemptarian (my word) for years, believing that cannabis can cure and hemp can heal our world of problems. I have been hosting a local community radio show for years with a show called Vibes with Val and on the last show of every month for the last four years, I have hosted Weed Wednesday and have proudly interviewed members of Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), and most importantly Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). The best reasons I have ever heard come from these former police officers, prosecutors, police chiefs, captains, and more. I recently interviewed Peter Christ, one of the co-founders of the organization and he has some amazing words to say about prohibition of consensual adult activity never working in the long run. Find out more about him (and them) at

    Again, thanks for your words, I think Missouri would be smart to be one of the first to spread the wealth to industrial hemp farmers as well as cannabis! Show-Me Cannabis wrote a phenomenal bill for 2012 which garnered over 65,000 signatures and could do even more for the Show Me State to show me freedom for growing whatever greens somebunny wants in my garden. It is more than a drug, it is fuel, energy, food, nutrition, fiber and more!

  5. Bill, I couldn’t agree more. Why do people consistently believe the youth of our country can’t get weed unless it’s made legal? Any kid in the country can tell you where to buy it, simple as that. Making it legal would, I think, take some of the mystique out of it. It would become the norm and less attractive to many kids. Our youth might even be less exposed to the drug dealer types who sell to anyone regardless of their ages. Would that not, in turn, create a safer environment for them? I don’t condone any kids doing any kind of drugs (including alcohol), but we know if they want to try it then they likely will.

    Teaching kids not to do drugs, like you have stated, is the job of the parents, church and schools not the government. I think therein lies the root cause of many of our current social ills. Just my opinion.

    I’m going to keep a studious eye on Uruguay, as they have not only made it legal but set a price limit on it. I’ll be very curious to see how all that turns out, I think the outcome will be positive one.

    I don’t smoke, by the way, did when I was a young man but I’ve grown up now. It was a big part of the culture in the Ozarks in those days, many of the old timers grew it in their corn fields to supplement the farms income. It was really no big deal, and no it didn’t turn out to be the “gateway” drug many people thought it would be. We were shown the film “Reefer Madness” at one point as kids and decided they were just New York people, they were a little different and they probably shouldn’t be smoking any weed. ;)

  6. Missouri is likely to be one of the first states to legalize it. Certainly it will be in the first five here. Show-Me-Cannabis has been one of the nation’s leaders in the legalization movement and is making strides not only in conservative rural Missouri towns, but also the liberal big cities like St. Louis and Kansas City. St. Louis and Columbia have both decriminalized Marijuana already, actually. The momentum keeps on building and it’s coming to a head, and FAST. Missouri is right around the corner with legalization and it, too, will enjoy warehouse construction on a mass scale as well, which is perfect for St. Louis as the already third largest railroad hub in the U.S.

  7. Plenty of Rs in Colorado worked on the legalization effort. Republican Liberty Caucus supported as did one of the guys now running for governor.

  8. There is no need for partisan politics on this or any issue. If you REALLY care about PROGRESS and not your ego you will look past party lines and focus on the issue…

  9. Hey there. I’m not very “up” on the political ramifications of legalizing pot, but I think it should be legalized. Just because of the fact that, as you said, the “war” on marijuana is lost. i don’t think there would be a massive influx of new smokers. I think if you raise your children the right way, they are bound to make the right decisions. And i would much rather my child (I have 3) experiment with pot than any of the pills people are taking now. Or these synthetic drugs they can get so easily. Tax it and regulate it like alcohol. it isn’t any worse, and many believe it’s better. We as a country could sure use the income

  10. If Republicans would drop the “social conservstive” bs they wouldn’t lose an election for 100 years. The same goes for the Democrats and guns

  11. I love ya, Bill. You know that, but on this one? Yikes! We need to have the debate. I see so many issues in this post, too many to debate in a comment. I think this is a very divisive issue that should be set aside until we get on a more constitutional track. Republicans/Conservatives/Libertarians are busy enough trying to fight progressivism without brining the right to get high into the debate. Do we really have to do this now?

    1. Thank you for commenting, Lisa. As I told Dennis, you deserve more f a reply than I can tap out on my iPhone right now. I’ll continue the conversation tomorrow.

      And happy new year!

  12. So you’re willing to throw the health of our youth of today & in the future under the “economic bus”? This is all about making a buck on the backs of our kids’ almost certain deteriorating well being if we go down this road? As for prohibition “never works”…do you want to legalize murder as well, Robyn? It’s a foregone conclusion we’ll never be able to “prohibit” murder in our country either, but we sure don’t want to make it more attractive either. Bad, bad conclusions on your part, Bill…one toke over the line.

    1. Dennis,

      How do you define “youth?” I don’t believe I’ve advocated feeding pot to minors.

      Also, why is it wise for government to prohibit cannabis but not alcohol? For example, can you demonstrate that cannabis is more dangerous than vodka?

      Finally, I’m reminded of this warning from William F. Buckley Jr. regarding conservatives’ weird position on cannabis:

      Conservatives pride themselves on resisting change, which is as it should be. But intelligent deference to tradition and stability can evolve into intellectual sloth and moral fanaticism, as when conservatives simply decline to look up from dogma because the effort to raise their heads and reconsider is too great.

      Robyn and I aren’t one toke over the line, Dennis. We’ve decided, for the sake of philosophical consistency, to stop hopping back and forth over it.

      1. Bill, I believe it’s vitally important as adults to “model” what’s right & wrong. If we legalize something as a society that’s previously been banned, it sends a signal to our youth that it’s OK. It’s even desireable. I never insinuated in my post you personally were condoning the use of marijuana by minors. I’m just saying that’s what the end result will be via legalization. Minors/youth take their cues from adults they view as their role models. Make it legal for adults & you encourage our youth to go down that path. As for prohibiting alcohol, it wouldn’t bother me in the least. I’m 62 & haven’t had a drink in over 29 years & plan to keep it that way. Not that I’m saying we should go back to prohibition…just giving you my personal view of alcohol.

        You’re attempting to make an fiscal argument for the legalization of pot & I say there’s just as valid a case economically against it. There will be higher healthcare costs associated with its usage. There will be increased legal & personal costs due to auto accidents. I believe we’ll see an increase in welfare roles with the increased usage of pot. There’s a backside cost of the legalization we may not see immediately, but it will eventually be there nonetheless.

        On a personal note, I tried experimenting with pot back in 1972 when I was 21. I’ll always remember my first “toke” in the back seat of a car with several buddies from my hometown of Great Bend, KS. After 5 or 6 subsequent smoking sessions spread out over several months, I came to realize there were significant psychological affects from pot usage. Paranoia & anxiety attacks are a demonstrative result of marijuana ingestion. I ended up in a hospital for 3 days with what was initially diagnosed as “nervous exhaustion”. Years later I now realize what was the proximate cause was…my marijuana experimentation.

        This isn’t about intellectually “resisting change”, it’s about doing the “right thing”. Legalizing marijuana is wrong & will have drastic future consequences. I also know you’re not alone in the pushing (intentional, not a Freudian slip) of this agenda. We’ve had Planned Parenthood push an abortion agenda since the Roe vs Wade SCOTUS decision in January of 1973. That “change” should have been resisted then just as much as it should be fought against today.

        1. Ding ding: Fallacies: Paragraph 1; naturalistic fallacy, error of fact (, Paragraph 2; error of fact(, error of fact(, faulty conclusion, reification, Paragraph 3; naturalistic fallacy, non sequitur

        2. Dennis and Lisa,

          I’ll work through your points one by one. Though I’m responding directly to Dennis’s I’m combining several points.

          1. Social Symbolism of Legalization: Dennis writes, “If we legalize something as a society that’s previously been banned, it sends a signal to our youth that it’s OK. It’s even desireable.” Perhaps some will. More, I believe, would take the move as tacit acknowledge that America’s draconian cannabis laws were wrong to begin with.

          Further, it seems to me that prohibition takes away the meaning of abstinence. If I don’t smoke dope because it’s against the law, I’m merely obeying the law. If I don’t smoke dope because of its purported negative effects on me or society, I’m setting an example. In this sense, the cannabis debate mirrors speed limits. Recently, Illinois raised its maximum speed limit to 70 MPH from 55. Is that an endorsement of fast driving? And how long will that perceived endorsement hold any meaning? My kids don’t remember a time when Missouri’s limit was 55, so the change in the speed limit law in Missouri has no endorsement effect on them.

          2. The Fiscal Argument. You go on to say, “You’re attempting to make an fiscal argument for the legalization of pot & I say there’s just as valid a case economically against it.” Here, I’ll ask to see your numbers. The total cost of prohibition in Missouri is about $150 million a year according to Harvard and Cato Institute researcher Jeffrey Miron. You seem to imply that legalization of cannabis in Missouri would cost more than $150 million in increased medical and other costs. But even opponents of cannabis law reform admit that studies indicate that cannabis use is less physically harmful legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. It is unlikely that the combined costs of cannabis regulation and medical treatment would eclipse the $150 million in savings from ending prohibition.

          3. Abortion vs. Cannabis. I’m not sure how Roe v. Wade relates to this case, but I will add something. Cannabis prohibition seeks to deny individuals the privilege of growing and smoking cannabis. It’s government vs. the individual. But the abortion debate is another matter, morally speaking. In that case, abortion opponents ask government to intervene in the murder of a human being. The two issues couldn’t be more different.

          4. On the Divisiveness of Prohibition. Lisa writes, “I think this is a very divisive issue that should be set aside until we get on a more constitutional track. Republicans/Conservatives/Libertarians are busy enough trying to fight progressivism without brining the right to get high into the debate.” That’s a good question. I debated this for a long time, considering I’ve been writing a semi-regular column since 1993. I chose to make it an issue on January 1, 2013 for a very simple reason: I believe proponents of constitutionally limited government lose credibility among persuadable potential voters (especially younger people) when we oppose cannabis law reform. We lose more credibility when we choose to simply ignore the issue and hope it goes away.

          Considering the history of cannabis prohibition, I could argue that it is a glaring symbol of progressivism, shoved onto America by FDR’s regulators looking for fix after the Volstead Act and Amendment 18 went away.

          The fact is, others are making this an issue. Democrats are winning elections by hijacking what should be a center-right position to draw otherwise disinterested voters to polls. By championing cannabis law reform, just as we champion other regulatory reforms, we have the chance to at least neutralize the Democrats’ tactic.

          I think is more likely to draw young voters into the fight for individual liberty against a progressive statist attack on freedom. By boldly announcing our willingness to right this wrong, we become more consistent and, thereby, more convincing and attractive.

      2. By the way, Bill…I intended to say this previously but I need to define for you what my “legalization” of marijuana would be. I find it deplorable we incarcerate anyone in America for the use of drugs. I believe simple drug usage needs to be “decriminalized” to the extent that it only carries a misdemeanor charge. Users still should have to “pay a price” for their actions, just not jail time. Drug dealers, on the other hand, should be locked up & the key thrown away. The bar for charging someone with being a drug dealer should be very high to avoid a simple user being caught in the net of enforcement.

        1. Dennis,

          Thank you for the conversation. I will post more over the weekend. Between work, shoveling out from the global warming, and lending vocal support to the Blues 5-0 shutout of the dreaded LA Kings, I am behind on comments.

          Yours deserve more thought than late night iPhone missives.

        2. And since you are okay with spending mine and everybody else’s money on prohibition, best you know how much it costs…

          And take the fraction of sale/manufacture vs possession to reduce the figure in your favor the price tag goes down to $6 billion a year, yeah. Then times that by the number of years, (throw away the key=50 years) then times that by the growth of the prison population for your specific concern (a little over 90,000py) for the indefinite length of time you want to see enforcement occur.

          Way to spend other people’s money, with all that strong logic you whipped out above…

    2. Legalizing Marijuana will be catered towards adults — Is youth a 21 year old? If youth want to purchase marijuana — they will be going to there local high school drug dealer to pick up a couple of joints after school. They are not going to walk in to a Marijuana store and lay down $250 for an ounce. If you want to throw the health of our youth out the window — lets take a trip over to 7-11 and pick up some cigarettes (thats our problem- and only be 18). ( I amazed that I still see so many teens smoking cigarettes in this day and age.) Nicotine is the most addictive drug out there — but we always look a blind eye towards any type of restriction or increasing the taxes on tobacco products (lets not upset the tobacco lobbyists/convenience stores). Missouri has the lowest tax rates on tobacco in the country —and I mean super low. Most kids (with there buddies) can scrounge up $10 dollars for a pack of cigarettes, $15 of a bottle of cheap vodka, at any age. Why do you think there is this epidemic with Crystal Meth and youth? It’s cheap to make and cheap to purchase — don’t get me started on why our state politicians can’t do a better job on limiting access to pseudoephedrine. (this from a guy with severe fall allergies). Also, We need to come up with ways to increase our state revenue–we will either taxing new things (like marijuana), increase existing taxes (tobacco, alcohol), or we will have take services or reduce spending on things we all need (education, healthcare, good roads, etc)? With this being said — I am a proponent of making sure these new revenue producers are spent in right areas—-last thing we need are politicians with no spending controls.

      1. This is what will happen to marijuana legalization…another reason to take way the right while they have it, with regulations and fines, because of people like you who will demonize the user. It’s an opportunist’s world no matter what you do! Do we really want to be responsible for THAT? I am with Culture Vigilante on this, because the return to Constitutuional principles FIRST is better than watering it down again.

  13. I almost always agree with you. This time I don’t. Legalizing pot (weed) will only lead to further addictions and more car accidents (since the drivers are high). Once you legalize pot it’s a short step to legalizing other drugs too. We are going down a slippery slope to a country of drug addicts Legalzing pot just helps us move faster down the slope.

    1. Hey, Ellen. Yeah, I know I get a lot of blow-back on this subject. But so did Wiliam F. Buckley from 1973 on.

      I don’t believe it’s the job of government to make people more perfect. That’s the job of families and churches and, alas, schools. Using the power of government to prohibit the use of cannabis is akin to using that power to prohibit incandescent light bulbs or to require people to pay for other people’s abortions and contraceptives.

    2. The false assumption is correlation is causation. Fallacy 1: Pot is physically addicting. it is not, alcohol is, heroin is, but pot is not.
      Fallacy 2: you assume that if pot becomes legal everyone will drive drunk. I expect it to remain the same. You might even see a drop in drunk driving if they are choosing pot over alcohol…and unlike drunks, people who are loaded do not have a need to drive.

    3. Nobody ever said driving stoned was legal? Why sites utter airways cine back to this considering more people due everyday from intoxicated drivers than all stoned drivers do in a month? Your arrangement mattress perfect sense

  14. So, are you saying that we as conservatives need to change our views, our principles, and hop on that passing bandwagon, ’cause…..there’s voters to pick up? Bill, I thought better of you. If you were gonna waste all those cyber-pixels on an article, AT LEAST you could have gone into detail about how libertarians view the issue, etc etc. But no. Republicans need to ‘get with it’, and make our platform so the hip young folks will love us! Yeah….sure! NOT

    1. Dave,

      I thought I’d done a lot on the specifics last year. I will re-hash them, again, over the next few months.

      I don’t believe prohibition was ever a conservative principle, though. I think it’s a traditionalist position, but not a conservative principle like freedom from the arbitrary rule of other men.

      1. Bill—–yeah, I understand, you covered that earlier. And that term traditionalist is probably pretty apt for describing traditional Americans reflexively against drugs that have been illegal for a long time. I will continue to think about all these viewpoints in terms of where Missouri should stand on it. Thanks!

    2. I think we are talking about stop fooling ourselves with old distorted values that keep giving the democrats elections.
      If we embrace those merging towards conservatism, then we are not trading in our values.
      Why is pot illegal, since you do not know why, then why are you against it. I have not smoked pot in 25 years. What made it illegal was a bunch of lies, the war on drugs is lost and expensive. BUT if you legalize it and tax the hell out of it, it moves jobs from law enforcement and corrections to farming and sales and taxation. It is a whole lot cheaper and profitable for a tax man to deal with illegal pot dealers then a swat team. People don’t smoke themselves to death, they do drink themselves to death. pot smokers do not beat their spouses, drinkers do. on and on.

      If we embraced the (egads) conservative gays, the conservative women who believe in birth control and abortion we would get those votes and a lot of the swing votes….and why is the party platform anti gay anti abortion?

      1. Da, I will be brief, since this is not the thread’s subject. So, you say, if we would just get with the program and kill us some unborn chilluns, then we would win more elections! Hey, GREAT!

    3. I support legalization and always have. I don’t see this as conservative versus libtard. I dom’t understand why people try to label everything black and white, so to speak. There’s not a definitive line here.

    4. Dave the problem you run into is that marijuana is harmless. Its been proven. There are truckloads of empirical evidence to state this. People my age (26) know this. The cat isnout of the bag. People in my generation know that most of the trouble with pot has only to do with the fact that is been prohibited to begin with. We dont buy the reefer madness bullshit. I dont believe in fairy tales. Noone anywhere I have ever met had a valid anti-marijuana stance based in anythimg besides silly supersition and paranoia. If you identify yourself as republican than maybe you should wake up. If you are so sure youre right andnon the winning sign than consider how much you likely hate Obama and the fact that he won twice with no worries and furthermore the republicans have been putting forward awful candidates the past several elections and combine that with antiquated out of date boogie man stories and pseudo science making claims against marijuana that are simply not true and the long list of other social and fiscal issues republicans are absolutely clueless about and it seems to be pretty obvious if a change isnt made you guys’ future is shaky at best. Dont change if you dont want. But dont cry when you never win another election.

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