Ever wonder how to bring up marijuana with your conservative friends, family or coworkers? You're in luck because there's an activist group that specializes in getting that sort of discussion started. RAMP (Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition) is dedicated to persuading people to rethink their position on cannabis.
We reached out to Hunter White - RAMP's Communications Director - to find out how he broaches the controversial topic. Here are five talking points that he says will resonate with conservative Americans.
1. Individual freedom
Whether you're talking to Republicans, libertarian independents, or conservative Democrats, the issue of personal liberty will likely make an appealing case for marijuana legalization. As White says, "There is nothing more restrictive than the government telling you what you can and can't put into your body, what medicine you can and can't take. It doesn't make sense to say we believe in your ability to choose, but then say you can't decide what medicine to take or what vice you like."
2. Individual responsibility
Along with the freedom to choose, conservative Americans generally embrace the freedom to take responsibility for their own actions, which means deciding what is right for them instead of letting the government tell them what they can and can't do. "[W]e shouldn't support a system that basically treats people as children - that lets a nanny state decide if you are able to control your life and what you do," White argues. "It should be up to the individual because they are responsible for their lives, not some bureaucrat."
3. Free-market capitalism
Republicans and anyone else who favors the free market should definitely support legalization, says White. "It makes sense to legalize recreationally because there is a massive industry building in the legal states around marijuana. That's all free market. If the Republican Party is going to be the party of free market, we need to lift this government-imposed black market and let the spirit of entrepreneurship guide the new market that creates billions in personal revenue, generates tax revenue and creates jobs."
4. Fiscal conservatism
Along with generating jobs, taxes revenue and wealth, legalizing marijuana would also put a stop to wasting trillions of taxpayer dollars on the failed War on Drugs. "The drug war is expensive," notes White, "and we don't get much more than broken lives to show for it. It doesn't make sense to keep spending billions on incarcerating Americans for no reason - for no real societal benefit if the only thing we get is broken lives and broken dreams. We need to stop spending that money and put it towards better uses so that the taxpayer isn't footing the bill and we can chip away at the huge deficit."
5. Right to life
White argues that pro-lifers should definitely get onboard with legalization. "[T]hey should be in favour of legalizing marijuana at the very least medically because people who are pro-life think that all life is sacred and we must do all we can to promote and preserve it. It doesn't make sense to be pro-life and not support medicine that will stop a child from dying and give them a better quality of life. It doesn't make sense to say their life is sacred while making it a living hell."
So if your conservative friends and family support life, individual liberty and the free market, they should also support marijuana legalization.