It's a sad day when Donald Trump looks progressive on any issue, let alone medical marijuana, which has proven to be useful in treating conditions such as epilepsy and Crohn's disease. But delegates deciding Republican Party policy disagree. Marijuana didn't make the cut when the Republican National Convention's Platform Committee drafted party policy yesterday in Cleveland.
While campaigning in the primaries, The Donald was outspokenly supportive of medical marijuana and letting states decide the legality of recreational cannabis use.
"I think [legalization] certainly has to be...a state decision," he told WWJ Newsradio 950 last March. "There seems to be certain health problems with it, and that would be certainly bothersome. I do like it... from a medical standpoint - it does do pretty good things. But from the other standpoint, I think that should be up to the states. Certainly, from a medical standpoint, a lot of people are liking it."
Some people in the Republican Party think the same way, but they were outvoted yesterday.
The marijuana plank
The proposal to include marijuana reform in the party's platform was pitched by Eric Brakey - a state senator from Maine, which will vote on legalizing recreational marijuana use via ballot measure this fall. But Brakey's plank focused on medicinal cannabis use. "We're not talking about Cheech and Chong being encouraged here," he said during the RNC meeting.
Brakey met strong opposition from others who insisted that marijuana use was linked to the nation's opioid epidemic. So the gateway drug theory is an unofficial plank in the party's platform. Linking opioid abuse to cannabis use is becoming increasingly ironic since marijuana is arguably a safer alternative to prescription pills that can lead to addiction. And cannabis could actually help people overcome their dependence on drugs like heroin and oxycodone.
However, the most absurd moment during yesterday's cannabis discussion came when delegate Noël Irwin Hentschel - CEO of the travel business AmericanTours International - claimed that broken homes and cannabis led to mass murder. "All the mass killings that are taking place, they are young boys from divorced families and they are smoking marijuana," she said at the meeting.
The party didn't adopt a plank against divorce. But the draft platform does call for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court decision that threw out the ban on same-sex marriage. They also adopted an amendment that calls internet pornography a "public health crisis."
Does the platform matter?
As with the Democratic Party's platform, the GOP's official policy does not bind candidates to the party line. It won't likely change the tone or message of the Trump campaign, which was not heavily engaged in yesterday's meeting. And given Donald's tendency to go off script, it's unlikely that he'll change his views to suit the Republican platform.
However, platforms do matter. They give us a snapshot of the party at a given time in history. And they provide a glimpse into what sorts of issues can unite their base.
"The coalitions [of party members] come up with this written statement, and that is useful to figuring out what all these folks can agree on together," Jennifer Victor - a political scientist at George Mason University - told Vox. "We're really looking at the party written on paper."
So the anti-marijuana stance offers us a snapshot of the GOP and their base in 2016. However, that doesn't mean all Republicans are anti-marijuana. In fact, the activist group called RAMP - Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition - is working hard to change minds about cannabis. Check out who they are and what talking points they use to discuss cannabis with conservative voters.
Banner image: HOUSTON - FEBRUARY 25, 2016: Donald Trump speaks to the media after the Republican National Committee debate. (uplift_the_world / Shutterstock.com)