With the 2018 Congressional primary season approaching, you might be wondering where Rafael "Ted" Cruz (R-TX) stands on cannabis legalization. In short, the junior United States Senator from Texas is personally opposed to legalizing cannabis, but he has long maintained that marijuana reform should be left to the states to decide, and he has been a vocal supporter of upholding the decisions of voters from other states.
Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, his mother an American computer programmer and his father a Cuban immigrant, but the family soon moved to Texas and Cruz was raised in Houston. Cruz was elected to the Senate to represent Texas in 2012, after what The Washington Post called the biggest primary election upset of the year, and he has developed the reputation among his supporters of being a staunch defender of the Constitution.
Even though there are rumors that Cruz smoke marijuana in his youth, he has always held a zero-tolerance position when it comes to cannabis, and he often criticized the Obama Administration for not intervening to stop the implementation of marijuana legalization in the states where the citizens vote to allow either medicinal or recreational marijuana. In April of 2016, Cruz told radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt:
“When it comes to a question of legalizing marijuana, I don’t support legalizing marijuana. If it were on the ballot in the state of Texas, I would vote no. But I also believe that’s a legitimate question for the states to make a determination…I think it is appropriate for the federal government to recognize that the citizens of those states have made that decision, and one of the benefits of it, you know, using Brandeis’ terms of laboratories of democracy, is we can now watch and see what happens in Colorado and Washington State.”
However, he seems to be playing up his state's right's stance on the issue now as he faces Democrat Beto O'Rourke, who is openly supportive of ending marijuana prohibition, this November. Just this past May, Cruz said to reporters in San Antonio:
"I don’t support drug legalization. I think drug legalization ends up harming people. I think it particularly hurts young people. It traps them in addiction. I’ve always said that should be a question for the states. I think different states can resolve it differently. So in Texas — if we were voting on it in Texas — I would vote against legalizing it. But I think it’s the prerogative of Texans to make that decision, and I think another state like Colorado can make a very different decision."
Our Grade: C-
While it's clear that Cruz would rather maintain the status quo when it comes to prohibiting cannabis and keeping it illegal, it's commendable that he is voicing support to protect the decisions of states where citizens vote to legalize marijuana in some form.