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County Republicans Say, “Legalize Marijuana”

It’s called a non-binding resolution – a way for party officials to express their wishes without actually having the force of law. These resolutions aren’t without force though; they are passed up the chain of command and eventually, after more votes, become the planks in the party platform.

Blaine County Republicans made the news when they voted yes on a pro-marijuana resolution, there were only two members against it. This is surprising in what is shaping up nationally as a conservative, law-and-order issue.

The language of the resolution states:
“"the failed prohibition of marijuana has exhausted billions of dollars spent on ineffective or incomplete enforcement. The Blaine County GOP believes that the time has come to amend criminal prohibition and replace it with a system of legalization and education."

Interestingly, this framing – away from crime and toward economics – reflects a libertarian stance of allowing more personal freedoms, including the freedom to use drugs. Further, the resolution deals with full legalization (to the level of alcohol) instead of the position with less controversy, that of partial legalization for medical use. The medical marijuana movement relies on humanitarian and healthcare grounds, while full legalization leans more toward a “right to make personal choices” stance.

Blaine County, the political unit involved in the vote, isn’t a mover and shaker on a population basis, the largest city is Hailey and a almost a third of the county is in the Sawtooth National Forrest. But in a state that doesn’t yet have legal medical marijuana, and coming from a party that has voted consistently against cannabis issues, it still got attention.

The next step will be to see whether or not state legislation is introduced or whether the resolution dies without gaining any further support. The current Republican platform doesn’t have anything on marijuana, so how it will be handled is an open question.

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