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The Tea Party's weed problem

Tea Party activists disagree over plenty of issues, says Chris Good at The Atlantic, but the one most likely to divide them is the legalization of pot

"Tea Partiers don't agree on everything," says Chris Good at The Atlantic. In fact, this hodgepodge movement encompassing everything from libertarians to hard-core social conservatives disagrees about quite a lot. So far, though, one potential fissure has been overlooked — "legalization of marijuana." This issue has the potential to become divisive as the debate over decriminalizing pot gains steam, with several states voting on medical-marijuana ballot initiatives and Californians weighing outright legalization. Here, an excerpt:

Marijuana seems like as good an issue as any to bring [the Tea Party's ] ideological poles into conflict. Libertarians support looser drug laws as an expression of their most basic principle — less government involvement in private lives; social conservatives and traditionalists [meanwhile] react viscerally to drug legalization as a descent into societal depravity. In broad terms, libertarians and social conservatives couldn't see marijuana more differently. ...

On top of that, marijuana is becoming a states' rights issue. The Obama administration has enacted a policy of deference to state policies on medical marijuana, and if California's Prop. 19 passes in 2010, or if a similar measure passes in California or elsewhere in 2012, the subsequent Obama/Holder decision over what to do about it will inevitably call into question whether the federal government should (constitutionally, it certainly can) supersede the decision of state voters.

Read the full article at The Atlantic.

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