Speed Reads

Pot politics

Will a pro-marijuana candidate compete in 2016?

In a sign of the times, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on Monday signed into law a bill that would decriminalize possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana, making his state the 17th in the nation to do so. O'Malley, who is believed to be considering a White House bid, said in a statement that his decision was "an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health.”

Indeed, a vast majority does think our nation's drug laws are outdated. In a Pew survey released earlier this month, two-thirds of respondents said the government should focus more on providing drug treatment than prosecuting users. And support for legalizing marijuana — not just decriminalizing possession of small amounts of it — is rapidly on the rise.

Were O'Malley to run in 2016, he could try to tap into the support of that growing pro-pot bloc. He may not be alone: On the GOP side, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) supports decriminalizing pot, as does Texas Gov. Rick Perry. At this rate, it's not unthinkable that a mainstream candidate would make the nation's drug laws a central campaign issue in the next presidential election.

In other words, we're a long, long way from "I didn't inhale."