Conservative California Rep. McClintock Looks to Ease Federal Marijuana Laws

marijuana leaf in sunlight

Despite the fact that Rep. Tom McClintock does not approve of marijuana use, he is working to change federal marijuana laws for the better.

He claims to see “clear evidence” that marijuana can result in neurological problems in children. He’s also a reliable Republican who votes conservatively in Congress.

But he consistently has called for federal easing on cannabis restrictions.

Dale Gieringer, California NORML director, said, “He [McClintock] has the best record on the marijuana issue of any Republican congressman in California.”

“He’s pretty unique. He’s a pretty conservative Republican and conservative Republicans tend not to be the best friends of cannabis reform,” explained John Hudak, a senior fellow in governance studies at the nonpartisan Brookings Institution and the author of “Marijuana: A Short History.”

In 2021, McClintock joined forces with liberal Reps. Barbara Lee and Earl Blumenauer to sponsor a measure that would withhold money that would enforce federal laws against marijuana activity that a state has legalized. The proposal will receive considerations from the House once it returns next month.

Besides this, McClintock has long been an opponent of most federal restrictions on cannabis. During his campaign for governor in 2003, he was questioned about the state’s 1996 Proposition 215, which passed the legalization of medical marijuana.

“The people of California spoke clearly on that subject. The federal government has no right to intervene,” he explained. Federal laws on the drug have been stricter than state law.

Some of McClintock’s views are derived from a libertarian standpoint, holding the belief that people should be able to do as they like as long as they don’t pose a threat to others.

Another component of his philosophy is practicality. At this point, the current laws do not work.

McClintock believes that the current laws are usually ineffective and counterproductive.

“Personally, I believe cannabis use in most cases is ill-advised. But many things are ill-advised that should not be illegal, but rather be left to the informed judgement of free men and women.”

Once, there was a deputy sheriff who said that if he were to give two high school students each a $20 bill and send one to purchase cannabis and the other to purchase alcohol, the one seeking cannabis would obtain the product first. McClintock highlights this idea in a statement.

“They know where to get it and the dealer’s entire business is built on ignoring the law. The youth sent to buy alcohol would visit one liquor store after another, get carded, and get thrown out – precisely because the dealer’s entire business depends on obeying the law,” McClintock explained.

He argues sensible state regulations and enforcement are essential.

“I believe very firmly that treating marijuana in a regulated, legal environment is a far more effective way of keeping it out of the hands of young people and it is a far more effective way of (stopping) the crime we see right now,” he said. “We don’t have a problem with lettuce growers. We don’t have a problem with rice growers.”

Thus, McClintock continues to push for federal restriction easement. While a federal change will happen to liberalize or legalize marijuana, McClintock and other politicians pushing for change still have a lot to figure out to make it happen.

Louis Levey is the Content Success Manager and Founder at No Strings Content. He's passionate about helping cannabis businesses use content to attract, educate, and convert audiences. His hometown is Boca Raton, Florida, but he currently lives and works remotely in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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