Legalizing pot 'a complicated issue,' Ford County GOP official says
Taking a stance that contradicts that taken by many fellow Republicans, state Sen. Jason Barickman (R-Bloomington) came out in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, according to a Dec. 6 report in Cannabis Business Times.
"The laws that are supported most widely by the public are those laws that have broad-based bipartisan support,” Barickman said in the CBT article. “So, as Republicans, I think we need to sit at this negotiating table. I think we need to demonstrate our willingness to be open minded on this issue.”
As The Ford County Record reported Dec. 20, Barickman’s unpopular stance garnered a roomful of opposition at a meeting last month of the Ford County Republican Central Committee.
Much of the opposition centered around the belief that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to harder substances, the Record noted.
Barickman’s stance raises a number of issues: whether to legalize crime and tax it to raise money for the state and whether recreational marijuana use pushes users to harder drugs, among others. It has even caused some to question whether the senator should be re-elected.
But Steve Pacey, district chair of the Ford County GOP committee, told the East Central Reporter that it was the issue was far too complicated to boil down in that manner.
“Having spent my entire professional career in the legal industry, I am aware that this is not a very simple issue,” Pacey told the East Central Reporter. “You’re looking for very simplistic answers to a very complicated question, and I have none.”
Still, Pacey offered statements to back up his analysis of the complexity of the issue, particularly whether criminal penalties for drug use are effective and the composition of today's crop of marijuana.
On legalizing versus criminalizing, Pacey said, “Over the last generation and a half, the so called war on drugs has not been very successful.”
On the danger of marijuana as being addictive or a gateway drug, Pacey said, "The THC content of marijuana these days is exponentially greater than what it was a generation ago.”
On whether to replace Barickman, Pacey said, “I’m a supporter of Sen. Barickman. I think he’s an excellent senator. I would not base whether I supported or liked someone based on one issue.”
On the ongoing dialogue about related policy, Pacey said, “I give credit to Sen. Barickman for at least being willing to raise some of the aspects of a complicated issue.”