John Lyon of the Arkansas News Bureau highlights the emerging difference between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party on marijuana.

The Democratic Party supports a “responsible medical marijuana program” (while not specifically endorsing either of two measures currently headed to the ballot). The Republican Party opposes “decriminalization of dangerous drugs, including marijuana.” Gov. Asa Hutchinson has explicitly opposed the two ballot measures.

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Democratic Senate candidate Conner Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor, takes the Democratic Party platform view. Incumbent Republican Sen. John Boozman wraps himself in the arms of the Arkansas Farm Bureau and the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce in opposing any easing of restrictions on marijuana.

(If a better measure of how to vote exists than the positions of those self-interested lobbies, I can’t imagine it. I’m betting they’re muscling against marijuana to win religion lobby support for their corporate welfare amendment that restores the flow of tax dollars to fat-cat lobbyists who work against things like easing the pain of desperately sick people with marijuana or providing help for injured workers or protection for tortured animals.)

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Thousands of words will be written about the fine points of the regulatory structure provided in the competing medical marijuana measures.

I prefer to view the two ballot initiatives in the light by which some of the staunchest opponents place them — as beginning steps toward legalization. I just don’t happen to believe that’s a bad thing.

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If beer, wine and spirits may be legally sold and consumed, so it should be with marijuana, a safer substance less prone to abuse and demonstrably beneficial to people with great medical needs.

I’d prefer simple decriminalization, but I’ll take either option currently on offer.