Marijuana Emerges as Issue That Blurs Conservative, Liberal Lines

The debate over legalizing marijuana for medical and even recreational purposes is blurring conservative and liberal lines.

With polls showing a slight majority of Americans now supporting the legalization of the drug, especially younger voters, and billionaire campaign financiers such as George Soros funding the pro-pot movement, a number of candidates are finding themselves at odds with their own party’s positions.

Ari Fleischer, a White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, called marijuana “a sleeper issue,” in the upcoming campaign and noted its trickiness, telling The Wall Street Journal, “All of a sudden the ground is shifting, and it’s uncomfortable and complicated. Marijuana has become an issue that candidates have got to pay attention to.”

Attention is on Maryland, where the state House of Delegates voted April 5 to decriminalize possession of small amounts of pot. That leaves Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, the onetime tough-on-crime mayor of Baltimore, with a difficult decision.

O’Malley has said he is “not much in favor” of legalizing marijuana for recreational use, and called the drug “a gateway to even more harmful behavior,” according to The Washington Post.