Audio: Congressman Kevin Cramer Says He’s Open to Leaving Marijuana Legalization up to the States

Rep. Kevin Cramer answers questions from the Grand Forks Herald editorial board. (Joshua Komer/Grand Forks Herald)

North Dakotans are taking steps toward legalizing marijuana.

Last year voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana. After some tweaking by lawmakers earlier this year, state officials are in the process of implementing it. Now another ballot measure submitted to the Secretary of State this week would remove the criminalization of marijuana from the state’s statutes entirely.

But there is a complicating factor in all of this: In the eyes of the federal government marijuana remains an illegal drug in the same classification as narcotics like heroin. It’s difficult to implement policy legalizing marijuana at the state level when we must rely on the forbearance of the federal government when it comes to enforcing their on-going prohibition.

“Philosophically I don’t have a problem with states making that determination,” he said, though he added that he’d be “disappointed” if North Dakota voters legalized marijuana.

Which is why I asked Rep. Kevin Cramer about this issue during his regular open phones segment on my radio show yesterday.

To be clear, Cramer is not in favor of legalizing marijuana. “I’m such a prude, if I could I’d role it back so we couldn’t have booze,” he told me. But that doesn’t mean he’s against changing federal law so that the various states can figure out how they want to handle marijuana on their own.

Calling current federal law “clumsy,” he said it may be time to “leave it up to the states.”

“Philosophically I don’t have a problem with states making that determination,” he said, though he added that he’d be “disappointed” if North Dakota voters legalized marijuana.

Cramer also talked about tax reform. He said the prospects of Congress passing something are “looking awfully good.” He said the Senate is “improving some things,” but was against proposals creating a “guardrail” for tax reform’s impacts on the debt and deficit.

That sort of proposal would automatically kick in tax hikes if federal revenues don’t hit certain goals. Cramer said that sort of policy would only add uncertainty to the tax code.

Here’s the full audio of the segment:

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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