Paul believes that the decision for legalization should lie in the hands of individual states.
“The issue is not whether one supports medical marijuana or not. The issue is whether Washington decides or local voters decide… Those who favor strict drug laws should understand that federal preemption is a double-edged sword. For example, if a socially conservative state like Utah wanted to enact harsh drug policies to reflect its community standards, federal law could actually prevent the enactment of such policies. When the American people give up state and local authority over any issue, whether its marijuana, abortion, or gun control, they give up most of their power to affect policy.”
May 27, 2003, The Federal Government Bully in State and Local Elections, Ron Paul
“I would get the government out of regulating all those substances and I will allow the states to deal with the problems whether children should have them, whether children can buy cigarettes and alcohol, or hard drugs, marijuana. And different states would probably do differing things
The first federal law against marijuana was 1938 and they did it through high taxation because they knew they didn’t have authority to say you’re not allowed to smoke marijuana.
Today it’s gone berserk. The federal government comes in and overrules a state (sic) has legalized marijuana to be used by very sick people, AIDS and cancer, and they’re getting some help. The Federal government comes in and puts people in prison that are sick, because they’re using for medical reason and they’ve never committed a violent crime. That’s how absurd the war on drugs has become.”
Dec. 10, 2007, Ron Paul in an interview with John Stossel, ABC 20/20
Paul, alongside Democrat Barney Frank, co-sponsored the House Bill H.R.2306 (Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011), which sought “to limit the application of Federal laws to the distribution and consumption of marihuana, and for other purposes.”
The bill, tabled on June 23, 2011, aims to return marijuana back to its pre-1938 status, is currently with the House subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
“Well, removing it from the jurisdiction of the federal government and allowing the states to regulate it, like they would alcohol. And this seems to be strange for a lot of people, but I’m only going back to 1937 when that’s the way it was handled. The states always did this, and I’m motivated strongly also because the states legalize it for the use of medicinal purposes and it is helpful to people who have cancer or are getting chemotherapy. So this is not a huge radical idea, it’s something that was legal for a long, long time. And the war against marijuana causes so much hardship and accomplishes nothing. So I would say that marijuana, as far as causing highway problems, is miniscule compared to alcohol, and yet we knew prohibition of alcohol was very bad. So this is just getting back to a sensible position on how we handle difficult problems. And, for me, it should be the states…
I’ve never used the word heroine in my life when I talked about legalizing freedom of choice. And that one, too, was once legal and I concluded that argument and they sort of got the point when I said when they were making a big deal, your freedom philosophy means somebody could use heroine. I said, “You know, if tomorrow we legalize, how many of you in this audience would you heroine? Of course, nobody would.” So it’s a moot point, it’s how you regulate things and whether or not this trillion dollars we spend on the war on drugs … really since the early 1970s, the modern day war on drugs started with Richard Nixon and it’s a catastrophe, just as the prohibition was a catastrophe. So yes, they’re regulations for children and the way the states want to handle it. But, you know, it’s sort of like saying, “I believe in the first amendment”, and they say, “Oh, that means you’re pro-pornography”, or something like that. It’s ridiculous. Permitting something to happen does not mean that you authorize it or endorse it, it’s not an endorsement of what people do.”