GOP Candidates Split on Medical Marijuana

(published Sunday, Aug. 4, in the Nashua Telegraph)


The Aug. 14 candidate forum at Nashua City Hall gave voters a great opportunity to meet the four Republican candidates for Congress in the 2nd District.

Questions from the audience were submitted on index cards and read by moderator Gene Chandler.

Nashua resident Phillip Allen Coan was disappointed that his question was not selected, but he was fortunate that at least three of the four candidates proved to be very approachable as they mingled with voters following the event.

Armed with a digital audio recorder, Coan was able to ask all four candidates his two simple questions:

"Do you believe that marijuana has legitimate use as medicine? And do you believe that the federal government should continue interfering in states that have passed laws to protect seriously ill patients?"

Coan got the sort of answer he was hoping for from state Sen. Bob Clegg.

"Yes, I do believe that marijuana has legitimate medical effects, especially for cancer patients; I've actually seen it in some patients," Clegg told Coan.

"And no, I do not believe that the government should be infringing upon states' rights. If states want to allow certain medical procedures, then I think they should allow (them)."

Grant Bosse differed from Clegg on the question of medical marijuana, telling Coan: "It blocks pain, but there are other substances that block pain."

However, Bosse shared Clegg's view that states should be free to make their own laws without federal interference.

"I believe that marijuana and drug laws should be the states' purview, not the federal purview," he explained.

Jim Steiner's positions were much like Bosse's. He said he had not seen evidence that marijuana had legitimate medical uses, but he explained that in his view the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution restricts the federal government from infringing upon the states in such matters.

In contrast to her rivals, Jennifer Horn seemed uncomfortable with the question, looking to a campaign staffer for guidance before responding.

"No, I don't think that . . . no," she told Coan. "That's the answer to the first question, so you know the answer to the second."

When Coan tried to clarify his second question, he was cut off by the campaign staffer.

"This is not a debate," he interrupted, and the exchange was ended.

In fairness to Horn, this would not be the first time an overexuberant campaign adviser went overboard in trying to protect a first-time candidate from challenging questions.

Perhaps once Horn has time to consider the issue on its merits, she, too, will decide the federal government should stop interfering in the 12 states that have passed laws protecting seriously ill patients from arrest.

With three of four candidates in this race expressing support for a state's right to reform marijuana laws, one thing is clear: The ghost of Richard Nixon no longer mandates positions on marijuana policy to members of the Grand Old Party.

A recent poll shows that 56 percent of New Hampshire Republicans support medical marijuana reform, and it's nice to see an established Republican like Clegg step forward and say what he knows is the truth about marijuana as medicine.

Matt Simon
Executive Director
N.H. Coalition for Common Sense Marijuana Policy


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