Two: Marijuana. Though the Obama administration has rewarded sanctuary cities that choose to flout federal immigration law, the Obama Department of Justice has had a no-sanctuary approach to medical-marijuana dispensaries in states where voters have legalized medical use. In California, U.S. attorneys have gone to extremes, seizing assets without prosecuting dispensaries and suing landlords who aren't even distributing the drug.
In November, Washington and Colorado voted to legalize possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., opposed the Colorado measure, but he supports the Respect States' and Citizens' Rights Act of 2012, which would exempt states with medical or recreational marijuana laws from the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Is Coffman ahead of Obama?
The administration has announced no policy change. Talking to ABC on Friday, Obama reiterated his 2008 view that arresting recreational users should not be a priority and said he does not support legalizing marijuana "at this point."
Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell is not impressed. "The federal government rarely goes after individual users," he noted in a statement. "The real question is whether the Obama administration will try to prevent voter-approved marijuana sales systems from being enacted or if they will force individual users to buy marijuana from the black market, where much of the profits go to cartels and gangs that kill people." And: The executive branch should reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.
"We want to put away the bad guys," former California GOP Assembly leader Pat Nolan, who served time in federal prison and now works for the Prison Justice Fellowship, stressed, but the federal system no longer is limited to hard time for hard crimes. Still, Nolan sees more conservative support for sentencing reform on the state level than on Capitol Hill.
It's time for a change. Smart conservatives should fight for government that works and an end to laws that do not. Compassionate conservatives must stand against laws that are harder on small fish than career criminals. Fiscal conservatives should oppose the policies that burn dollars without promoting public safety. Constitutional conservatives should stand up for states' rights.
And young conservatives instinctively understand this.