Rand Paul: Let D.C. Legalize Marijuana, If Voters Want

Paul votes on Election Day at Briarwood Elementary School in Bowling Green. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — As District of Columbia voters are seemingly poised to approve a ballot item to allow cultivation and possession of small quantities of marijuana for personal use, the Republican in charge of a subpanel with D.C. oversight says home rule should prevail.  

"I think there should be a certain amount of discretion for both states and territories and the District, you know," Sen. Rand Paul said outside his polling place at an elementary school here. "I think really that when we set up our country, we intended that most crime or not crime, things that we determined to be crime or not crimes, was really intended to be determined by localities."  

The Kentucky Republican is the ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations, and the District of Columbia. The unique status of the District gives Congress broad powers to negate local policies, but on the pot question, Paul is strongly on the side of federalism.  

"I'm not for having the federal government get involved. I really haven't taken a stand on ... the actual legalization. I haven't really taken a stand on that, but I'm against the federal government telling them they can't," Paul said.  

It it isn't clear that Paul would have the D.C. subcommittee gavel in the event Republicans claim the six seats needed to take the Senate majority. In fact, he indicated shortly before weighing in on the marijuana issue that he had his sights set on a different subcommittee.  

“You know, I’m on Homeland Security, and there’s a chance I would be in charge of a subcommittee that would investigate government waste, so we will probably be excited about that. You know, there’s lots of waste in government. I can probably rattle off a thousand programs that we ought to eliminate,” Paul said.  

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