Dialing in from Phoenix, where his wife Cindy is having an operation on her knee, John McCain held a conference call with bloggers this afternoon. Having learned the hard way that in order to ask a question, you need to press *1 as soon as possible, I was rewarded with the first question. With apologies to Radley Balko,
Should federal law supersede the will of the people in a given state when it comes to medical marijuana?
McCain's answer: "There is no convincing evidence" that medical marijuana relieves pain and suffering that cannot be relieved by prescriptions.
But what about referenda in California and New Mexico, I followed-up?
The will of the people can be wrong, McCain declared. Look at Iraq today. Look at North Korea 60 years ago. "I'll be glad to continue the discussion," he concluded, "but I'm not changing my opinion."
McCain's first answer is factually inaccurate, which I hope to elaborate on tonight. His second answer is more interesting, but suffice it to say that whenever you ignore the will of the people—which you sometimes need to do—you need a very compelling reason to do so.
Quote of the day: Bloggers who criticize John McCain but haven't come aboard his campaign bus, "remain attached to their couches and mattresses."
Update: Phil Klein notes that Rudy and Romney also oppose decriminalizing medical marijuana.
Update (2/23/08): Hendrik Hertzberg points out that
[u]nlike McCain, Obama and Clinton have at least promised to stop the feds from harassing medical marijuana patients and dispensaries in the dozen states whose laws permit marijuana to be used for medical purposes. But neither has given any indication of a willingness to rescue us from the larger disgrace of the drug war—the billions wasted, the millions harmed, the utter futility of it. On this point, hesitancy trumps hope, and expedience trumps experience.