This Thursday, August 6, Fox News will broadcast the first Republican presidential debate of the 2016 campaign season live from Cleveland, Ohio, and all eyes will be on Donald Trump, who's galvanized the public and the media with pronouncements about, among other things, illegal immigrants and narcotics.
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best,” Trump said when launching his campaign in June. “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
We don't know if Trump feels similar enmity for Coloradans in the legal marijuana industry. But no one will be surprised if the topic arises, especially given the number of times Fox News personality Sean Hannity has posed the question to presidential hopefuls, Trump included.
During at least two back-and-forths with Hannity, Trump has ripped Colorado's pot "experiment," albeit while defending voters' right to approve it. But he wasn't always so against such substances. Indeed, as documented by the Daily Beast, he once called for all drugs to be legalized.
Earlier this year at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando, as we've reported, Hannity asked a slew of GOP figures with presidential aspirations about Colorado and recreational marijuana. His exchange with Trump on the topic went like this:
Hannity: "Colorado, marijuana. Good or bad experiment?"
Trump: "I say it's bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it's bad. And I feel strongly about that."
Hannity: "What about the state's right aspect of it, if the people of Colorado decide."
Trump: "If they vote for it, they vote for it. But they've got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado — some big, big problems. But medical marijuana, 100 percent."
Here's the video of their conversation:
Early in another session with Hannity, Trump came out even more strongly against legal recreational marijuana in Colorado.
"Some really bad things are coming out in Colorado in respect to people. So I would have to look at that very, very carefully," he said.
At that point, Hannity tried to change the subject — but Trump had more to say about Colorado cannabis.
"A lot of bad information is coming," he maintained. "People were all in favor of it and now, all of a sudden, they're saying it's having tremendously damaging effects to the mind, to the brain, to everything. So it's a big problem."
Here's that segment. The marijuana portion of the chat kicks in just past the twenty-second mark.
Trump didn't always feel this way. The aforementioned Daily Beast piece notes that during an April 1990 luncheon sponsored by the Miami Herald, he called U.S. drug enforcement policy "a joke" and told those in attendance that "we’re losing badly the war on drugs. You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.”
Contributing to the problem, he added, were politicians who "don't have any guts" to reverse course.
These days, Trump's rhetoric about gutless pols is much the same as it was a quarter-century ago. But he's certainly changed his tune about marijuana, and drugs in general. Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.