In what is shaping up to be one of the dirtiest and muddiest campaigns of the season, the latest accusation to fly about Dr. Rand Paul in his run for the Senate in Kentucky is an unusual one. After some pathetically humorous stories about his college shenanigans were dragged out and failed to do any harm, Democrat Jack Conway accused Dr. Paul of not being sufficiently supportive of the War on Drugs.
A report from the Associated Press helped to muddy the waters substantially with a non-quote apparently summarized from an interview which suggested that Paul "said he is opposed to the legalization of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes."
In a development which was atypical when dealing with a Republican candidate, the reaction among Dr. Paul's strongest supporters to this revelation was very negative, with accusations of hypocrisy and selling out flying around the blogosphere. Unlike many more traditional Republicans, Paul has a strong following with libertarian-leaning activists in the Tea Party movement and groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus and they were rather shocked to hear that he had turned against their preference for calling off the drug war, marijuana legalization and and end to the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.
To his credit, after lambasting Paul on the drug issue, blogger Mike Meno had the good sense to contact the campaign and get a clarification on the issue. As it turns out, the AP report, which seems rather slanted towards Paul's opponent, misrepresented Paul's position substantially.
While Rand Paul doesn't necessarily favor legalization of marijuana or other drugs on a personal level, he believes that it is an issue in which the federal government should have no role. He supports letting states decide for themselves how they will deal with drugs and drug users, and ending the federal War on Drugs which has become notorious for its cost, ineffectiveness and civil rights abuses.