Sen. Tom Cotton did his semi-regular pow-wow with Roby Brock on Talk Business and Politics this morning. Not much meat to chew on, to be honest. Cotton talked foreign policy, gesturing vaguely toward a faith that Donald Trump’s diplomacy could improve simmering tensions with Russia and North Korea.

Advertisement

Chillingly, Cotton predicted that the single-minded warmonger John Bolton, Trump’s new appointee as national security advisor, “understands how to make the levers of power in Washington move” and “knows how to make things happen.”

Cotton also talked about the opioid crisis and his push to increase mandatory minimums for distributing fentanyl (though not in his bill, Cotton has also advocated for the death penalty for fentanyl dealers). There is no evidence that mandatory minimum sentences are actually effective at combatting a drug addiction crisis, but mass incarceration is itself an irresistible high for demagogues.

Advertisement

Brock asked Cotton about medical marijuana, which recent studies have shown could actually be an effective tool to stem the opioid crisis because of its potential as a pain reliever.

Cotton took the federalism tack, saying that states were experimenting with options about how to regulate marijuana. “I respect the decision that the voters of Arkansas have made,” he said. “It’s not my responsibility to implement that at the state level.” 

Advertisement

“I don’t think we should, in Congress, change the laws [to] decriminalize or even legalize marijuana,” Cotton said.

He noted that “Arkansans have only been willing to take the first step” — medical marijuana as opposed to full legalization. Which is true, of of course, so far. Though I wonder what would happen if a broader legalization hits the ballot a few cycles from now.

Asked specifically whether Congress should act on the medical marijuana front in order to give clarity to states like Arkansas, Cotton demurred:

The attorney general has announced that each individual u.s. attorney will have the discretion to apply the federal laws in their state based on their state laws. So I don’t anticipate the Department of Justice will take steps to interfere with states like Arkansas that have taken the somewhat modest, restrained step of adopting a medical marijuana program that is going to be very tightly regulated.

Now for those states that legalized and commercialized marijuana, I can’t speak to what will happen in those states. I think that would be an unwise step to take for Arkansas kids, families, and communities.