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79-Year Old Charleston Woman Grills Marco Rubio on Legalization

December 2, 2015

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio, who's currently polling 3rd but rapidly rising in the race to secure the party nomination, has been hitting the campaign trail in an effort to gain more voter support. What he probably didn't count on during his travels was to get grilled by a 79-year old woman on whether or not he supports legalizing cannabis, but that's exactly what happened in South Carolina this week.

On Tuesday, Rubio stopped by the College of Charleston to address a crowd of 350 people, and the elderly woman, Elease Pickens, took the opportunity to ask the presidential hopeful what his stance is on legalization. 

She told him, "[Legalization is] an issue with me because I know people can get drugs on every street corner in Charleston,” conceding that while her ideas don't typically align with "the normal Charleston 80-year-olds," she believes that taxing and regulating cannabis would both increase government revenue and reduce prison size. 

We got ahold of Ms. Pickens and asked her to, in her own Southern drawl-coated words, explain why she believes cannabis should be legalized: 

"Well, people who want marijuana can get it any time they want without it being taxed –although I don’t know how much they pay. I don’t use the drug myself, I don’t even drink. But people who want it should be able to buy it legally with it being taxed.

"Also, there are so many people in jail for marijuana and I don’t think it’s right that we’re using our taxpayer dollars on that. I think we ought to put the real criminals in jail. Marijuana isn’t nearly as harmful as alcohol. Marijuana doesn’t destroy your liver and doesn’t impair your thinking the way alcohol does, plus it has medicinal purposes. They say it’s good for helping you sleep and for pain. Probably a whole lot better for you than the synthetic drugs those doctors are always poking at you. 

"You know, we’ve got the same percentage of alcoholics now than we did during Prohibition, so you can see that prohibition doesn’t stop anything. This is a way to make a little money on the front end and save a little money on the back end." 

While Pickens' remarks were a big hit among the crowd of mostly students, Rubio remained undeterred and insisted that he doesn't support legalizing "another intoxicant" because "When you legalize something, it's sending a message that it's not that harmful." 

Yet, curiously, at the same stopover, Rubio told his audience that "The time has come for us to turn the page. We must update and modernize our government policies to address the challenges of the 21st century. We have a government that is both out of touch and outdated." 

Seems like Rubio would be wise to take his own words to heart, as 58% of Americans polled support the legal use of cannabis despite the federal government's outdated and unnecessary scheduling of the substance and its ever-losing battle to criminalize it. Isn't it about time we as a country "update and modernize" our cannabis policies to "address the challenges of the 21st century," Mr. Rubio? Because when compared to Canada's new swift pledge to outright legalize, our government is starting to, as you so eloquently put it, look "both out of touch and outdated."

As for which candidate has won Ms. Pickens' vote? She explained to Leafly, "Well, I’m an Independent voter, so I haven’t made up my mind who I will support. I will be watching the race closely and after the first of the year, I should know who I’ll be supporting."

Ms. Pickens, might we suggest you (and the rest of our readers) check out what the other 2016 presidential candidates think about legalization?

What Do the 2016 Presidential Candidates Think About Cannabis?

Image Soure (Cropped): Gage Skidmore via Flickr Creative Commons