Many readers have been questioning the accuracy of an Associated Press article I blogged about recently claiming Kentucky GOP Senate candidate Rand Paul, who has defended the rights of states to pass medical marijuana laws, “is opposed to the legalization of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes.”
As a former reporter, I always strive for accuracy, so I just got off the phone with a representative of the Paul campaign in order to clarify the candidate’s position — which isn’t as simple as the AP made it out to be.
“Doctor Paul’s stance has not changed, and that is a case of sloppy reporting,” said Nena Bartlett, Paul’s assistant campaign manager. “His position is that it’s a states’ rights issue.”
However, when I asked Bartlett if Paul personally supports medical marijuana laws, and would, for example, vote for a bill protecting patients from arrest if he were a member of a state legislature, she demurred.
“I’m actually not positive that he’s taken that stance,” Bartlett said. “He just believes it should be left up to the states … I’m not sure if that’s a position he would take at this time. It’s a decision for doctors and patients at the local level.”
So there we have it. Rand Paul believes the federal government should not interfere in state medical marijuana laws. But he does not support such laws himself, at least not at this time. It was therefore inaccurate for the AP to say he “is opposed” to medical marijuana laws. (Though the Paul campaign will not say he’s “in favor” of them either.) I regret having helped to spread that misinformation, and want to apologize to our readers.
MPP’s blog — like nearly every other one online — relies almost entirely on outside news organizations to provide us with information that we then analyze and make entertaining for our readers. As this episode demonstrates, sometimes news outlets get it wrong—even ones as old and esteemed as the AP. With that in mind, I hope our readers will appreciate where we’re coming from, and understand that we will always do what’s in our power to promote accurate information — and correct something when it’s wrong.
As always, thanks for reading.