U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, at the Western Conservative Summit 2013 in Denver. (Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)

If Ted Cruz wins the presidency, he will leave legal marijuana states alone

Cruz told The Denver Post he wouldn't vote in favor of legalization but that he would 'leave it to the states'

COLORADO SPRINGS — If elected president, Republican Ted Cruz said Saturday he would not interfere with Colorado’s legalization of marijuana.

In an one-on-one interview Saturday with The Denver Post, the Texas senator said he opposes legalization but declared that the U.S. Constitution allows “states to experiment.”

“I think on the question of marijuana legalization, we should leave it to the states,” Cruz said before addressing 6,000 GOP activists at the state GOP convention in Colorado Springs. “If it were me personally, voting on it in the state of Texas, I would vote against it.

“The people of Colorado have made a different decision. I respect that decision,” he continued. “And actually, it is an opportunity for the rest of the country to see what happens here in Colorado, what happens in Washington state, see the states implement the policies, and if it works well, other states may choose to follow. If it doesn’t work well other states may choose not to follow.”

Cruz declined to make a judgment about the first two years of legalization in Colorado. “I’m going to give that some time to let the facts and evidence play out and ultimately that will be a decision for the people of Colorado,” he said.

On the question of banking for the marijuana industry, Cruz said he hasn’t studied the issue and needed to learn more before taking a position.

The White House hopeful is visiting Colorado for the first time to compete for the state’s 37 national delegates. Cruz won 21 at seven congressional district conventions in the past week — a clean sweep — and is confident he can win a portion of the 13 statewide delegates awarded Saturday.

Still, Cruz said he is preparing for a “battle on the convention floor” in Cleveland with Donald Trump to “see who can earn a majority of the delegates.”

He called a contested convention a “very significant possibility” and called the 21 delegates he won in Colorado vital to his effort.

“If that happens I am confident we are going to win in Cleveland at a contested convention,” he said. “What we are seeing is, naturally, Republicans are uniting behind our campaign and once we do we are going to beat Hillary Clinton in November.”

His strategy reflects a shift from earlier in the campaign, when he expressed confidence in capturing the delegates needed to reach the 1,237 mark to win the party’s nomination.

Trump and Ohio Gov. John Kasich did not attend the state convention, sending surrogates in their place. Cruz suggested the reason Trump avoided making an appearance is “he was scared.

“They knew he wasn’t going to do well,” Cruz said. “He has lost now seven elections in a row in Colorado. And I think it is very likely when the delegates here vote it will become eight elections in a row. … Donald doesn’t handle losing well.”

Addressing other Colorado issues in interviews with local reporters, Cruz criticized Planned Parenthood even as he condemned the attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs.

“Anytime there is a shooting by a deranged killer our hearts are grieving,” he said. “That should never happen. And we need to do everything we can to prevent crimes of violence.”

Referencing his career as a prosecutor, he continued, “you’re never justified taking violence into your own hands.”

“Planned Parenthood this past year was caught on film in what appears to be a pattern of multiple felonies,” he continued, highlighting the disputed undercover video regarding fetal tissue. “It is unfortunate that the Obama Justice Department is so corrupt that they won’t investigate a political ally of the Democratic Party and enforce the laws fairly.”

Responding to the Animas River spill outside Durango last year, Cruz said it’s just another example of the problems at the EPA, which he said has strayed from “its core mission of clean air and clean water.”

“If you look at the tragic spill here, they are not even watching what they are doing and they are ending up causing massive environmental damage and there is no accountability,” Cruz said.

“If anyone in the private sector did what EPA did what they did, they’d be prosecuted,” he continued, sounding a popular GOP criticism. “We need to rein in the EPA and refocus it to what it’s supposed to be doing, which is protecting our environment and not making it harder for people who are struggling to provide for their families and have good high paying jobs.”

This story was first published on denverpost.com