Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Wednesday lashed out at a reporter who asked him tough questions about same sex marriage, immigration and marijuana.
"Aren't there issues of significance that you'd like to talk about?" Romney quipped to CBS 4 reporter Shaun Boyd. "The economy -- the economy -- the economy, the growth of jobs, the need to put people back to work. The challenges of Iran. We've got enormous issues that we face. But, go ahead. You want to talk about medical marijuana."
"I think marijuana should not be legal in this country," the former Massachusetts governor opined. "I believe it's a gateway drug to other drug violations. The use of illegal drugs in this country is leading to terrible consequences in places like Mexico and actually in our own country. I oppose legalization of marijuana. I oppose legalization of other kinds of drugs."
Research has repeatedly shown that the so-called "gateway effect" of marijuana is negligible.
A 2010 study from the University of New Hampshire found that the use of harder illicit drugs had more to do with life factors like stress and employment status. Young people who had diminished stress over employment were less likely to use marijuana and other illegal drugs.
"Employment in young adulthood can protect people by 'closing' the marijuana gateway, so over-criminalizing youth marijuana use might create more serious problems if it interferes with later employment opportunities," study author Karen Van Gundy explained.
The problem with the "gateway effect" theory is that "correlation isn’t cause," Time's Maia Szalavitz wrote in 2012.
"Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang members are probably more [than] 104 times more likely to have ridden a bicycle as a kid than those who don’t become Hell’s Angels, but that doesn’t mean that riding a two-wheeler is a 'gateway' to joining a motorcycle gang," she noted. "It simply means that most people ride bikes and the kind of people who don’t are highly unlikely to ever ride a motorcycle."
Romney also repeated his position that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
"My position on gay marriage is the same that it's been, well, from the beginning. And that is marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman," he said. "That the posture I had as governor and I have that today."
"If a civil union is identical to marriage other than with the name, why, I don't support that," he continued. "But I certainly recognize that hospital visitation rights and benefits of that nature may well be appropriate and states are able to make a provision for a determination for those kinds of rights as well as benefits that might accrue to state workers. My position is the same that it's been from the beginning, which is that I don't favor a civil union if it's identical to marriage. And I don't favor marriage between people of the same gender."
"I know people have differing views," Romney admitted at an event in Oklahoma on Wednesday after President Barack Obama announce his support for marriage equality. "This is a very tender and sensitive topic, as are many social issues."
The candidate also told Boyd that he was against states creating lower in-state tuition rates for children who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents.
"No. My view is that to receive in-state college tuition, a person should be a legal resident of the United States," he said.
Colorado is considering a measure that would allow undocumented students to pay a special in-state tuition rate that is lower that out-of-state tuition but higher that in-state rates for legal residents.
(h/t: Talking Points Memo)