For Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump marijuana legalization is something they can actually agree upon. Jill Stein and Gary Johnson make up this gang of 4, unanimous in their agreement.
A whopping 89% of Americans think medical marijuana should be legalized for adult use. And the advocates of medical marijuana are hopeful that this overwhelming majority will be enough to see a federal bill passed in the not-too-distant future, legalizing the use of medical marijuana in all 50 states.
The bill is called the CARERS Act, which stands for Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States, and it would change the classification of marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II Drug. It was proposed by Senate Democrats in March 2015, and it is currently being stalled in the US Senate’s Judiciary Committee by a ranking Republican, the aptly named Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa.
So, with this bill as a backdrop, it goes without saying that medical marijuana will be something of a hot-button topic as the Presidential debates edge ever closer.
Red vs. Blue: Debating the Green
You might think that a Republican and a Democrat would hold opposing views on such a traditionally divisive and polarizing issue. The typically liberal view of legalizing marijuana is often met head on by the conservative stance on drug control.
And with each party now ready to go full steam ahead into election mode, we expect to see this issue raised more than once.
The nominees have been chosen, and they have their running mates in place, so we thought it would be beneficial to take a brief look at the views held by Trump and Clinton, and others, regarding the legalization of marijuana.
Hillary Clinton’s Views on Marijuana
Hillary Clinton has previously stated that, if she becomes President of the United States, she will make it possible to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. As it stands, cannabis is joined in the first category by drugs such as Heroin, Ecstasy, and LSD, all of which are deemed unsafe, dangerous, and illegal by the DEA.
Clinton, however, acknowledges that marijuana has a place in treating certain medical conditions and relieving pain. She is therefore on record as being 100 percent in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical use.
That being said, it should be noted that she is also on record as being somewhat hesitant towards full-blown legalization, suggesting that more research and scientific proof are required.
She has said that she will watch states such as Colorado – which legalized medical marijuana in 2000 and passed Amendment 64 to end marijuana prohibition in 2012 – to better understand if the law is working, and to what extent.
To that end, the Marijuana Policy Project has graded Hillary Clinton’s stance on marijuana legalization as a B+. They recognize that the Democratic nominee for President is in favor of legalization, but not without a great deal more research.
Donald Trump Marijuana Legalization Views
He plans to build a wall. He wants to stop the drugs coming in. He says he’ll solve all the problems. And while he hasn’t exactly been explicit in his plans, Donald Trump has joined Hillary Clinton in support of legalizing marijuana.
In fact, he is on record as being in favor of legalization as far back as the 1990s, long before he was even hinting at becoming a politician.
Though his views are a bit more nuanced; for Donald Trump marijuana is good… and bad. He is purported to understand that medical marijuana laws have been beneficial to some individuals with serious health problems. Yet, as the election looms large on the horizon, he has been quoted as saying that legalizing marijuana should be approached with caution. He said, “In some ways, I think it’s good, and in other ways, it’s bad.”
He’s perhaps treading the political middle ground with a statement like that, but he has joined Clinton in wishing to see more research regarding its long-term effects, particularly in relation to medical issues. The Marijuana Policy Project has therefore graded Donald Trump’s stance as a C+ due to a lack of a clear and coherent policy. It’s safe to say there won’t be a Donald Trump marijuana dispensary in the near future.
The Other Candidates
The Green Party’s Presidential nominee, Jill Stein, is of the opinion that substance abuse should be treated as a health problem and not a criminal offense, that the war on drugs should end, and that marijuana and hemp should be legalized.
This is a position shared by the Libertarian Party and its nominee for President, Gary Johnson. He opposes the criminalization of consensual adult activities and would seek to repeal all laws that create crimes without victims, such as the use of drugs for medicinal or recreational purposes.
Both Stein and Johnson received grades of A+ from the Marijuana Policy Project.
But Not Everyone Is In Agreement
Mike Pence, the man selected as the prospective Vice President by Donald Trump, does not look at marijuana at all favorably. In fact, his record ought to send chills down the spines of every American marijuana advocate.
As a member of Congress, Pence voted six times to maintain the federal government’s ability to interfere with any implementation of state medical marijuana laws. This included being able to raid and prosecute patients and providers who use and dispense marijuana in accordance with local policies.
Meanwhile, during a 2012 gubernatorial debate, he responded to a question about medical marijuana posed to him by a registered nurse by talking about methamphetamine, stating that he opposed decriminalizing cannabis as it was, in his view, a gateway drug.
But Pence’s appointment as VP may not have the same far-reaching ramifications as Trump’s rumored pick for Attorney General. If it is indeed New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who lands that role, then many are concerned that a full-scale reversal of the Obama administration’s approach to marijuana laws could take place.
Christie was one of a small number of Presidential candidates on either side who claimed that, if he was elected to the top job, he would enforce federal prohibition, which would even take effect in states where marijuana is legal.
What Will the Future Bring?
On the morning of Wednesday, November 9, 2016, after the ballots are cast and the dust has settled, the United States of America will have a new President.
Many existing medical marijuana users in states across the country will look on with bated breath, no doubt waiting to see who will be moving into the Oval Office and what sort of policy they will seek to enact with regard to the legalization of cannabis.
Which candidate’s views on marijuana resonate with you the most? Will this be a consideration for you when the time comes to cast your ballot? Do you think the Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump marijuana stance is progressive? Let us know in the comments.