The 2016 presidential race could be the most consequential election to date for the cannabis industry. From candidates (finally) calling for an end to the war on drugs to those who think the federal government should shut down states’ legal medical and recreational industries, here’s a list of each candidate’s position on the national cannabis debate. Now, go vote!
Being the only candidate that could be called “pro-cannabis,” Sanders is a political voice that many pro-legalization Americans have waited their entire lives to hear. Senator Sanders favors federal legalization and considers the war on drugs to be a national travesty.
“I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs which has done an enormous amount of damage.” 2016 Democratic Presidential Debate, October 13, 2015
Clinton would stick close to the Obama administration’s “hands-off” policy concerning states and their cannabis laws. While she has stated that she would like to “wait and see” before taking a position on federal legalization, she also thinks cannabis should immediately be rescheduled from Schedule I to Schedule II to allow for federal medical research.
“I really believe it’s important that states like Colorado lead the way, so that we can learn what works and what doesn’t work. And I would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal decision made by the people of Colorado, and enforced by your elected officials, as to how you should be conducting this business that you have approved.” MSNBC, October 14, 2015
Kasich had been vehemently opposed to any form of legal cannabis, even for medical purposes. But he recently changed rhetorical course on the cannabis debate…slightly, saying that medical cannabis is something, “I think we can look at.” He has promised that he would roll back legalization efforts, both recreational and medical, if elected president.
“In my state and across this country, if I happened to be president, I would lead a significant campaign down at the grassroots level to stomp these drugs out of our country.” HughHewitt.com, April 21, 2015
Rubio thinks state-level cannabis legalization is something the federal government should stop. It is an issue he has been consistent on throughout his campaign, though he has not gone so far as to make specific threats or promises on the subject.
“I think, well, I think we need to enforce our federal laws. Now do states have a right to do what they want? They don’t agree with it, but they have their rights. But they don’t have a right to write federal policy as well.” Hugh Hewitt Radio Show, April 14, 2015
Cruz has the least clear position on the cannabis debate of all the candidates. He has said that he believes cannabis legalization is a state’s rights issue, but has vehemently criticized the Obama administration about its policy of letting the states experiment. Politics anyone?
“I don’t support drug legalization, but I do support the Constitution. I think individual states can choose to adopt it. So if Texas had it on the ballot, I’d vote against it, but I respect the authority of states to follow different policies.” Texas Tribune, March 24, 2015
Not surprisingly, Trump has changed his stance several times over the last 20 years on the cannabis debate. Most recently he has aligned himself with his middle-of-the-road colleagues by supporting medical cannabis, opposing federal legalization, and labeling the issue in general as a “state’s rights” conversation.
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.” Washington Post, October 29, 2015