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Marijuana is now a mainstream political issue, and all of the candidates in the 2016 presidential race have discussed it at length.

Here’s a roundup of what the contenders have said about cannabis policy, as well as what they’ve admitted about their own marijuana consumption.

This post will be updated as candidates continue to address the issue. All candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

Last updated on February 2, 2016.


Jeb Bush – Republican

The former Florida governor does not favor legalization, or even medical cannabis, but he does favor decriminalizing marijuana possession and supports letting states set their own marijuana laws without much federal interference.

Speaking at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Bush said legalizing marijuana is “a bad idea but states ought to have that right to do it.”

Previously, he told the Miami Herald that, “I think that states ought to have a right to decide these things. I think the federal government’s role in our lives is way too-overreaching. But having said that, if you’re in Colorado and you can purchase marijuana openly, should people in Wyoming not be concerned about that? And I think there, maybe, the federal law needs to be looked at — interstate commerce.”

At a debate hosted by CNN, he said, “What goes on in Colorado, as far as I’m concerned, that should be a state decision.”

Bush spoke out against a medical marijuana amendment that was on his state’s ballot. “Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” he said. “Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts. I believe it is the right of states to decide this issue, and I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November.”

But when questioned by a father of an epileptic child in Iowa, Bush said he would consider rescheduling cannabis if elected.

As governor, Bush opposed a proposed ballot initiative that would have given first- and second-time drug offenders access to treatment instead of incarceration, even as his daughter Noelle underwent highly-publicized legal consequences stemming from a series of drug possession arrests. Calling the measure “misleading,” he said it would “destroy” Florida’s drug court program. “To suggest there should be no penalties for continued drug use is to stick our heads in the sand,” he said.

“The neurological damage done by this high potent marijuana today is at best untested. At worst, will create huge disruptions in communities,” Bush said at a campaign stop in Iowa, adding that he thought legalization in Colorado has led to “increases in crime and lower productivity.”

During an appearance on WBZ NewsRadio in Boston, Bush said, “Marijuana is a gateway drug just as opiates are a gateway drug. Of course it is, every study shows that… The new heroin and the new marijuana are highly, highly toxic.”

But during the same interview he voiced support for removing criminal penalties for possession of marijuana. “It’s one thing to say we should have decriminalization of marijuana. I support that.” 

On his campaign website, Bush touts his record of cracking down on drugs as governor, including how he pushed for higher penalties and “brought together the state’s drug warriors” to better coordinate enforcement efforts.

But Bush has also increasingly discussed –in personal terms — the broad issue of drug addiction as requiring health solutions, not just criminal justice ones. “As a father, I have felt the heartbreak of drug abuse,” he wrote in a piece on Medium. “Some label the drug abuse epidemic just a criminal justice issue, and some try to make it just a health care issue. Both approaches oversimplify this complex and heartbreaking challenge. It is imperative to reduce both the demand and supply if treatment and recovery programs are going to work.” He also highlighted his daughter’s struggles in a campaign ad.

Bush himself has admitted to frequent marijuana use during his younger days, and is reported to even have sold hash on occasion. “I drank alcohol and I smoked marijuana” in high school, he said. “It was pretty common.” At the CNN debate, he said, “So, 40 years ago, I smoked marijuana, and I admit it. I’m sure that other people might have done it and may not want to say it in front of 25 million people. My mom’s not happy that I just did.”


Ben Carson – Republican

The retired neurosurgeon, who has never held elected office, says that marijuana has some medical value but opposes full legalization and would continue to enforce federal law even in states that have ended prohibition.

Carson told ABC News that legalization “should be completely off the table.” However, he added, “I have no problem with medical marijuana usage, and there are ways that it can be done that are very appropriate.”

Similarly, he told Fox News that, “I think medical use of marijuana in compassionate cases certainly has been proven to be useful.” But he went on to say that “marijuana is what’s known as a gateway drug. It tends to be a starter drug for people who move onto heavier duty drugs -– sometimes legal, sometimes illegal –- and I don’t think this is something that we really want for our society. You know, we’re gradually just removing all the barriers to hedonistic activity.”

Carson has suggested that as a doctor, he would consider advising patients to try medical cannabis. “Would I recommend medical marijuana? Absolutely,” he said at a campaign rally in Ohio. “I have no problem with medical marijuana. But that is very different from legalizing it for recreational use. I would not do that under any circumstances.”

At an event in Florida, Carson said, “Medical marijuana, when it’s done in the proper way and the proper form, can be very beneficial, particularly with patients with seizure disorders.”

Carson has called for the federal government to reclassify cannabis from its current Schedule I status. “Medical marijuana has proven its benefit and it should be rescheduled, there’s no question about that,” he said at an event in Iowa.

But Carson has also argued that marijuana use has long-term negative consequences. “We have known for a long time that people who engage in such activities can have flashbacks months and years after usage, that a lot of their abilities can be impaired at the time of use,” he told NewsMax TV. “So why would we throw into the mix something else that can impair people? We have enough impaired people already.”

On his campaign website, Carson claims marijuana is a gateway drug. “Growing up in poverty, I have seen the crippling effects drug addiction can have,” he said. “Gateway drugs, such as a marijuana, lead many down a road to harder illegal drugs, like heroin, that devastate the individual and the family. We must prioritize stopping the flow of illegal drugs into our neighborhoods and inner-city communities.”

When asked about the growing public support for legalization, Carson said it indicates that Americans are “much more interested in pleasure than we are in taking care of the severe business that faces us, and let’s look for ways to escape those things rather than actually face them… We’ve reached a point where, if it feels good, do it.”

Carson doesn’t think the federal government should let states implement legalization without interference. “Regular exposure to marijuana in the developing brain has been demonstrated definitively to result in decreased IQ. And the last thing we need is a bunch of people running around with decreased IQ,” he said at a press conference in Denver. “There are ways that you can create pills and ointments and things like that that are used for medicinal purposes while still enforcing federal law… [Yes I would enforce the federal drug laws in states such as Colorado] providing the use, the appropriate use of medical marijuana.”

Similarly, at a rally in Iowa City, Caron said, “Exposure to cannabis in a developing brain can cause significant damage, including drops in IQ. Now, we already have enough people with low IQs. So we don’t need to be cultivating that in our society right now. That’s craziness.”

In an interview with Glenn Beck, Carson also pledged to “intensify” the broader war on drugs.

On a personal note, Carson wrote in his book that, “Because of my love of God and my religious upbringing, I didn’t become involved in sex or drugs.” 


Chris Christie – Republican

While the New Jersey governor and former U.S. attorney did allow his state’s medical marijuana program to move forward in the face of federal threats, he has been widely criticized for slow-walking its implementation. And though Christie often calls the war on drugs a failure, he staunchly opposes legalization and says he would enforce federal laws in states that have ended prohibition.

He even went so far as to specifically criticize voters in Colorado — a key presidential swing state — for opting to enact legalization. “For the people who are enamored with the idea of the income, the tax revenue from this, go to Colorado and see if you want to live there,” he said on New Jersey 101.5’s “Ask the Governor” program. “See if you want to live in a major city in Colorado where there’s head shops popping up on every corner and people flying into your airport just to come and get high. To me, it’s just not the quality of life we want to have here in the state of New Jersey and there’s no tax revenue that’s worth that.”

When asked how he would treat states that legalize marijuana if elected president, he responded, “Probably not well.”

Christie said he will “crack down and not permit” state legalization in an appearance on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. “Marijuana is a gateway drug. We have an enormous addiction problem in this country. And we need to send very clear leadership from the White House on down through the federal law enforcement. Marijuana is an illegal drug under federal law. And the states should not be permitted to sell it and profit from it.”

During a town hall in New Hampshire, he said, “If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it until January 2017 because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana as president of the United States.”

Christie has criticized President Obama’s policy of  generally not interfering with state marijuana laws, alleging that he likely feels “guilt” over his own youthful use of the drug. At a New Hampshire forum on drug policy, Christie said that if Obama wants to end federal prohibition he should “go to Congress, stand in the well of the House in your State of the Union Address and say ‘I believe it’s time to legalize marijuana.’ This child of the ’60s who is in the White House is unable to absent himself from his own past use, and is unable to say no.”

At a debate sponsored by CNN, Christie said using marijuana isn’t a victimless crime. “Look at the decrease in productivity, look at the way people get used and move on to other drugs when they use marijuana as a gateway drug, it is not them that are the only victims. Their families are the victims too, their children are the victims too, and their employers are the victims also,” he said. “That’s why I’ll enforce the federal law, while you can still put an emphasis on rehabilitation, which we’ve done in New Jersey.”

At an appearance in Ottumwa, Iowa, Christie said letting states legalize marijuana “sends an awful message to our children, and an awful message of a lack of productivity in our economy when people can go to work in Colorado high.” Citing edibles and marijuana gummy bears, he added, “Kids are getting high in the Colorado schools as we speak… When I was in school, math and physics was hard enough when I was straight. If I was high there’d be no chance I’d be able to do it.”

Christie is not impressed by the tax revenues that legalization can generate. “To me, that’s blood money,” he said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a drug treatment center. “I’m not going to put the lives of children and citizens at risk to put a little more money into the state coffers, at least not on my watch.”

He also isn’t moved by the fact that marijuana reform is politically popular. “I don’t care quite frankly that people think it’s inevitable,” Christie said on the “Ask the Governor” program. “It’s not inevitable here. I’m not going to permit it. Never, as long as I’m governor. You want to elect somebody else who’s willing to legalize marijuana and expose our children to that gateway drug and the effects it has on their brain? You’ll have to live with yourself if you do that. But it’s not going to be this governor who does it.”

In another appearance on “Ask the Governor,” Christie claimed there is very little real demand for medical marijuana and that New Jersey’s program, which was signed into law by the previous governor, is “a front for legalization.”

But he has acknowledged that marijuana does have medical uses for some people, and has indicated he doesn’t think the federal government should interfere with state medical cannabis laws. “This is a decision on medical marijuana that I think needs to be made state-by-state,” Christie said during an appearance in Iowa. “I don’t want it used recreationally, but for medical purposes, it’s helpful for certain adult illness and certain pediatric illness. So where it’s helpful and when a doctor prescribes it, I have no problem with it.”

But in an exchange with a nurse in Iowa, Christie said he wouldn’t act to reschedule marijuana under federal law. “I cannot administratively fix that and I will not administratively fix it,” he said, even though the Controlled Substances Act does give the executive branch the power to reclassify marijuana without further Congressional action.”I am for limited medical use, not mandated by the federal government, but permissive by the federal government,” he added. And each state has a different point of view because each state is permitted to have a different point of view on this issue.”

Even though Christie isn’t a fan of broad marijuana reform, he has criticized the failure of the overall drug war on a number of occasions. “We will end the failed war on drugs that believes that incarceration is the cure of every ill caused by drug abuse,” he said during his second inaugural address as governor. “We will make drug treatment available to as many of our non-violent offenders as we can and we will partner with our citizens to create a society that understands that every life has value and no life is disposable.” During his 2016 State of the State address, he said, “Instead of prosecuting a failed war on drugs – a war on our own citizens – we’ve classified drug addiction as the illness it truly is, and worked to treat and rehabilitate some of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

When asked if he’s ever tried marijuana himself, he tweeted, “The answer is no.”


Hillary Clinton – Democrat

The former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady has said marijuana has medical value and that she wants to see states move forward with their own laws.

“I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes,” she told CNN. “I don’t think we’ve done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and who have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances.”

“On recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy. We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now,” she said. “I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”

During an appearance at Luther College in Iowa, Clinton was asked about the issue by a student and responded, “I would support states and localities that are experimenting with this.”

Similarly, in an interview with KUSA-TV, the NBC affiliate in Denver, she said “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. So, no, I want to give you the space and I want other states to learn from you, what works and what doesn’t work.”

Along the same lines, during an interview with WBZ radio in Boston, Clinton called it “appropriate” for states to move ahead with legalization, adding, “I think the federal government has to move to make this more available for research that we can then distribute to interested people across our country.”

On the other hand, Clinton told KPCC radio that, “I think the feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states, so there can’t be a total absence of law enforcement, but what I want to see, and I think we should be much more focused on this, is really doing good research so we know what it is we’re approving.”

To that end, Clinton has criticized federal barriers to research on the drug. There is “a lot of anecdotal evidence” that marijuana has medical benefits, she said, “but we have no [scientific]evidence because researchers can’t experiment with marijuana because it’s a controlled substance. We have people trying to help kids with cancer, we have people who deserve to have [access to medical cannabis]but we don’t know what interaction with other drugs, what right dosage are because can’t conduct research. If we’re going to pass medical marijuana, we have to allow research and try to get real science.”

She has also called for marijuana to be rescheduled under federal law, which would better facilitate such studies. “I would like to move it from what is called Schedule 1 to Schedule 2 so that researchers at universities, national institutes of health can start researching what is the best way to use it, how much of a dose does somebody need, how does it interact with other medications,” Clinton said at an appearance in South Carolina.

Her campaign has also listed her marijuana reform positions as one of “112 reasons (and counting!)” Clinton should be the next president. “She believes we should use alternatives to incarceration for low-level, nonviolent marijuana users, and she will reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance,” the campaign website says.

During her last presidential campaign, in 2007, she said, “I don’t think we should decriminalize it.”

But in the first Democratic presidential debate of this cycle, she said, “I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana,” adding that, “I do support the use of medical marijuana.”

Asked by a voter about industrial hemp, Clinton said, “I think we have to explore it. It’s a crop, right?” Similarly, in Iowa she said, “I think industrial hemp is something we should try out.”

In 2011, as secretary of state, Clinton responded to a question about whether legalization would reduce drug cartel violence by saying, “It is not likely to work. There is just too much money in it, and I don’t think that you can legalize small amounts for possession, but those who are making so much money selling, they have to be stopped. They can’t be given an even easier road to take, because they will then find it in their interest to addict even more young people. Mexico didn’t have much of a drug problem before the last 10 years, and you want to keep it that way. So you don’t want to give any excuse to the drug traffickers to be able legally to addict young people.”

On the broader drug war, Clinton boasted at a New Hampshire event about a drug interdiction program her husband’s administration launched, the centerpiece of which was spraying herbicides on coca crops in Colombia. “When my husband was president, as you remember, there was a war going on in Colombia by drug traffickers and insurgent rebels,” she said. “It was such a violent war that elected officials, business leaders, academics were being kidnapped, many of them murdered, others held for ransom. And we did something called Plan Colombia. Where we helped the government figure out how to secure their country from drug traffickers and rebels.”

But Clinton has also said that drug addiction is a health issue that shouldn’t be criminalized. “We have to move away from treating the use of drugs as a crime and instead, move it to where it belongs, as a health issue,” she said at a Democratic debate in South Carolina. “And we need to divert more people from the criminal justice system into drug courts, into treatment, and recovery.”

On a personal level, she said she’s “absolutely not” tried marijuana. “I didn’t do it when I was young. I’m not going to start now.”


Ted Cruz – Republican

The U.S. senator and former solicitor general of Texas isn’t a fan of legalization but supports the right of states to end prohibition without federal interference

“I actually think this is great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called ‘the laboratories of democracy,’ he said in a Q&A with Fox News host Sean Hannity at the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference. “If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”

When the topic came up in another interview with Hannity he said, “The Constitution answers a lot of questions.”

Similarly, after a rally in Des Moines, he told a voter that his view “on the question of medical marijuana has always been that it’s a question for the states. That if an individual state decides that they want to allow it, that’s a permissible decision and if a they decide they don’t want to allow it that’s a permissible decision. My view, as I said, is we should respect the rights of the states.”

However, he has also slammed President Obama for allowing states to pursue legalization with little federal interference. “The Obama administration’s approach to drug policy is to simply announce that across the country, it is gonna stop enforcing certain drug laws,” Cruz told Reason. “I think most disturbingly, watching President Obama’s approach to drug laws is that he hasn’t tried to start a discussion, a dialogue about changing the laws. He simply decreed he’s not gonna enforce laws he doesn’t agree with.”

Cruz pressed attorney general nominee Loretta Lynch with no fewer than 17 written questions about marijuana policy, including, “What steps will you take to require these states to cease and desist their support of the cultivation, distribution, and sale of marijuana, or to otherwise bring these states into compliance with existing federal controlled substance law?”

Cruz’s overall position seems to be that states should be allowed to legalize marijuana but, given current federal law, the presidential administration should continue to stand in the way of states that move forward. However, he hasn’t yet introduced or co-sponsored any legislation to bring federal law into line with his apparent view that the national ban on marijuana possession, cultivation and sales should be removed so states can set their own policies without interference. He hasn’t even co-sponsored a bipartisan bill that fellow presidential contender Rand Paul and others have introduced to stop federal raids on state-legal medical marijuana patients and providers.

But he continues to say that states should be able to legalize marijuana without federal interference when asked about the issue on the campaign trail.

As for Cruz’s own relationship with the drug, a spokesman said, “When he was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he’s never tried it since.”


Carly Fiorina – Republican

The former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, who has never held elected office, personally opposes ending prohibition but supports the right of states to legalize marijuana without federal interference. She has also made comments indicating she supports decriminalizing possession of all drugs.

“I respect Colorado’s right to do what they did. They are within their rights to legalize marijuana and they are conducting an experiment that I hope the rest of the nation is looking closely at,” she told the Des Moines Register. “I believe in states’ rights. I would not, as president of the United States, enforce federal law in Colorado where Colorado voters have said they want to legalize marijuana.”

Even though Fiorina opposes legalization, she admits that it would generate billions of dollars in new taxes. But for her, marijuana’s revenue generating potential is actually a reason to continue prohibition. “Sending billions of dollars in new tax revenues to Sacramento is exactly the problem,” she said in response to a question about Proposition 19, the California legalization initiative that narrowly failed in 2010. “We’ve seen over and over again that Sacramento as well as Washington, D.C. have a spending problem.”

Similarly, she said on KFAB-AM’s Chris Baker Show that, “We now have industries growing up, and I think actually the whole push to legalize…recreational marijuana is a push to increase tax revenue, and the one thing that government does not need is more revenue. What the federal government in particular needs is less revenue and we need to actually be able to cut money and move money… So I am against anything honestly that gives the federal government more money, or government in general more money.”

Fiorina seems to believe that using marijuana is more harmful than drinking alcohol. “While I generally support states’ rights I think we’re lying to kids when we tell them having a joint is like drinking a beer. It’s not,” she told Baker. “And the costs to our society are going to be large. Medicinal marijuana, I can support, as long as it’s regulated like a medicine.”

She told Yahoo News’s Katie Couric that she’s comfortable with the idea of marijuana having medicinal benefits but that it’s not “properly regulated” right now. “If we want to treat marijuana as a medicine, fine. Then regulate it as a medicine,” she said. “All you have to do is walk down Venice Beach. Anybody can get medicinal marijuana. It’s not a medicine. It’s a recreational drug right now.”

She has indicated that she does support decriminalization, though, and not just for marijuana. Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Fiorina included “decriminalizing drug addiction and drug use” in a list of reforms at the state level she supports. “We need to treat it appropriately, and when you look at the stats, it’s clear that a lot of what goes on in an inner city like Baltimore is sort of like an industry: you have a lot of young people who are getting access to drugs and then they’re getting arrested frequently,” she said. “It’s just a bad, bad cycle.”

Similarly, in an op-ed for TIME, she wrote, “We shouldn’t be criminalizing addiction. If you’re criminalizing drug abuse, you’re not treating it.”

At a personal level, Fiorina refused to even consider using medical cannabis when she was diagnosed with cancer. “I remember when I had cancer and my doctor said, ‘Do you have any interest in medicinal marijuana?'” she recalled. “I did not.”


Jim Gilmore – Republican

The former governor of Virginia, state attorney general and chairman of the Republican National Committee opposes legalization but has expressed openness to letting states legalize medical marijuana without federal raids.

“I’m not a legalization guy. I think that it’s not a substance, it’s a lifestyle, and a quality of life and approach that I’m afraid I can’t adhere to,” he told WMUR-TV. “I understand that some people are able to use marijuana in a recreational way and it probably doesn’t hurt society. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe we ought to be legalizing and putting the legitimacy of the state on to substance abuse. I just don’t believe in it.”

As governor, Gilmore pushed to increase drug arrests and seizures, saying in his 2001 State of the Commonwealth address that “illegal drugs are not an acceptable part of our society.”

In 2000, he endorsed a National Governors Association policy stating that, “The nation’s Governors believe illicit drug legalization is not a viable alternative, either as a philosophy or as a practical reality.”

Despite personally opposing legalization, Gilmore has hinted he opposes federal interference with state marijuana laws, at least when it comes to medical cannabis. During his brief campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, he said, “I think that that kind of approach has to be done under the law of the various states,” according to the Marijuana Policy Project. “If you have states that permit it, I would not expect to see a raid by anybody, but I don’t support it or approve of it.”

It is unclear whether Gilmore has ever used marijuana himself.


John Kasich – Republican

The governor of Ohio and former member of the U.S. House of Representatives and Fox News Channel host opposes legalization, but has expressed openness to letting states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference.

“I’m totally opposed to [legalization], because it is a scourge in this country,” Kasich said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show. “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. We’re doing it in Ohio in a variety of ways through education, prosecution, and it’s an unbelievably serious problem.”

In an appearance on WHIO-TV, Kasich said that Ohio would not legalize marijuana if it were up to him. “We’re not gonna do that if I have any say about it,” he said.

“You don’t want to legalize marijuana, because you don’t want to send a mixed message: ‘Don’t do drugs but, by the way, this drug’s OK,'” Kasich said at a New Hampshire event with teen substance abuse prevention advocates. “One of the perverse ideas about this is, ‘Well we can make money and have more money for budgets if we legalize it.’ That’s nuts to me, OK?”

At a debate hosted by CNBC, he said, “Sending mixed signals to kids about drugs is a disaster. Drugs is one of the greatest scourges in this country. I’ve spent five years of my administration working with my team to do a whole sort of things to try to rein in the problem of overdoses.”

Kasich appeared reluctant to even discuss the issue in an interview with attn:. “We don’t want to have a big debate about marijuana this or that because we have a giant problem in this country with drug addiction, and I don’t want to send a confusing message, particularly to people like my young daughters about, ‘some of this is right and some of this is wrong.’ I think it’s all wrong… That’s all I’ve got to say.”

When asked by the Ohio Capital Blog whether he could imagine a scenario where he would support medical marijuana, Kasich said, “No… I’m not for it… There’s better ways to help people who are in pain.”

But at the New Hampshire event with teen substance abuse prevention advocates Kasich seemed to leave room for some form of legal medical cannabis use. “Medical marijuana is a different issue,” he said. “Now, what I’ve told people in the state is we can’t use it as a back door. But if doctors were to come to me and say there is an element of that that can be used to deal with the problem of seizures, because some young people can have like 30 seizures a day, it’s something to think about. But it should be tightly controlled.”

While serving in the House, Kasich voted for a 1998 resolution “expressing the sense of Congress that marijuana is a dangerous and addictive drug and should not be legalized for medicinal use.”

Unlike several other Republican governors, Kasich even opposes limited laws aimed at providing CBD-rich cannabis preparations to children suffering from severe seizure disorders. “I’d do anything for kids,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer editorial board. “But we’ve got to do what’s medically recommended by people who have gone to medical school and have a license.”

Despite his personal opposition to marijuana reform, Kasich does seem open to letting states legalize without federal harassment. “I mean, the state has voted for it, you know what I mean? On what grounds would you shut them down?” he said on Hugh Hewitt’s show. “First of all, you have a states’ rights issue. The people in those states have voted that way… I probably would not [enforce federal law in stated that have legalized marijuana]from the standpoint that the states have gone forward to prove that.”

And even though he called legalization a “terrible idea” that he “would try to discourage the states from doing,” Kasich told he’d be inclined to respect states that go ahead anyway. “If states want to do it … I haven’t made a final decision, but I would be tempted to say I don’t think we can go and start disrupting what they’ve decided.”

Although his 1998 book, “Courage is Contagious,” contains a chapter titled, “You Don’t Know How Much I Hate Drugs,” Kasich admitted in an interview on CBS’s The Late Show with Stephen Colbert that he has used marijuana.


Rand Paul – Republican

The U.S. senator from Kentucky is a strong supporter of letting states set their own marijuana laws without federal interference, and has actively worked to reform federal policies.

Paul is an original sponsor of a bill that would effectively end the war on medical cannabis. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2015, which he introduced with a bipartisan coalition of other senators, would reschedule marijuana, allow banks to provide financial services to state-legal cannabis businesses, lift restrictions on marijuana research, allow for the interstate importation of CBD-rich strains and let V.A. doctors to recommend medical cannabis to military veterans, among other changes.

“My political director’s father-in-law has multiple sclerosis, doesn’t sleep well at night, and marijuana helps him to sleep,” Paul told a group of voters at a diner in Manchester, New Hampshire. “Who would deny him that? Here’s the weird thing: We have 17 legalized drugs from the poppy plant, opioids, oxycontin, all these things that are hard to get off of and yet we make it illegal for marijuana… It’s ridiculous that we still want to put people in jail for it.”

He has pledged to reschedule cannabis administratively if elected president.

Paul is also working on other legislation to roll back various aspects of the war on drugs, including proposals to restore voting rights to convicted felons, reform mandatory minimum sentencing and scale back civil asset forfeiture. He is a co-sponsor of a bill to give marijuana businesses access to the banking system.

In a Reddit Ask Me Anything session, Paul said that the federal government shouldn’t prevent states from implementing their own marijuana laws. “I would remove prohibition of cannabis from federal law and give authority back to the states to decide,” he said.

Similarly, he told college students in Denver that, “if I’m president I’m going to leave Colorado the hell alone.”

When asked about Congressional efforts to block Washington, D.C. from implementing its voter-approved marijuana legalization measure, Paul said, “I’m against the federal government telling them they can’t.”

But Paul hasn’t championed the cause of full legalization of marijuana as a policy he personally supports. “I’m not really promoting legalization, but I am promoting making the penalties much less severe and not putting people in jail for 10, 20, 30 years,” he told Fox News’s Sean Hannity. When Hannity followed up with, “You’re saying you’re not promoting marijuana legalization. Do you support marijuana legalization?” Paul responded by saying, “I would let states choose. And I don’t know what’ll happen, whether it’s going to end up being good or bad. But I would let the states choose because I believe in federalism and states’ rights.”

He has also made it clear that while he supports reforming marijuana laws, he doesn’t think using the drug is a good idea. “Even though it may not kill you I don’t think it’s good for you,” he told WHAS-TV. “It’s not good for studies, it’s not good for showing up for work.” He told the Hoover Institution he thinks “people who use marijuana all the time lose IQ points.”

At a CNN debate, Paul said using marijuana “is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude.”

Paul has also tied his support for letting states implement reforms to the struggle for racial justice. “I think the federal government has gone too far, I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities,” he said. “Not only do the drugs damage [people of color], we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time. So I don’t think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves.”

At a Republican debate in Des Moines, Paul said, “I also think the war on drugs has disproportionately affected our African-American community, and what we need to do is make sure that the war on drugs is equal protection under the law and that we don’t unfairly incarcerate another generation of young African-American males.”

At a rally in Cedar Falls, Iowa, Paul said,”We have a war on drugs that has disproportionately impacted African Americans. I’ll fix it.”

Similarly, he told a group of students in New Hampshire that “I’m not here to encourage [drug use]). I’m just here to tell you we shouldn’t put people in jail for hurting themselves. And understand that there is a racial disparity in how we are putting people in jail for doing drugs.”

Paul seems to understand that his positions on drug policy reform resonate with younger voters. “Justice begins when the war on drugs ends,” he tweeted as part of a small-contribution fundraising effort.

Without directly confirming reports that he used marijuana in his younger days, Paul hasn’t exactly denied it either. “Let’s just say I wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college,” Paul told WHAS-TV, “and that I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid.”

He has openly criticized other politicians who have admitted to using marijuana but oppose reforming marijuana laws. For example, speaking of former Florida governor Jeb Bush, Paul said, “This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do.” He also said, “I think it is hypocritical for very wealthy white people who have all the resources to evade the drug laws” to oppose reform. “Particularly in Jeb Bush’s case, he’s against even allowing medical marijuana for people that are confined to wheelchairs from multiple sclerosis.”


Marco Rubio – Republican

The U.S. senator and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives opposes legalization and decriminalization, and think the U.S. government should enforce federal laws even in states that have voted to end prohibition.

“We live in a country that already has problems with substance abuse,” he told ABC and Yahoo News. “We already see the impact that alcoholism is having on families, on drunk driving, on all sorts of things. And now we’re gonna add one more substance that people can use?”

He added, “When something is legal, implicitly what you’re saying, ‘it can’t be all that bad. Cuz if it’s legal it can’t be bad for you.’ The bottom line is I believe that adding yet another mind-altering substance to something that’s legal is not good for the country.”

While Rubio opposed the specific medical marijuana initiative that appeared on Florida’s 2014 ballot, he has left the door open to supporting medical cannabis in the future. “You hear compelling stories of people who say the use of medicinal marijuana  provides relief for the thing they are suffering,” he told the Tampa Bay Times. “So I’d like to learn more about that aspect of it, the science of it.”

At a candidate forum in New Hampshire, Rubio indicated he would only consider supporting medical marijuana if it were approved by the Food and Drug Administration. “For medicinal purposes, if it underwent FDA process and it was truly designed to be used as medicine, not as a way to get high, that’s something I would be willing to explore.”

Rubio is one of the only a handful of candidates who has said he thinks the federal government should interfere with state marijuana laws. “Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced,” he said. “I understand that states have decided to legalize possession under state law, and the trafficking, the sale of these products. I mean, that’s a federal crime.”

In an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Rubio said the U.S. already has enough problems with legal drugs. “Absolutely… I believe the federal government needs to enforce federal law. I think this country already is paying a terrible and high price for the impact that alcohol has had on families, on addiction, on the destruction of marriages, homes and businesses. And now we’re gonna legalize an additional intoxicant?” When host Chuck Todd if alcohol or marijuana was a bigger gateway drug, Rubio responded, “I don’t know, I’ve never done the research on that… Alcohol is legal. We’re not gonna be able to roll that back. It is what it is. ”

Rubio has refused to answer questions about whether he has ever tried marijuana. “I’ll tell you why I never answer that question,” he said in an interview with Fusion. “If I tell you that I haven’t, you won’t believe me. And if I tell you that I did, then kids will look up to me and say, ‘Well, I can smoke marijuana, because look how he made it. He did all right, so I guess I can do it, too.'”


Bernie Sanders – Democrat/Independent

The U.S. senator and former House member from Vermont, who also served as mayor of Burlington, is an independent who caucuses with the Democrats and is running for that party’s presidential nomination. Sanders is the first major presidential candidate to indicate he personally supports legalizing marijuana, and he has co-sponsored and voted in favor of marijuana reforms in Congress on a number of occasions.

Sanders has proposed removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act. “Right now, marijuana is listed by the federal government as a Schedule I drug—meaning that it is considered to be as dangerous as heroin. That is absurd,” he said at a rally at George Mason University. “In my view, the time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana. In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern the sale of alcohol and tobacco. And among other things, that means that recognized businesses in states that have legalized marijuana should be fully able to use the banking system without fear of federal prosecution.”

At a rally with students at the University of Iowa Sanders argued that marijuana and other drugs should be treated differently, and indicated he would take executive action to reschedule cannabis if elected. Under current law, “marijuana is listed side-by-side with heroin,” he said. “I know that you are a intelligent group of people and, very seriously, I know and I hope very much that you all understand what a killer drug heroin is. There are two ways out when you do heroin: Number one, you’re gonna get arrested and go to jail. Number two, you’re gonna die. Stay away from heroin. But in terms of marijuana what we are seeing is a lot of lives have been really hurt, because if you get a criminal record for possession of marijuana it could impact your ability to get a job. And that is why I have introduced legislation and will move forward as president to take marijuana out of the Controlled Substances Act.”

In a speech on the Senate floor, Sanders argued, “What I am saying is not that the federal government should legalize marijuana throughout the country. This is a decision for the states. I hope many of my colleagues, especially those who express support for states’ rights and our federalist system of government, those who often decry the power of the big bad federal government in undermining local initiatives, would support my very simple and straightforward legislation,” which he introduced soon after.

“I suspect I would vote yes,” Sanders said when asked during this cycle’s first Democratic primary debate in Nevada about the marijuana legalization initiative that’s likely to appear on the state’s ballot next November. “I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for nonviolent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana.”

Sanders has made a point to proactively raise marijuana at other debates this cycle even when not asked about it by the moderators. “It means that we take marijuana out of the federal law as a crime and give states the freedom to go forward with legalizing marijuana,” he said during one debate during a segment on the relationship between police and communities of color. During a similar discussion at a separate debate, he said, “We have to rethink the so-called war on drugs which has destroyed the lives of millions of people, which is why I have taken marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act so that it will not be a federal crime.” At

Published by Crutch 420

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