Let’s see what we can learn about some of the announced Presidential candidates and their position on re-legalization.
Ben Carson – Republican: The retired neurosurgeon, who has never held elected office, 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 also argued that marijuana use has long-term 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 . . .”
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.”
Ted Cruz – Republican: The U.S. senator from Texas isn’t a fan of legalization but has said that when it comes to states that want to end prohibition, “that’s their right.”
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.”
Earlier this year, 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?”
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.
“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.”
[Editor’s note: come back later this week, we have more for you on this forked-tongued candidate.]
Mike Huckabee – Republican: The former Arkansas governor and Baptist pastor opposes legalization and, while unsuccessfully running for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, said he would not stop the DEA from raiding and arresting patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.
“I’m going to leave it up to the DEA whether they feel like there is a person who is being arrested because they are suffering from AIDS or because they really are doing something to significantly violate drug laws,” he said, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. “I think there are better ways to treat medical illnesses than the use of a drug that has really caused so many more people to have their lives injured than it has to necessarily have their lives helped.”
When confronted on the campaign trail by a New Hampshire medical marijuana patient, Huckabee said, “I’m not going to put you in jail, Linda. That’s not the point we would do. But I think the question is would I favor the legalization at a federal level, and until there is some stronger scientific evidence, I am reluctant to do that.”
Martin O’Malley – Democrat: The former Maryland governor and Baltimore mayor and city councilor signed laws decriminalizing marijuana possession and legalizing medical cannabis into law, but not before he spent years vocally opposing such reforms.
“As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the Public Will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety,” O’Malley said in a statement announcing the he would sign the bill. “I now think that decriminalizing possession of marijuana is an acknowledgement of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health. Such an acknowledgment in law might even lead to a greater focus on far more serious threats to public safety and the lives of our citizens.”
George Pataki – Republican: The former New York governor, state legislator and mayor of Peekskill opposes legalization but is a supporter of states’ rights to enact their own marijuana laws. However, he believes that federal law needs to be changed first.
“I’m a great believer in the 10th Amendment,” Pataki told Hugh Hewitt. “So I would be very strongly inclined to change the federal law to give states, when they’ve had a referenda, the opportunity with respect to marijuana to decriminalize it,” but with a few caveats.
“I would not be adverse to changing the law if we could guarantee…no spillover to adjacent states, protection for minorities that are ironclad, and the third is there’s no increase in dependency as a result of that,” he said. “You know, if all of a sudden we see states like whatever the state that legalizes it is resulting in much higher dependency costs that the federal government has to pay for, then I think the federal government has the right to say you can’t do that.”
Rand Paul – Republican: The U.S. senator from Kentucky is one of the only candidates who has actively worked to reform marijuana laws. For example, he is an original sponsor of a bill that would effectively end the federal war on medical marijuana. The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act of 2015, which Paul introduced with a biapartisan 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 allow V.A. doctors to recommend medical cannabis to military veterans, among other changes.
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.
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.”
Marco Rubio – Republican: The U.S. senator and former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives opposes legalization and decriminalization.
“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.”
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. He’s running for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Sanders has co-sponsored and voted in favor of incremental marijuana reforms on a number of occasions, but hasn’t explicitly endorsed full legalization.
For example, as a House member, Sanders repeatedly voted in favor of an amendment to prevent the Department of Justice from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws. He also co-sponsored the States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, a bill to reschedule cannabis and provide greater protections for medical patients.
During the last Congressional session, Sanders co-sponsored Senate legislation to legalize industrial hemp, but he has not yet signed on to this year’s version of the bill.
On legalization, Sanders told TIME, that it “is a trend, but I think it has a lot of political support from young people especially. It probably will continue to move forward.”
Rick Santorum – Republican: The former U.S. senator and congressman from Pennsylvania opposes legalization and, during his last campaign for president, in 2012, told a voter at a forum that he believes marijuana is “a hazardous thing for society.”
He has offered somewhat conflicting statements on whether he thinks states should be able to set their own marijuana laws without federal interference. He told the same previously mentioned voter that “states, under the Constitution, probably have the right to do it, just like they have the right to do medical marijuana laws, legally. But I don’t think they morally have the right to do things that are harmful to the people in their community. And therefore, I think the federal government should step in.”
These are excerpts from a longer article by Tom Angell with Marijuana Marority. The choice of the next President is important to the cause of re-legalization. Take some time and get your brain smart on who is saying what before you decide who gets your vote. The complete original post is HERE.
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