With the presidential election looming, knowing where the candidates
stand on medical marijuana is important in the eyes of many voters.
After all, our next commander-in-chief could have the final say on
medical marijuana policy nationwide.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ambiguous
While the field is still crowded and there is no general consensus,
emerging trends are unsurprising. Candidates trend against legalization,
although the Independents seem more open to the ideas of medical
marijuana and allowing states to decide. Democratic candidates tepidly
favor restricted medical cannabis legalization, though less so than the
Independents. Republicans are opposed across the board, except for Rand
Paul and Donald Trump.
Unsurprisingly, the most conservative candidates are the most
anti-legalization, and are unflinchingly honest in their opposition.
Moderate Republican candidates, however, tend to endorse the idea of
legalization at the state level, while at the same time insisting that
federal law should be enforced — even in states which have voted for
What are the most well-known candidates are saying?
Donald Trump: Pro
Mr. Trump feels legalization should be a states’ rights issue, saying,
"If they vote for it, they vote for it." His opinion is clear-cut: "I
think medical marijuana, 100 percent."
Scott Walker: Unclear
While Gov. Walker is clearly opposed to medical marijuana, saying state
laws should reflect marijuana’s current Schedule 1 classification, he
has also signed into law a bill allowing CBD-rich cannabis extracts for
seizure disorders. When asked whether states or the federal government
should set marijuana laws, his only reply was that it’s a "difficult"
Jeb Bush: Hands-off
Although Gov. Bush is personally opposed to medical marijuana and has
even urged voters to reject it in his own state, he says the issue
should be left to individual states. "States ought to have a right to
decide these things," he says. "The federal government’s role in our
lives is way too overreaching."
Hillary Clinton: Unclear
Sen. Clinton has conflicting views about medical marijuana. She has said
she believes marijuana has medical value, and that she wants to see
states make their own laws about it. On the other hand, during the 2007
presidential campaign, she said, ‘I don’t think we should decriminalize
Bernie Sanders: Pro
Sen. Sanders has been supportive of marijuana reform, repeatedly voting
to stop the Department of Justice from interfering with state medical
marijuana laws. He also co-sponsored a bill to reschedule cannabis and
make it more accessible to researchers.
The overall attitude runs against prevailing public opinion, as voters
in individual states continue to demonstrate –currently, 23 states and
the District of Columbia allow cannabis for medical purposes. According
to a recent Pew poll, [53% of the country favors