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.
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 legalization.
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."
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" question.
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."
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 it [marijuana]."
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 legalization](http://www.people-press.org/2015/04/14/in-debate-over-legalizing-marijuana-disagreement-over-drugs-dangers/# current-opinion-on-legalizing-marijuana).