Where do the 2016 Presidential Candidates stand on cannabis?

As we head into election month, it’s always good to take a moment to discuss the different candidates’ approaches to medical and recreational cannabis. This is the first election year where all of the candidates at least support the states’ right to regulate and tax medical cannabis. Accord into a recent Gallop poll, 58% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis, now it’s time to use our voting power and elect a leader who will acknowledge the facts and fight for our right to use this medicine.

Let’s start with Mr. Donald Trump, the Republican party’s nominee. While Trump is very clearly pro-medical cannabis, saying that he supports it “a hundred percent,” that’s as much as he’s offered. His veteran’s reform “Position” is an ample essay, addressing concerns that have a lot to do with cannabis – PTSD, for example – but it never specifically mentions cannabis at all.  Essentially, he’s pandering to two classic Republican constituencies – the “Don’t Tread on Me” crowd and the “Just Say No” crowd. As with many of Trump’s policies, specifics are very hard to come by. The “Positions” section on his official website does not offer any comment on cannabis. The only official comment on drugs can be found under the “Issues” section, in which he offers a video on the drug epidemic. In it, he makes claims to stem the flow of drugs from south of the border (with the Mexico-funded wall, of course), but does not give any specifics, nor does he offer any opinion on the legal cannabis already being grown right here in the U.S. No other materials on his website offer any comments on cannabis, though in 1990, he came out strongly in favor of legalization. And not just for cannabis, but for all drugs.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, is a candidate who has constantly shifted her stance on recreational and medical cannabis. We’re not really sure what she would do in office, or what kind of pressure she will get about legalization.  In the 90s, she supported the “cannabis is a gateway drug” theory, using it to link to her “super predator” comments that helped lead to America’s incarceration crisis we are dealing with today. Now, however, Hillary has said that she supports moving cannabis from a Schedule 1 narcotic to a Schedule 2, which will permit it “to be the basis for  medical research moving forward”.  Clinton’s essentially saying she’d consider loosening rules on cannabis by regulating it like opium or cocaine – the bare minimum of reform. As a politician and possible president, Clinton has the power to make a real change and cry outrage over the drug war’s atrocities, overcrowded prisons, and racial inequalities, but instead she dances around the issue and offers safe responses to a climate on the eve of massive change.

Gary Johnson is the Libertarian candidate and former Governor of New Mexico. He has always been in favor of the legalization of cannabis, and prides himself on being the highest ranking official who supports legalization (before Bernie Sanders). Johnson himself is a smoker; however, he vowed to stop if elected so that he would be sharp and excel as president (sort of contradictory, don’t you think?). From a recent interview, “Marijuana products, from a medicinal standpoint, directly compete with legal prescription drugs that kill 100,000 people a year. There has not been one documented death due to marijuana. So [it’s] a whole lot safer and arguably as effective. On the recreational side, I have always maintained that legalizing marijuana will lead to less overall substance abuse because people will find marijuana as such a safer alternative than everything else that’s out there — starting with alcohol.” Gary Johnson has also name-dropped a favorite cannabis edible, “Cheeba Chews”, which we carry right here in our store!

Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, takes a common sense approach to cannabis. She believes in legalizing cannabis/hemp in all 50 states, and treating cannabis as a medical issue, not a moral one. She has been consistent throughout her political career in terms of wanting to end the war on drugs. From a recent interview, “As president, I wouldn’t want to remove all laws against all drug use. But marijuana is a drug that’s dangerous because it’s illegal, it isn’t illegal because it’s dangerous. There are drugs in use that are far more harmful than marijuana — such as alcohol. Legalize marijuana and the dangers go away. Regulate it so that children can’t buy it on the street corner.”

Although all candidates are, in one way or another, in favor of opening up the conversation about legal and medical cannabis, what’s very important to note is the lasting effect their decisions will have on the future once they trickle down. It’s almost less about their official stance, and more about who they’ll appoint, and what THEIR stances are. These elected officials will include Supreme Court justices, attorney generals, and heads of federal agencies who create regulations on farming, business and research. These are the positions that will affect the cannabis culture and it’s regulations for years to come, and it trickles right down to our cities and towns. Aside from federally-elected positions, most government offices are ours to vote for, so I encourage you all to do your homework and research not only the presidential candidates, but all the other elected officials that will impact your life. Exercising your right to vote is extremely important, and can often be very fulfilling!

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