Presidential Debate on MJ Legalization

The race to the 2016 Presidential Elections is on, and one topic that has been brought front and center is marijuana policy. It is included in the speeches of prospective candidates and is often discussed in Q&A sessions as one of the various policies of interest. Well, this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. People have become more open about marijuana use in recent years and the debate on medical marijuana regulation and legalization has been a hot topic in several states. The high level of interest therefore makes it the perfect issue for a 2016 presidential campaign.

Why Republicans Should Talk about It

If you’ve been following presidential primaries for years, you would have noticed one thing about Republican primaries: Prospective candidates practically have the same views on almost all issues—healthcare, taxes, international trade, budget deficits, etc. You don’t even get the impression that they are competing against each other to win the presidential nomination!

With marijuana policy, however, things are different. There are candidates who have already openly expressed their willingness to allow each state to decide whether to legalize medical marijuana or not. There are also those who are very vocal about keeping their position on the issue of marijuana policy simple: NO. Considering that it is one of only a very few topics that force GOP candidates to make a clear stand, there is indeed a need for them to talk about it.


Some prospective presidential candidates have already expressed willingness to let states decide whether to legalize medical marijuana or not. photo by Gage Skidmore

Why Democrats Should Talk about It

It may be easier for democrats to talk about marijuana policy, but that doesn’t mean they can just treat the issue lightly or mention it as an afterthought in speeches and Q&A sessions. It is also beneficial for their prospective presidential candidates to talk about this particular issue because it allows them to connect with younger voters. It also serves as the entry point for them to discuss such issues as family life and healthcare. At the same time, it gives them the opportunity to make a stand against the federal government becoming too intrusive.

Marijuana policy also allows Democrat candidates to reach out to Latino and African American communities by linking it to such issues as discrimination, criminal justice reform, and the economic implications of the marijuana issue. Whatever large-scale issues a Democrat chooses as the centerpiece of his/her presidential campaign, it is sure to have a direct connection to the issue on marijuana. And this is why marijuana policy needs to be front and center of discussions on the road to the 2016 elections.

The Landscape So Far

Okay, so we have established that marijuana policy is indeed an important issue for the coming presidential elections, and we have also established why that is so. Now, it is high time for us to take a look at what the presidential hopefuls have to say about the matter (at least the ones who have already said something about the issue). Here is how things stand so far:

For Legalization

Rand Paul – “I think the federal government just ought to stay out.” This was what Senator Paul had to say to the Denver Post when asked about his sponsorship of a bill that allows individual states to make their own policies as regards the legalization and regulation of medical marijuana.


Senator Rand Paul sponsored a bill allowing each state to make its own policies regarding the legalization of medical marijuana. photo by WonderWhy7439

Against Legalization

Donald Trump – “They got a lot of problems going on in Colorado right now, big problems.” Although he used to say legalization was the way to win the war on drugs back in the 1990s, Trump is now very much against legalizing pot.

Bobby Jindal – “I don’t think you can ignore federal law. It is still the law of the land. It still needs to be enforced.” This is what Governor Jindal told the Washington Times when they asked how he would deal with pot shops if he becomes President.

Chris Christie – “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.” Governor Christie made this statement when he campaigned in New Hampshire on July 30.

Still Considering It

Bernie Sanders – “I think there are things that the federal government can do that would make it easier for states that want to go in that direction to be able to do so.” Although he has yet to make a clear stand on the issue, it appears that Senator Sanders is leaning more towards supporting legalization.

Hillary Clinton – “We have two states experimenting with legal marijuana right now. I want to wait to see what the evidence is.” During a CNN Town Hall, Clinton expressed interest in seeing how marijuana legalization plays out, although she also expressed skepticism over the use of marijuana as medicine.

A Bit Confused (and Confusing)

Jeb Bush – “I thought [legalization] was a bad idea, but states ought to have the right to do it.” This was what Bush had to say at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), but last year, he strongly opposed a ballot initiative that would have allowed medical marijuana in his home state (Florida).

Ted Cruz – “If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative.” Senator Cruz had this to say at the CPAC, but he criticized President Obama last year for failing to prevent Colorado and Washington from legalizing marijuana.

Marco Rubio – “Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced.” Having said this, Senator Rubio says he could support medical marijuana, provided that it isn’t mind-altering.

Mike Huckabee – This former governor is known to have been strongly opposed to marijuana legalization, even for medical purposes. Recently, however, he has stated that if Colorado is creating jobs and making money from the legalization, then good for them!

Martin O’Malley – Although O’Malley has signed bills that decriminalized marijuana possession in small amounts, he also says he “isn’t there yet” when asked about supporting marijuana legalization.

Scott Walker – Just like Jeb Bush, it looks like Governor Walker is okay with states legalizing the use of marijuana, as long as it isn’t his own.

Ben Carson – Carson considers marijuana a gateway drug and opposes its legalization, while at the same time expressing support for certain medical uses of pot.

John Kasich – The Ohio governor seemed clear on his opposition to marijuana legalization, but in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, he said, “I just want to give it some thought.”

Carly Fiorina – While Fiorina respects “Colorado’s right to do what they did,” she fails to see the difference between the drug addiction epidemic and marijuana legalization.

Tides may still turn, but right now, that’s how the wind blows in the presidential debate on the issue of marijuana legalization. This comprehensive writeup is brought to you by Davinci Vaporizers. Want to hop in the legalization discussion? Join the talks on our Facebook page or tweet your opinion and tag us.