Marijuana and the 2016 US Presidency

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Who offers the best solution to prohibition?

2016 looks to be a big year for political shift in the United States, with the many unique presidential candidates offering new opinions and ideals. One major issue is marijuana, and the potential for legalising or decriminalising it at a federal or state scale.

Let’s have a look at the top four candidates – Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders – and their stances on marijuana prohibition.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump

Trump’s campaign may be centered around what is considered to be “radical right-wing ideals”, but that isn’t stopping him from gaining attention with voters and international governments alike. The Donald has been hitting major headlines for many of the controversial things he says and does, and marijuana has not been an exception to that. Trump is, surprisingly, very supportive of the use of medical marijuana, as well as state-driven regulation.

At a Trump rally in the western state of Nevada, a supporter asked him, “What are you going to do for legalising marijuana, if people are willing to follow all of the rules […] legally and federally?”

His response was fairly blunt and direct, as we’ve come to expect from him.

“The marijuana thing is – it’s such a big thing. I think medical [marijuana] should happen, right? Don’t we agree? I mean, I think so – and then, I really believe that you should leave it up to the states, it should be a state situation,” he declared, to wild cheering from the crowd. “I just left Colorado. I love Colorado, the people are great, but, there’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, [it’s] not going exactly trouble-free … I really think we should study Colorado, see what’s happening, but – I believe [in] the legalisation of [medical] marijuana. I know people that are very, very sick, and for whatever reason, the marijuana really helps them. I think, in terms of marijuana and legalisation, that should be a state issue, state by state.”

Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz

At the time of writing, Texas Senator Ted Cruz is performing second best – after Trump – among the Republican nominees. Cruz has gone back and forth on his opinions of marijuana prohibition, but he seems to have taken a more open approach to it as of late – similar to that of Trump. At the recent Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Sean Hannity – a Fox News reporter – posed the question to Cruz: “Colorado – good idea legalising marijuana, [or] bad idea?”

Cruz’s initial response was rather light-hearted and amusing, where he said, “Well, I was told Colorado provided the brownies here today”, to which a loud laughter erupted from the crowd. Cruz continued more seriously to say, “I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called, ‘the laboratories of democracy,’” he began, “If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that’s their prerogative. I don’t agree with it, but that’s their right.”

This is a rather open-minded approach to the issue for a conservative, considering that in the past, Cruz has criticized President Obama for allowing Colorado and Washington to legalise marijuana.

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton is considered the front-runner for the Democratic party by the tiniest of margins. She is very passionate about her opinions but has been known to ‘flip-flop’, or change her mind, on a regular basis to fit her voter demographic. However, her stance on marijuana is anything but one sided – in fact, she hasn’t truly taken a side at all. During one of the Democratic debates, Hillary was confronted with the following by CNN reporter Juan Carlos Lopez: “When asked about legalising recreational marijuana, you told [journalist, Christiane Amanpour], ‘let’s wait and see how it plays out in Colorado and Washington.’ It’s been over a year since you said that, [so] are you ready to take a position tonight?”

Her response to this was rather cautious; Clinton responded:

“No. I think we have an opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana, to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there that we need to do a lot more research, so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief. I agree completely with the idea that we’ve got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this, so we don’t have this terrible result… where we have a huge population in our prisons for non-violent, low-level offenses, that are primarily due to marijuana.”

It is hard to say from this information whether she is certain of her opinion on the issue or not, as it has changed many times in relation to the crowd she is speaking to. However, any individual who is educated on the use of medical marijuana can easily say that there are many documented scientific cases where marijuana has been proven to have medicinal benefits, despite Secretary Clinton’s statement.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Vermont’s Junior Senator Bernie Sanders has been more outspoken about ending the War on Drugs than any candidate in US history. Recently, Sanders has picked up massive amounts of support from the young voters of America for this, as well as many of his other progressive values – including his activism for civil rights and the LGBT community. Senator Sanders is also known for his consistency on his values and ideals, especially when it comes to marijuana and ending the War on Drugs.

When Sanders was interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel’s question to the Senator was point blank – “What is your stance on marijuana?”

Sanders immediately responded with a large smile, cheered on by the crowd.

“Here’s my stance – and this is a really serious issue – we have more people in jail today than any other country on Earth. We have large numbers of lives that have been destroyed because of this War on Drugs, and because people were caught smoking marijuana and so forth. I think we have got to end the War on Drugs,” Sanders declared. “You know, looking at what’s going on in Colorado and elsewhere […] I am not unfavourably disposed to moving towards the legalisation of marijuana.” The crowd was in a completely overjoyed uproar at this statement, further proving that this is what the US people want – and also proving that Senator Sanders has the best interests of the American people at heart.

Kimmel followed this question by asking, “Would you be open to the idea … of [having] postal workers deliver marijuana to people?” Sanders paused for a brief moment to think about this, and once collected, his response was simply the following: “That’ll get rid of the federal deficit pretty quick, now won’t it?”

With these statements in mind, including his consistent track record of believing in such, Bernie Sanders is, without a doubt, the number one candidate in terms of ending the War on Drugs – especially on the matter of marijuana prohibition.

If you’re looking for the candidate who is the most supportive of ending marijuana prohibition and the War on Drugs, Bernie Sanders is the man to vote for. I highly encourage you, the reader, to go out and vote no matter who your choice is; when you don’t vote, you give the Electoral College the power to decide for you. If your opinion is something that matters to yourself then the only way to take a stance is to get out there, and Rock the Vote!

Abby Parfait is a homeschool graduate of Parkview Christian Baptist High School and is from Beaumont, Texas.

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