Where Do The Candidates Come Down on Cannabis?


With four states and the District of Columbia voting to legalize recreational marijuana, pot is going to be a hot button issue in the 2016 election.

It’s election season again, and it’s already shaping up to be an interesting race.While many initially believed 2016 would be “politics as usual”, with a Bush and a Clinton seen as the most likely contenders in the Presidential race, that perception has changed with the rise of insurgent candidates like populist Bernie Sanders, libertarian Rand Paul, and even a surprisingly successful campaign by “The Donald” himself.

With such a diverse roundup of potential candidates, the question on the hearts and minds of legalization advocates is “How do these presidential candidates and cannabis get along?” To make it easier, we’ve compiled a list of 2016’s most likely presidential contenders, along with their statements regarding the legalization of marijuana.

Hilary Clinton

Where do the Candidates Come Down on Cannabis Greenito

Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has received a “B-” grade from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). She supports further research into the effects of cannabis and is generally favorable toward legalization.

“We ought to be doing more to make sure that we know how marijuana would interact with other prescription drugs and the like. But we also have to know how even medical marijuana impacts our kids and our communities.”


Bernie Sanders

Where do the Candidates Come Down on Cannabis Greenito

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, whose grassroots campaign has been making waves in the Democratic primaries, received a “B” rated from the MPP. He supports medical marijuana legalization and has been highly critical of the war on drugs. He believes Colorado and Washington will serve as models of what nationwide legalization could look like.

“I have real concerns about implications of the war on drugs. We have been engaged in it for decades now with a huge cost and the destruction of a whole lot of lives of people who were never involved in any violent activities.”

Jeb Bush

Where do the Candidates Come Down on Cannabis Greenito

Jeb Bush received a “D” rating from the MPP. He has a history of supporting the war on drugs and opposing marijuana legalization. However, he believes states should have the right to legalize marijuana if they choose to do so.

“I thought [legalizing marijuana in Colorado] was a bad idea, but states ought to have that right to do it. I would have voted ‘no’ if I was in Colorado.”

Rand Paul

Where do the Candidates Come Down on Cannabis Greenito

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul received an “A-” rating from the MPP. He opposes the war on drugs on libertarian grounds, stating the Federal government shouldn’t have the right to prohibit drug possession. He has sponsored and co-sponsored several bills which reduce penalties for marijuana possession.

“I’m not for having the federal government get involved. I really haven’t taken a stand on … the actual legalization. I haven’t really taken a stand on that, but I’m against the federal government telling them they can’t.”

Donald Trump

Where do the Candidates Come Down on Cannabis Greenito

The real estate mogul and former host of “The Apprentice” received a “C” grade from the MPP. He has advocated legalizing all drugs in the past, but has taken an anti-legalization stance since starting his presidential campaign. He still strongly supports medical marijuana.

“I’d say [regulating marijuana] is bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad and I feel strongly about that.”

Martin O’Malley

Where do the Candidates Come Down on Cannabis Greenito

Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley received a “C-” grade from the MPP. He has spoken out against marijuana use for any purpose, including medicinal, but has yielded to popular opinion in some areas, signing legislation which reduced penalties for marijuana possession.

“I’m not much in favor of it. We’ve seen what drug addiction has done to the people of our state, to the people of our city. This drug, its use and its abuse can be a gateway.”

Ben Carson

Where do the Candidates Come Down on Cannabis Greenito

Dr. Carson received a “D” rating from the MPP. Although he has spoken somewhat positively of medical marijuana’s potential, he subscribes to the “gateway drug” theory.

“I think medical use of marijuana in compassionate cases certainly has been proven to be useful. But recognize that marijuana is what’s known as a gateway drug. It tends to be a starter drug for people who move onto heavier duty drugs – sometimes legal, sometimes illegal – and I don’t think this is something that we really want for our society.”

Joe Biden

Where do the Candidates Come Down on Cannabis Greenito

Current Vice President Joe Biden received a “D” rating from the MPP. While serving as a senator, Biden took a hardline stance against drugs. He was also instrumental in the creation of the “drug czar” position. In his current position, Biden continues to oppose legalization, but his view has softened somewhat.

“I think the idea of focusing significant resources on interdicting or convicting people for smoking marijuana is a waste of our resources. That’s different than [legalization]. Our policy for our Administration is still not legalization, and that is [and] continues to be our policy.”


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