Hillary Clinton says that as president she would support decriminalizing marijuana.
The Democratic nominee released a statement Thursday saying that she would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug. The reclassification would remove major restrictions to academic research into the effects of marijuana use and reduce the criminal penalties associated with possessing the drug. The statement came the same day as an announcement from the DEA that organization was removing some restrictions to research, but keeping marijuana in the Schedule 1 category.
"Marijuana is already being used for medical purposes in states across the country, and it has the potential for even further medical use," Maya Harris, a senior policy advisor to Clinton’s campaign, said in a statement, reported by The Denver Post. "As Hillary Clinton has said throughout this campaign, we should make it easier to study marijuana so that we can better understand its potential benefits, as well as its side effects."
Election Day 2016 will be a big one for cannabis advocates. Five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — will vote on recreationally legalizing pot on ballot measures this year. Three more will vote to legalize marijuana for medical use. In such a watershed year for marijuana law, where do all the presidential candidates stand on the issue?
Clinton has expressed support for medical marijuana and expanded research into the medical benefits of marijuana, but has often said she would defer to the states to decide. In 2014, when asked about the legalization of recreational use in Colorado and Washington, she famously said the “states are the laboratories of democracy” and that she wants to see what happens in those states. More recently, Clinton has expressed concern about marijuana laws have affected incarceration rates, especially for African Americans. On Thursday, Clinton said she would reschedule marijuana and make it a Schedule 2 narcotic.
Donald Trump, the GOP nominee, has an, at best, ambiguous drug policy. Before he launched a career in politics, the businessman expressed support for legalization on multiple occasions. Since the start of his campaign, however, he has said he supports medical marijuana with restrictions, but would defer to states to decide how to handle marijuana. In an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, though, the GOP nominee said he did have concerns about the long term effects of marijuana use on the brain.
Libertarian nominee Johnson is an admitted marijuana user — he says he enjoys edibles but will abstain for the duration of his presidential campaign and would continue to do so while in office — so he obviously is all for legalization. Johnson refers to himself as "the highest-ranking official in the United States to call for the legalization of marijuana."
"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," Johnson told International Business Times in June. "The campaign to legalize marijuana in Colorado was a campaign based on: Marijuana is safer than alcohol."
Johnson also believes that legalization is a social justice issue.
"Tens of millions of Americans, but for drug laws, who are now convicted felons, would otherwise be taxpaying, law-abiding citizens. And we have the highest incarceration rate in the world, and at the heart of that is the drug war," Johnson said. "We need to be looking at pardoning those convicted felons that have served out their sentences, and we need to look to be pardoning those that are in prison for victimless, nonviolent crime. And back to the disparity in drug laws: If you are of color, there is a four times more likelihood that you will go to jail than if you are white."
The Green Party nominee is all about the green! Jill Stein supports the legalization of marijuana for recreational and medical use. Her platform on her campaign website says she would "legalize marijuana/hemp and treat substance abuse as a public health problem, not a criminal problem."