Republican Mike Pence and Democrat Tim Kaine will go head to head over many issues at their first vice presidential debate Tuesday night, however, marijuana reform may be the one thing Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s respective picks agree on – to an extent.
While the list of debate topics was not released ahead of the event, it's likely the vice presidential picks will be asked about their views on the marijuana reform movement before nine states vote on cannabis laws during the November elections. But proponents of legal pot probably won't like what either vice president candidate has to say on the issue.
Pence has been a strong anti-marijuana legalization advocate, whether it be for medical or recreational purposes. Kaine, who received a C+ grade on NORML’s marijuana advocacy scorecard, isn’t very supportive of medical or recreational pot use, either. He has openly said he isn’t a big “legalization fan.”
During an interview with WMRA radio in 2014, Kaine said “for both health and sort of crime-related reasons," he didn’t think marijuana reform was “a good idea.” The Virginia senator did note that he is “for reexamination of sentences,” because some charges for marijuana possession and usage “are too strict.”
When it comes to marijuana and nonviolent crimes, Kaine said: “I think it could be handled in a different way on a sentencing standpoint. But in terms of the decriminalization of marijuana, I’ve never been a proponent.”
During a Senate hearing in May, however, Kaine said he’d be open to letting states create their own legal marijuana laws. “I actually kind of like this notion of the states as labs and they can experiment and we can see what happens,” he said.
Pence, on the other hand, has been blatantly against marijuana reform. The Indiana governor has voted against cannabis laws multiple times, including a 2013 House Bill 1006 that proposed to reduce marijuana possession charges. Instead, Pence urged legislators to move marijuana charges up to a Class B misdemeanor, meaning possession of any amount of weed would result up to a $1,000 fine and 180 days in jail.
“I think we need to focus on reducing crime, not reducing penalties,” Pence said in 2014.