HOW DO THE presidential candidates rate when it comes to pot?
GOOD QUESTION. Chris Christie and Jeb Bush were the worst of the bunch, but both are goners. Of the remaining candidates, I doubt anyone would try to un-ring the bell of state-level progress, although some are far better than others. Here is a rundown, from worst to best:
John Kasich—Kasich seems like the candidate most likely to be gone by the time you read this. Kasich gave Stephen Colbert a disappointing take on pot when he said, "We don't want to tell our kids, 'Don't do drugs, but by the way, this one is okay.'" When Colbert responded, "Isn't that what alcohol is?" Kasich didn't answer, but referenced a 21-year-old Mississippi man who killed himself due to drug addiction. Kasich gets an F.
Marco Rubio—Rubio should make pot boosters nervous. He's expressed tolerance for state decriminalization of weed possession, but consistently supported federal enforcement against cannabis businesses. In April 2015, Rubio told ABC News, "Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced." Then in August, when pressed on whether he would pursue Washington state and Colorado: "Well, the federal government needs to enforce federal law." I give Rubio a D-.
Donald Trump—I have no idea where to put Trump, so I'm putting him here. As with many issues that do not involve a large wall, pinning Trump down on a position is tough. On Bill O'Reilly's show, Trump responded to a question about whether he would stop marijuana legalization, by saying, "I would really want to think about that one, Bill, because in some ways, I think it's good and in other ways, it's bad." Got that? It could be good or bad: C.
Ted Cruz—Cruz wants states to do their thing. Last March, he said this about legalization: "I actually think this is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called the 'laboratories of democracy.' If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that's their prerogative. I personally don't agree with it, but it's their right." Cruz likely wouldn't do anything helpful at the federal level, but he also wouldn't try to enforce federal cannabis law: B-.
Hillary Clinton—Though Clinton has never been a legalization advocate, she is also not a jailer. Clinton's platform is to move cannabis "from Schedule I to Schedule II so researchers can research what's the best way to use it, dosage, how does it work with other medications." That's okay, but could be better: Schedule II drugs are seen as having a high potential for abuse with some medical use, so they're prescribed with severe restrictions. That's not what we are looking for: B-.
Bernie Sanders—Bernie is the only pro-marijuana candidate. He introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015, which would amend the Controlled Substances Act to remove all mentions of cannabis from the law. Bernie gets an A.