What The Marijuana Lobby Could Offer Hillary Clinton

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Hillary Clinton says she has never smoked pot, not even as a bell-bottom-wearing undergraduate in the 1960s. Her husband’s administration went nuclear in the War on Drugs. During the 2008 campaign, she publicly opposed marijuana legalization.

But it’s now seven years later, and the marijuana industry isn’t selling baggies and answering beepers. It’s a $2.7 billion business—the fastest-growing in the United States—and one that operates without any legal sanction in four states, is decriminalized in 16 others, and is permitted for medical use in a few more.

And now people that are selling, growing, and, in some cases, using marijuana have money to burn. They want to give some of that green (not that, the other green) to politicians hungry for donations. But they want some answers first.

Most 2016 Candidates Are Opting For A Federalist Approach To Marijuana

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been vocal about his dedication to maintaining the war on drugs, commenting on several occasions that he would use his power as president to prevent states from legalizing marijuana.

While Christie might have found himself in good company back in 2012 or 2008, most of the 2016 candidates from both parties — including Jeb BushLincolnChafeeHillary ClintonTed CruzRand PaulRick Perry, and Bernie Sanders— have taken a more hands-off, federalist approach. In the words of GOP candidate Carly Fiorina, “Colorado voters made a choice. I don’t support their choice, but I do support their right to make that choice.”

 

A Republican President Could Kill The Cannabis Industry

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The election of a conservative Republican as President could roll back the gains made in the legalization of marijuana. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie took a bold stand recently and said if he were elected, he would work to reverse what has happened under President Obama. While its doubtful Christie would be elected President, it isn’t that improbable that a conservation republican could be elected over Hillary Clinton and get tough on pot. While most people in the cannabis industry dismiss such talk, it’s a very real possibility.

Dan Riffle, Director of Federal Policies at the Marijuana Policy Project said, “I’m not worried about the next president rolling back marijuana reform; those days are over. First and foremost, marijuana polls better than any candidate from either party—you’re not going to get elected if part of your campaign involves rolling back marijuana laws more popular than you. The fact that Colorado is a swing state helps here.

Second, the DOJ’s policy of deference toward the states wasn’t just written because it’s the politically popular option, but because, legally, there’s very little the federal government can do. Every lawyer and law student who made it through their first year of law school knows the feds can’t force the states to criminalize marijuana, and the Justice Department just doesn’t have the resources to enforce federal law on its own without the states’ cooperation.” The Federal Government though can make life very difficult for those in the cannabis industry if they get that mandate from the top.

How Will Presidential Politics Affect 2016 Push For Pot Legalization?

Advocates expect another major push for marijuana legalization in 2016, a strategy that is likely to force presidential candidates to take a position on the drug. Some wonder if their efforts will be tripped up if Hillary Clinton turns out to be the Democratic nominee.

CNN’s Dan Merica takes a look at presidential politics and the campaign to legalize marijuana. In her public comments on the pot, Clinton has taken a “wait and see” approach to recreational pot.

“She is so politically pragmatic,” said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, told Merica. “If she has to find herself running against a conservative Republican in 2016, I am fearful, from my own view here, that she is going to tack more to the middle. And the middle in this issue tends to tack more to the conservative side.”

Expert: Marijuana Is ‘Gateway Drug To The White House’

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The dangers of marijuana use are overstated, and the last three presidential elections prove it, an expert told a congressional panel on Friday.

“When we talk about marijuana as a gateway drug, we have to remember that the last three occupants of the White House have smoked marijuana,” said Carl Hart, an associate professor of psychology at Columbia University.

“We can very well say marijuana is a gateway drug to the White House,” he added.

President Obama has admitted to using marijuana as a teenager, and has expressed support for efforts in states such as Colorado and Washington to legalize the drug for recreational use. The Treasury Department, meanwhile, has outlined how banks can provide services for businesses selling marijuana without breaking federal law, which bans the drug. 

That has drawn pushback from some members of Congress who say the administration is encouraging illegal conduct.

Hillary Clinton Leaves Door Open On Marijuana Legalization

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Hillary Clinton said Tuesday she supports medical marijuana “for people who are in extreme medical conditions” and wants to “wait and see” how recreational pot works in Colorado and Washington state.

In an interview with CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour promoting her memoir Hard Choices, Clinton suggested she may be open to marijuana policy reform.

Clinton, a former secretary of state and potential Democratic candidate for president in 2016, responded to Amanpour’s question about marijuana legalization first with her thoughts on medical cannabis.

“There are younger people here who could help me understand this and answer it,” Clinton began. “At the risk of committing radical candor, I have to say I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. I don’t think we’ve done enough research yet, although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and who have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances. But I do think we need more research because we don’t know how it interacts with other drugs.”