The California Primaries, Candidates and their Marijuana Positions

california primaries 2016 candidates marijuana positions

With the California Primaries just four days away, many participants and enthusiasts in the cannabis space are looking to the five remaining presidential candidates (or three, depending on your perspective) to see what are their Marijuana positions and who would be their greatest ally. It’s a difficult question to answer, given the candidates’ shifting views over time and lack of ability to fully predict how their agenda for the presidency would be altered by events between now and their swearing-in.

A recent poll has Hillary Clinton at 2 points ahead of Bernie Sanders, while a new USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times poll has found Sanders with a slight lead in eligible voters and Clinton with a lead among likely voters. Taking into account the margin for error in these polls, it’s a statistical dead heat across the board.

Going into the polls, it’s important that California voters understand how their options for President feel about cannabis as a recreational substance, medical treatment, and source of tax revenue for the state.

Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton’s stance on marijuana legalization is fairly moderate for a Democrat and she has penciled in up to 30 appearances in California before the California Primaries. She has expressed support for medical marijuana and moving cannabis to Schedule II on the federal drug schedule.  This will ultimately help break down barriers preventing researchers from studying its medical benefits.  However, she’s yet to take a firm stance on outright recreational legalization. Clinton’s view of cannabis isn’t all that surprising, given her moderate stances on a number of other issues, but it’s unlikely that a presidency under Hillary would be any more likely to advocate for legalization or patients’ rights than her husband’s. Bernie Sanders has moved Hillary much to the left on many issues including her Marijuana position, so it would be hard to really know where she will end up should she become the Democratic nominee where she would begin her pivot to the center.

Bernie Sanders DemocratBernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders has expressed his support for the cannabis industry on a major level, specifically endorsing the legalization and regulation of the substance for adult and medical use. In addition to his stance on legalization, Sanders has noted that he would remove marijuana from the federal drug schedule altogether if given the opportunity, and that the war on drugs has been enforced in a draconian and ineffective manner.

Donald J Trump - Republican Presidential NomineeDonald Trump- Donald Trump has stated that Cannabis reform is ultimately a state’s rights issue. In 1990, Trump stated his support for the legalization of all drugs, but he’s more recently opposed the legalization and regulation of recreational marijuana use. While he supports medical marijuana, it’s difficult to say whether the Republican Party’s presumptive candidate for President would stick to his current stance for the duration of his presidency if elected as everything the “Art of the Deal” writer has said, is a negotiation.


Other Candidates

Gary Johnson - Libertarian CandidateGary Johnson- Arguably the strongest Presidential candidate when it comes to marijuana legalization, Gary Johnson is the former CEO of a medical marijuana business, has personally consumed cannabis (and spoken frankly about his past use), supports full legalization and removal of marijuana from the federal drug schedule, and endorsed state ballot measures for recreational legalization and regulation in all current legal states. As a Libertarian candidate, he re-iterates that he is a social liberal and a fiscal conservative. Not all Libertarians are in complete accord with Johnson, but he was nominated on the second round ballot.

Jill Stein - Green PartyJill Stein- While not eligible for voting in the California Primaries this Tuesday and she isn’t the official nominee of the Green Party and won’t be until their national convention in August, Stein is significantly more likely than not to lead the Green Party as their Presidential candidate. She’s an avid supporter of marijuana legalization and regulation, supporting it for adult and medical use, and would likely be an active advocate for drug policy reform if elected President. Stein is also a physician, lending credence to her expertise on marijuana as an effective medical treatment.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton might be better presidents on marijuana policy than Donald Trump, but Senator Sanders is definitively more supportive of the cannabis industry and space as a whole. This isn’t to say that voters should only consider a single issue in determining their choice for president, but there’s a clear winner in this primary when it comes to drug policy, and those single issue voters that value cannabis policy reform as their one issue, should consider Sen. Sanders’ stance when casting their vote this Tuesday in the California Primaries.

Author Bio

Aaron Herzberg is a strategist, attorney & entrepreneur specializing in the emerging cannabis industry in California. Mr. Herzberg is a partner at CalCann Holdings, Inc., a California Medical Marijuana holding company, where he and his partners are building a portfolio of licensed medical marijuana businesses and properties in Southern California. Aaron has been successful in raising over $9 million in investment capital in these projects since January 2015, including three licensed dispensaries in Santa Ana, California and two soon to be opened licensed dispensaries in Santa Ana, California.