Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) had already won the hearts and minds of many cannabis law reform advocates before the first Democratic presidential debate by stating that he would personally vote “YES” on marijuana legalization and called for reforming our failed War on Drugs. Hillary Clinton provided good answers as well, agreeing on the need for criminal justice reform and supporting medical cannabis. Clinton wasn’t prepared to support legalization at the debate, but the day after the debate, she has stated that the federal government shouldn’t interfere with the marijuana laws in Colorado and other states that are leading the way.
In the CNN debate Tuesday, Clinton declined to take a position on the legalization of marijuana, but she was not asked how she would handle state-legalized pot as president.
In contrast with Republican candidate Chris Christie, who wants to use federal power to stop legalized sales of marijuana in states like Colorado, Clinton told 9NEWS, “I want to give you the space” to experiment with pot policy.
“I really believe it’s important that states like Colorado lead the way so we can learn what works and what doesn’t work,” Clinton told 9NEWS political reporter Brandon Rittiman. “I would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal decision made by the people of Colorado.”
The position that the federal government should allow states to be able to legalize without interference is very similar to a statement by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders made during an interview with the Iowa program, Little Village back in early September. Hopefully, whether Sanders or Clinton ultimately wins the Democratic nomination, they consider the fact that federal changes are needed above and beyond just refraining from arresting and prosecuting people for marijuana. For the regulated cannabis systems to truly work in legalized states, marijuana businesses also need effective tax and banking regulations that treat state-regulated cannabis businesses the same as other businesses.
Many may scoff at Clinton’s flip-flop or evolution on the issue, as she opposed marijuana decriminalization during her previous presidential run and hasn’t been even been an outspoken supporter of medicinal cannabis until last night, but cannabis law reform advocates have to be pleased with how cannabis policy has been shaping up during the Democratic primary battle. All Democratic candidates seem to want to move forward towards a sane cannabis policy that doesn’t lock people in cages for marijuana, and that is progress, political cynicism or not.
The video of Clinton’s interview. Marijuana issue starts at 1:30: