Hillary Clinton Still Out of Touch on Marijuana with Democrats, All Young Voters


Hillary Clinton was crushed by 17-29 year-old voters in Iowa, as Bernie Sanders defeated the Democratic frontrunner 84%-14%. At the New Hampshire town hall, hosted by CNN, the former Secretary of State demonstrated that she is still severely out of touch on marijuana. Not only is she out of touch with young Democrats, but with Democrats across the board and young voters, regardless of party.

Many pundits and commentators may scoff at voters putting an emphasis on cannabis policy, but the executive policy says a lot more than just what a candidate thinks about someone using marijuana. The next president’s policy on cannabis will greatly impact the economy across the country, not to mention the lives of patients and providers.

Hillary Clinton, not surprisingly has taken a very pragmatic approach to marijuana, basically pledging to follow in President Obama’s cautious footsteps and supporting moving marijuana from a Schedule I federally controlled substance to Schedule II. The problem with such a pragmatic approach is that millions of lives that could be improved by true access to medical cannabis won’t occur fast enough and the lives of providers and business people, following state law, can still be ruined by federal prosecutors, whether the Cole Memo is still in effect or not. People of color, disproportionately hurt by the war on marijuana, will still be arrested and cited for minor marijuana offenses; to some, particularly those in poverty, these minor offenses can have grave consequences.

This rather conservative, certainly not progressive, approach to cannabis is simply bad politics. A majority of Americans support the position shared by Senator Bernie Sanders, ending federal prohibition and simply treating marijuana like we do beer and wine. If Hillary Clinton wins the nomination, she will need the channel some of the enthusiasm of those that #FeelTheBern. Moving more progressive on marijuana, while it won’t bring along all of the Bernie supporters, it can’t hurt.

Featured photo credit: Jim Cole (Associated Press/File)

Anthony Johnson

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.