Marijuana became a topic of discussion last night at the first Democratic debate. The two leading candidates from the Democratic Party, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, were both pro-marijuana, but one was more favorable than the other.
Where do the candidates stand?
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said he would vote in favor of a local Nevada measure that would legalize recreational marijuana.
Senator Sanders said, “I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana.”
The former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she was in favor of medical, not recreational marijuana. She, however, did agree with Sanders when it came to reforming the criminal justice system.
Clinton said, “I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.”
We expect marijuana to have a major impact on the outcome of the 2016 election. A number of critical swing states have legalized some form of marijuana and a candidate’s stance on marijuana could impact the outcome in these states. The presence of a marijuana initiative on any state ballot will also result in a significant increase in voter turnout.
Currently, 40 states have legalized some form of marijuana and researchers expect recreational marijuana to be on the ballot in at least 5 states in 2016. The marijuana issue may still be in its infancy, but the 2016 election will serve as a catalyst for it legalization.