By Tim Devaney, Contributor
cannabis Washington, D.C. -- Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton is facing pressure from marijuana advocates ahead of the first debate. As more states legalize medical and recreational marijuana, a number of presidential candidates from both sides of the aisle have called for looser drug policies to varying degrees.
Marijuana advocates say it is a positive step for their cause, but they would like to see stronger commitments from Clinton and some of the other candidates.
“Hillary is probably the worst of the bunch on marijuana reform, and even she has said states should be ‘laboratories of democracy’ when it comes to legalization,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies at the Marijuana Policy Project, comparing Clinton to the other Democratic candidates.
Marijuana advocates say they’ve come a long way from previous presidential elections when the candidates would avoid the issue. Riffle admits Clinton is “pretty good on the issue.” But she has not taken as strong of a stand as some of her competitors have, he pointed out.
“It’s just that everyone else has been vocal about the need for reform, while she’s only talked about it when asked,” Riffle explained.
Clinton has been slow to endorse marijuana reform.
By contrast, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed a marijuana decriminalization bill in his state. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley endorses rescheduling marijuana so people caught with the drug would face lesser penalties. Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) has talked about the racial injustices that occur during marijuana arrests. Former Sen. Jim Webb (Va.) made drug policy a key issue in his push for criminal justice reform.
Marijuana advocates say they would like each of the candidates to clarify their positions during the debate.
"All of the candidates that will be on the stage tonight have already expressed support for scaling back the federal government's war on marijuana to some extent, and so I'm most interested in hearing more specifics on what they plan to do to better accommodate the growing number of states that are ending prohibition,” said Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority.
"What changes will they make to federal laws?” Angell asked. "Will they move to reschedule marijuana? Will they use their clemency powers to free people who are in federal prison for marijuana offenses? And do they personally think legalization is a good policy option?"
Source: Hill, The (US DC)
Author: Tim Devaney, Contributor
Published: October 13, 2015
Copyright: 2015 The Hill