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These Are Your 2016 Presidential Nominees (And Their Stances On Marijuana)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made history June 7 by winning enough delegates to become the first female presidential candidate for a major political party in American history. Here's where Clinton and her rivals for the 45th presidency stand on the marijuana issue.

Hillary Clinton, Democrat

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The presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party has shown support for legalizing medical and recreational marijuana. But she wants to let individual states, rather than the White House, take the lead on the issue.

"I think what the states are doing right now needs to be supported," she told Jimmy Kimmel in March 2015. "And I absolutely support all the states that are moving toward medical marijuana, moving toward - absolutely - legalizing it for recreational use."

It's not entirely clear from that comment that she personally supports legalizing marijuana for recreational use, or if she's just saying it's okay for the states to make that call themselves. In a "Good Morning America" town hall discussion in late April, she side-stepped a question about her own personal views on legalization.

She's also tentative in her support for medical marijuana. As president, she would change cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug in the Controlled Substances Act so that researchers can study its medical benefits and side effects thoroughly. That research could lead to the federal government officially recognizing marijuana as medicine.

Donald Trump, Republican

Shutterstock / a katz

The billionaire business magnate is arguably backward on numerous issues, including immigration and the treatment of minority groups in America. But he is relatively progressive on the marijuana issue. Trump doesn't endorse recreational use, but he does support each state's right to legalize cannabis, and he's in favor of medical marijuana.

"I think it certainly has to be... a state decision," he told WWJ Newsradio 950 last March. "There seems to be certain health problems with it, and that would be certainly bothersome. I do like it... from a medical standpoint - it does do pretty good things. But from the other standpoint, I think that should be up to the states. Certainly, from a medical standpoint, a lot of people are liking it."

But will he stick with that position? His views on marijuana have already changed drastically since April 1990, when his stance was more progressive than anyone running in 2016. "We're losing badly the war on drugs," Trump told a crowd at a luncheon held by The Miami Herald. "You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars."

Gary Johnson, Libertarian

Shutterstock / Christopher Halloran

With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (unofficially) out of the running for the Democratic presidential nomination, the most progressive candidate on the issue becomes Gary Johnson. The former New Mexico governor has been outspoken in repealing cannabis prohibition since 2000, when he told constituents, "we ought to legalize marijuana."

He is also the most outspoken about his personal use. In 2010, Johnson revealed that he used marijuana medicinally between 2005-2008 while recovering from a paragliding injury. He had previously admitted to using marijuana recreationally in his youth, but he gave it up because smoking hindered his skiing and rock-climbing ability.

In 2011, Johnson took his promise to reform America's drug laws even further by pledging to disarm the War on Drugs and offer reparations to cannabis convicts. While speaking as a candidate for the 2012 republican presidential nomination, Johnson said, "I would do everything I can to defang the DEA." And he promised to pardon non-violent marijuana offenders via executive order.

Since then, his support for legalization has remained consistent.

Jill Stein, Green

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

Physician-turned-politician Jill Stein is Johnson's only competition as the most progressive presidential candidate on the cannabis issue. The presumptive Green Party nominee sees legalization as fundamental to her party's cause.

"Make no mistake, ending marijuana prohibition would be a huge win for freedom and social justice, and a major step towards the just, Green future we deserve," she wrote on her campaign website.

Ending prohibition appears at the top of the list of criminal justice reforms included in her presidential platform, which promises to end the War on Drugs, legalize marijuana and hemp, treat substance abuse as a health problem instead of a crime, and release non-violent drug offenders from prison while also expunging those offences from their criminal records.

h/t CNN, The Hill, The Atlantic, Reason, Weekly Standard, New Republic, Washington Times

Banner Image: Trump: Joseph Sohm / | Clinton: Krista Kennell /


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