Texas Senator Ted Cruz is arguably the most progressive Republican presidential candidate on the issue of marijuana reform. But the tone of his campaign will likely shift now that he has chosen Carly Fiorina - former Hewlett-Packard CEO and former rival for the GOP nomination - as his vice-presidential candidate. Here's what the Cruz-Fiorina ticket will likely stand on marijuana legalization.
More prohibition rhetoric
Being the most progressive Republican candidate on the issue of cannabis doesn't take much. Like rival Donald Trump, Cruz supports each state's right to decide whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana use. Unlike his other rival - Ohio Governor John Kasich - Cruz hasn't vowed to campaign against marijuana legalization if he became president. What makes Cruz the most progressive candidate is that he's not as critical of legalization as Trump and Kasich. And he's the most willing to let states decide the issue.
Like Cruz, Florina supports states' rights to legalize, but she forcefully makes the case that they'd be making the wrong choice. "I think Colorado voters made a choice, I don't support their choice, but I do support their right to make that choice."
"I don't support legalized marijuana for a whole host of reasons, including the fact that this is a very complex chemical substance, and when we tell young people it is just like drinking a beer, we are not telling them the truth," she said on the campaign trail in June 2015.
"I remember when I had cancer and my doctor said, 'Do you have any interest in medicinal marijuana?' I did not. And they said, 'Good, because marijuana today is such a complex compound, we don't really know what's in it, we don't really know how it interacts with other substances or other medicines'."
She does support decriminalization
Shutterstock / Christopher Halloran
Fiorina opposes legalizing marijuana because of personal tragedy. In 2009, one of her step daughters died after a long struggle with alcohol and drug abuse. She believes that legalization will put more people like her stepdaughter in danger.
"We are misleading people when we say that marijuana is just like having a beer. It's not. And the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago....We need to tell children the truth. Drug addiction is an epidemic," she said during the September 16 Republican presidential debate. "And it has taken too many of our young people. I know this, sadly, from personal experience."
While the loss of her stepdaughter has influenced her opposition to marijuana legalization, it also led her to support drug decriminalization. "Drug addiction shouldn't be criminalized," Fiorina told supporters in May 2015. "We need to treat it appropriately" by "decriminalizing drug addiction and drug use."
"We do need criminal justice reform," she said during the September debate. "We have the highest incarceration rates in the world. Two thirds of the people in our prisons are there for non-violent offenses, mostly drug related. It's clearly not working."
So Fiorina is against legalizing marijuana, but she would also change the way it is enforced, focusing on treatment instead of incarceration. And if Cruz adopted that position as well as FIorina's criticism of marijuana use, his stance on cannabis would become both slightly more and slightly less progressive than it was before.
banner image: Flickr / Gage Skidmore