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Here's Where Potential Republican Vice President Candidates Stand On Marijuana

Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump supports medical marijuana, and he's vowed to respect each state's right to legalize recreational use. But will his vice president be onboard with his relatively progressive stance?

Here's where the prospective choices for Trump's running stand on the marijuana issue, based on CNN's list of likely VP candidates.

1. Newt Gingrich

The former Speaker of the House has been both progressive and backward on the marijuana issue. As a Georgia Rep. in 1981, Gingrich introduced a bill to Congress that would have legalized medical marijuana, which made him seem far ahead of his time. However, he made himself look backward in 1996, when he introduced a bill that would have imposed the death penalty on Americans found guilty of repeatedly smuggling drugs - including marijuana.

During his 2012 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Gingrich reaffirmed his opposition to legalizing recreational use.

2. Mary Fallin

The Oklahoma Governor has been in the marijuana newsfeed recently for liberalizing her state's marijuana laws. On May 2, she signed legislation to reduce mandatory minimum sentences for cannabis possession. And on May 14, she signed a bill expanding access to the CBD oil, a non-psychoactive cannabis extract used medicinally. But she remains opposed to legalizing other forms of medical marijuana, let alone allowing recreational use in Oklahoma.

3. Jeff Sessions

"Good people don't smoke marijuana," the Alabama Senator said during an April hearing of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control. The meeting was convened to call out the Obama Administration for deciding not to enforce cannabis prohibition in Colorado and other legal states. Sessions' longstanding opposition to reforming America's marijuana laws have earned him an 'F' from NORML, which graded each Congressperson's stance on marijuana earlier this spring.

4. Joni Ernst

Medical marijuana is available in half of U.S. States, but Iowa isn't one of them. And Senator Joni Ernst wants to keep it that way until there is concrete proof that cannabis is safe. On Apr. 16, 2016, she told reporters, "What I would like to see happen first is to see concrete medical evidence that this can be appropriately controlled and utilized in a very controlled manner. I would like to see additional research done on medical marijuana before we throw it at Iowans."

Senator Ernst made those remarks when asked about the Iowa legislature's bill to legalize medical marijuana in the Hawkeye State.

5. Rick Perry

Flickr / Gage Skidmore

The former Texas governor opposes legalizing recreational marijuana use. But he does support cannabis decriminalization as a way to prevent people's lives from being ruined by having criminal records. And he supports each state's right to decide the legality of marijuana:

"I defend the right of Colorado to be wrong on that issue," Perry said at a summit of conservative voters in June of last year, when he was still in the running for the Republican presidential nomination.

6. Chris Christie

The New Jersey Governor has made it clear that he will veto any attempt to legalize recreational marijuana use in the Garden State. And while he was still campaigning for the Republican presidential nomination, he vowed to crack down on legal states. "If you're getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it," he said in July of last year. "As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws."

7. Marco Rubio

Governor Christie wasn't the only Republican candidate vowing to revive the War on Drugs. In April 2015, he said that he opposed to legalization, and he would enforce federal law in legal states if he became president.

"I don't believe we should be in the business of legalizing additional intoxicants in this country for the primary reason that when you legalize something, what you're sending a message to young people is it can't be that bad, because if it was that bad, it wouldn't be legal."

8. Susana Martinez

Believe it or not, the New Mexico governor is even more anti-marijuana than Christie and Rubio. In 2011, she told New Mexicans that she opposes the state's medical marijuana program, but she was willing to allow it to keep functioning because there were more pressing legislative issues to tackle. In 2014, she called cannabis decriminalization a "horrible, horrible idea" because she thinks it will make marijuana more accessible to youth. And in 2015, she used her gubernatorial powers to veto hemp research.

9. Rick Scott

The Florida governor might be the biggest wild card in terms of the marijuana issue. In January 2014, he told Florida voters that he was opposed to a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana.

"I have a great deal of empathy for people battling difficult diseases and I understand arguments in favor of this initiative," he said in a statement. "But, having seen the terrible affects [sic] of alcohol and drug abuse first-hand, I cannot endorse sending Florida down this path and I would personally vote against it."

But then he surprised commentators by signing a bill into law that allowed patients to use CBD oil, the non-psychoactive cannabis extract used to treat conditions such as severe epilepsy. So maybe he'll continue warming to the issue.

10. Rob Portman

When Ohio considered legalizing recreational marijuana use in 2015, Senator Portman was one of the biggest opponents. He sees legalization as "throw[ing] in the towel" in the War on Drugs. But he does support changing tactics in the drug war, combating the issue with counselling and education instead of imprisonment.

"What I support is a whole different approach with regard to drug use, and that is spending less money on the prosecution and incarceration side and more money on prevention and education, which I know works," he said in May 2015.

11. Your choice

Do you like any of the candidates above, or would you rather have someone else on the GOP ticket? Let us know in the comments section below.


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