Democratic presidential candidate Hilary Clinton is gradually teasing out her position on reforming federal laws on medical marijuana use, though she still will not commit to legalizing recreational use.
At a town hall meeting in South Carolina Saturday, she said marijuana should be reclassified as a Schedule II drug so that its medical uses could be properly studied and improved upon.
"The problem with medical marijuana is there's a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions. But we haven't done any research," Clinton told the audience at Claflin University. "Why? Because it's considered what's called a Schedule I drug and you can't even do research in it."
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders - who introduced a bill in the Senate last week that would end the federal prohibition on cannabis - said that under Clinton's plan possessing cannabis would remain a crime at the federal level.
"I am glad to see Secretary Clinton is beginning to address an issue that my legislation addressed," he said, "but her approach ignored the major issue. Secretary Clinton would classify marijuana in the same category as cocaine and continue to make marijuana a federally regulated substance.
"If we are serious about criminal justice reform and preventing many thousands of lives from being impacted because of criminal convictions for marijuana possession," he added, "we must remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and allow states the right to go forward, if they choose, to legalize marijuana without federal legal impediments."
Tom Angell, chairman of the Marijuana Majority, told CNN Clinton's new position doesn't go far enough toward protecting medical marijuana patients.
"The rescheduling of marijuana is a step in the right direction, but only going down to Schedule II is mostly a symbolic move," said Angell. "It may make research slightly easier, but on its own wouldn't do anything to protect seriously ill people who are using marijuana in accordance with state laws from being harassed by the DEA. Only changing the federal criminal statutes can effectively do that."
Here's Clinton's full statement at Claflin University in Orangeburg.