Republican voters hoping for cannabis reform will have to choose among lesser evils now. Kentucky Senator Rand Paul announced he is dropping his bid for the Republican presidential nomination today. Paul was by far the most progressive of his GOP rivals on the cannabis issue, receiving a grade of A- from the Marijuana Policy Project.
The libertarian-minded Paul was adamant about reforming America's drug laws. He co-sponsored the CARERS Act, a bipartisan Senate bill that would reschedule cannabis and allow states to legalize and regulate medical marijuana programs. And he co-sponsored the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act, which would help legal marijuana enterprises conduct business with banks.
During a Reddit AMA Jan. 21, he also made this campaign promise:
That position is strikingly similar to Bernie Sanders' stance. But hopes of Republican voters feeling some rightwing Bern ended after Paul trailed dismally in national polls and finished fifth in Iowa, reaping less than five percent of the vote. And things didn't stand to get much better for him. He was in a three-way tie for fourth place in New Hampshire's Feb. 9 primary, according to a CNN/WMUR poll.
But Paul's campaign wasn't for naught. Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project told Civilized:
"It is disappointing to see Paul dropping out given his previous statements regarding states rights when it comes to marijuana policy and his general disdain for the War on Drugs. However, his positions have helped move the conversation forward nationally and among all the presidential candidates, and politicians at every level are starting to get more in line with the majority of Americans who want to see marijuana prohibition end."
And this is not the last we'll hear from Paul. He will now focus on winning re-election in the senate, where he can continue to help move forward the CARERS Act, and other initiatives to reform the nation's drug laws.