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Here's Where Republican Presidential Candidates Stand On Cannabis

Want to know where the Republican presidential candidates stand on cannabis? This list is for you. To whet your appetite for the showdown in Des Moines this Thursday (Jan. 28) - where GOP frontrunners will meet for the last debate before primary season kicks off Feb. 1 in Iowa - we've put together a list of the leading 10 candidates' stances on cannabis.

Here they are ranked by their grades from the Marijuana Policy Project.

1. Rand Paul, A- (campaign suspended)

Christopher Halloran /

The Kentucky senator is easily the most outspoken Republican candidate when it comes to reforming America's drug laws. He also co-introduced the CARERS Act - a bipartisan Senate bill that would reschedule cannabis and allow states to legalize and regulate medical marijuana programs.

2. Mike Huckabee, B- (campaign suspended)

Christopher Halloran /

"Marijuana has never made anybody a better citizen," the former Arkansas governor said during an interview on KCCI News on Oct. 17, 2015. But he also said he's open to changing his mind if things pan out in states that legalize:

"I'm willing to let states operate under the 10th Amendment, and I'm willing for the states, if they think that marijuana and the legalization of it is a great thing...I'm willing for them to experiment and find out. And it if it works and it turns out that the presence of recreational marijuana makes them a more prosperous state - that their workers are more productive, parents are better parents and teachers are better teachers - well heck, we may just all want to reach out there and grab that."

3. Ted Cruz, C

Christopher Halloran /

On Apr. 16, 2015, the Texas senator told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt that he would vote against legalization if it became a ballot question in Texas. But Cruz also stressed that he respects the rights of states to choose, and he wants to study the effects of legalization closely:

I think it is appropriate for the federal government to recognize that the citizens of those states have made that decision, and one of the benefits of we can now watch and see what happens in Colorado and Washington State. There have been lots of theoretical arguments for a long time about the consequences of legalizing marijuana. We can now see. If those states suddenly see a dramatic increase in teen drug use, if they see a dramatic increase in crime, if they see significant harmful effects coming from it, I suspect other states are going to be far less eager to walk down that road.

So it's up to legal states to prove Cruz wrong by becoming exemplars instead of cautionary tales.

4. Carly Fiorina, C+ (campaign suspended)

Rich Koele /

During a Jun. 9, 2015 appearance on "Fox and Friends," the former Hewlett-Packard CEO said legalization sends the wrong message to young Americans, but she also pledged to respect each state's right to decide marijuana's fate:

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. But I think Colorado voters made a choice, I don't support their choice, but I do support their right to make that choice.

But she also thinks prohibition sends the wrong message. In a conference call with reporters on May 4, 2015, she said: "Drug addiction shouldn't be criminalized. We need to treat it appropriately."

5. Donald Trump, C+

Christopher Halloran /

At a CPAC conference in June 2015, the billionaire magnate said he was strongly against recreational legalization, but supported medical marijuana.

But he won't let personal misgivings get in the way of a state's right to legalize. At a rally in Reno, Nevada on Oct. 29, he said: "In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state."

6. Jeb Bush, C- (campaign suspended)

CJ Hanevy /

During an an interview with Joe Mathieu of Boston's WBZ NewsRadio in December 2015, the former Florida governor said he supported decriminalization:

It's one thing to say we should have decriminalization of marijuana. I support that. Non-violent offenders should not be crowding out our jails and our prisons.

But in the same interview, Bush also perpetuated an age-old prohibition myth:

Marijuana is a gateway drug just as opiates are a gateway drug. Of course it is - every study shows that.

7. John Kasich, C-

Michael Vadon /

The Ohio governor told Hugh Hewitt that he's "totally opposed" to legalizing cannabis, which he called "a scourge." During the Apr. 21, 2015 interview, Kasich also promised to oppose any attempts to soften America's drug laws:

If I happened to be president, I would lead a significant campaign down at the grassroots level to stomp these drugs out of our country.

In the past, he's also opposed medical marijuana.

8. Ben Carson, D

Crush Rush /

The former neurosurgeon is of two minds on the cannabis issue.

During a town-hall meeting in Panora, Iowa on Jan. 6, Carson told the mother of an epileptic child, "Medical marijuana has proven its benefit and it should be rescheduled, there's no question about that." But when the subject turned to legalizing recreational cannabis use, he said: "I don't want to do that."

Indeed, Carson is militantly opposed: during an interview with Glenn Beck on Oct. 21, 2015, Carson said he would "intensify" the War on Drugs if he were elected president.

9. Marco Rubio, D

Rich Koele /

During an interview with Hugh Hewitt on Apr. 14, 2015, the Florida senator said he plans to enforce federal law for the sake of the children:

I think we need to enforce our federal laws....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.

Meanwhile, alcohol's ears were burning.

10. Chris Christie, F (campaign suspended)

Rich Koele /

The New Jersey governor wants residents in legal states to smoke it while they've got it. During a town-hall meeting in Newport, New Hampshire in July 2015, Christie promised to enforce federal prohibition nationwide - even in the legal states - if he gets elected:

If you're getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it. As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.

h/t KCCI News, Hugh Hewitt, The Hill, Washington Post, C-Span, WBZ NewsRadio, WLWT, Bloomberg


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