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Throwback Thursday: The First Presidential Candidate To Pitch Legalization

Democratic presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton have gained attention by pledging to reform America's cannabis laws.

Sanders has promised to end the federal prohibition of cannabis, which would allow states to regulate marijuana like tobacco and alcohol. Meanwhile, Clinton promises to reschedule cannabis as a banned substance so its medical uses and health effects can be tested.

But they aren't the first contenders for the Oval Office to pitch overhauling America's marijuana laws. That honor goes to Ron Paul, a former Republican congressman from Texas who pledged to legalize all drugs back in 1988 when he ran for the Libertarian Party.

"There should be no controls on [drug] production, supply or purchase [for adults]," Paul wrote in an article published by the libertarian magazine Reason in 1988. He went on to blame prohibition for the rise of the black market in America.

In an address to NORML that year, he condemned the hypocrisy of prohibiting drugs such as cannabis while allowing alcohol consumption:

But Americans didn't buy into Paul's plan. He finished third in the popular vote behind George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis. But Paul maintained his pro-legalization stance when he ran again in 2008 and 2012.

For an overview of other early attempts to reform America's cannabis laws, check out this piece by Forbes.

h/t Forbes, Reason, Mic


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