As the 2018 Congressional Primaries approach, you may be wondering where Claire McCaskill (D-MO) stands on cannabis legalization. Medical marijuana is on the ballot this year in the Show-Me State, and Senator McCaskill is sure to highlight her public proclamation of support for medicinal cannabis earlier this year as she seeks re-election this fall.
A former attorney, Claire Conner McCaskill began her political career in the Missouri House of Representatives, serving from 1982 to 1988, and she made history in 1992 by becoming the first woman to be elected Jackson County Prosecutor. While heading the largest prosecutor's office in Missouri, McCaskill spearheaded the region's first domestic violence units and established one of the nation's first drug courts. In 1999, McCaskill was appointed as the Missouri Auditor, and she held that position until 2006 when she was elected (as the first woman from the state) the United States Senate – the same seat once held by President Harry Truman.
Sen. McCaskill was staunchly against any reform of the country's cannabis laws until very recently. In 2015, McCaskill told the Branson Tri-Lake News that “I don’t think there are enough seniors that realize that there are some therapeutic benefits to medical marijuana, marijuana that you consume opposed to smoke when you’re young and in a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.”
At a town hall meeting at Harris-Stowe State University at the end of January this year, Sen. McCaskill again voiced her support for medical cannabis, saying “I support medical marijuana in Missouri. I think it’s the right way to go.”
The Senator from Missouri even said she might even support recreational marijuana, citing her work as a Kansas City prosecutor developing a program called drug courts, but that she was facing resistance from law enforcement officers, saying:
“By the way, I got a lot of pushback. The police officers that did drug crimes, they said, ‘Claire, let me get this straight. We’re gonna go in a drug house and bust these guys, and then you’re gonna give them a bus pass and job training?’ I said, ‘That’s exactly right.’”
The senator made the comments as part of her campaign to reach out to minority communities, adding that the program was a success with the police department drug task force eventually agreeing with her.
Our Grade: B
Even though Senator McCaskill has not always supported reform of cannabis laws in the United States, her recent show of support for medical marijuana as well as her openness to considering the benefits of recreational cannabis is welcome news.