As we look towards the 2018 United States Congressional Primary season, you might be wondering where Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) stands on cannabis legalization. The senior senator of the Wolverine State, and one of the Democratic Party's top leaders, is usually described as a “rank-and-file” Democrat who's a strong advocate for protecting the Great Lakes and American workers. Senator Stabenow will seek her re-election for a fourth six-year term this fall.
Before entering public service, Deborah Ann Greer "Debbie" Stabenow worked as a social worker, was a member of the Ingham County Board of Commissioners, and served in both of Michigan's legislative houses, where she became the first woman to preside over the Michigan House of Representatives. Stabenow was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Michigan's 8th congressional district from 1997-2001 before becomming her home state's first female U.S. Senator in 2000. During her time in the Senate, Stabenow has served as Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee (2011-2015), and she became Chair of the Senate Democratic Policy Committee in 2017.
When it comes to her stance on cannabis legalization, Senator Stabenow has offered neither strong support nor condemnation of the of the overwhelming national support for ending marijuana prohibition, though early in her political career, she voted against subjecting federal employees to random drug tests (1998) and against prohibiting medical cannabis in Washington D.C. (1999). Stabenow has yet to vote on a major policy or offer a sponsorship to loosen federal policy on cannabis, and her silence during an election year stands in stark contrast to progressive Independent candidate Marcia Squier, who supports legalizing marijuana at the federal level and has made it a pillar of her campaign platform.
Since Democratic Michigan voters have made clear their support for legalizing cannabis outright, and it is widely believed that Senator Stabenow should take a more public stance on this subject and others if she hopes to keep progressive and independent voters from abandoning her this fall.
Our Grade: C+
Her neutral stance on cannabis legalization thus far has been better than a voice in favor of cannabis prohibition, but she should tell voters more about where she stands on the subject before her silence hurts her in her race for re-election.