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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

V.G.I.P. Update - October 2016 - by Rachel Bunting

      The November election is approaching quickly, and a big part of the voting process is being informed so this month we would like to educate our readers on where our presidential choices stand on marijuana. It seems every candidate has changed their opinion on the topic over the years but we will be focusing on their current comments regarding cannabis. The current options for president are frontrunners Hillary Clinton (Democratic choice) and Donald Trump (Republican choice), with Jill Stein (Green Party) and Gary Johnson (Libertarian) as our third party choices.

         Hillary Clinton, by definition of being Democratic, is more open minded to the idea of marijuana though has not been completely clear on her stance. She believes that states should create their own policies regarding marijuana, but has commented she supports laws in relation to medical marijuana and feels incarceration is too harsh a punishment for marijuana use. Clinton does support changing the schedule status of the plant to schedule II instead of remaining classified in the same category as heroin. She has reportedly stated, “I think that states are the laboratories of democracy, and four states have already taken action to legalize, and it will be important that other states and the federal government take account of how that’s being done, what we learn from what they’re doing. I think that the states moving forward is appropriate and I think the federal government has to move to make this more available for research that they can then distribute to interested people across our country. I do think on the federal level we need to remove marijuana from the Schedule I of drugs, move it to Schedule II, which will permit it to be the basis for medical research because it’s important that we learn as much as possible. And since it was a Schedule I drug we haven’t done that research. A lot of experts in the field are telling me we’ve got to learn a lot more.” WBZ NewsRadio,  January 25, 2016

     Libertarian Gary Johnson is a former Governor of New Mexico. Johnson is a complete advocate for legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. The candidate was previously the CEO of a medical marijuana business and has openly discussed his own marijuana use. He endorsed state ballot initiatives to legalize recreational adult use in Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington. Johnson would like to see cannabis removed from the federal drug schedule as well as allowing states to legalize and regulate it without federal interference. Gary has posted his thoughts to his Presidential Campaign Website saying, “Over time, the politicians have ‘criminalized’ far too many aspects of people’s personal lives. The failed War on Drugs is, of course, the greatest example. Well over 100 million Americans have, at one time or another, used marijuana. Yet, today, simple possession and use of marijuana remains a crime — despite the fact that a majority of Americans now favor its legalization…Imagine [the Founding Fathers’] shock to learn that the government has decided it is appropriate to tell adults what they can put in their bodies — and even put them in jail for using marijuana, while allowing those same adults to consume alcohol and encouraging the medical profession to pump out addictive, deadly painkillers at will.”

     The Green Party Nominee Jill Stein is a medical doctor who would also like to legalize and regulate both medical and recreational marijuana. She wants the federal government to stop harassing and interfering with medical marijuana clinics and related businesses. While she has yet to state if she would remove marijuana from the schedule altogether she has commented that she would remove it from its current status and place it in a more reasonable category. According to her Campaign Website, “It’s time to take marijuana off the black market, end crime and violence related to marijuana trafficking, stop wasting money and ruining lives by prosecuting victimless crimes, reduce prison populations, increase tax revenue, allow sick people their medicine, let farmers grow marijuana and hemp, and give responsible adults their freedom by legalizing it!”

    Donald Trump is by far the most talked about candidate for his outspoken views, but has been less outspoken about his marijuana views. When he was interviewed by the Miami Herald in 1990, Trump was in favor of legalizing all drugs to win the war on drugs by taking profits away from cartels. Now that he is the Republican candidate, however, those views have actually been reigned in and he feels that medical marijuana is the way to go.  He said he believes in states choosing to set their own marijuana policies relating to recreational use. According to the Washington Post Trump comments on marijuana were, “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. … Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — 
right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it 
up to the states.”

      Each Presidential Candidate understands that marijuana is a hot topic in the country right now but only two are really willing to get involved at the federal level with the others preferring to stay away and leave the decision making to the states. This is just one topic of many that should be considered before choosing which candidate deserves the vote. To learn more about each candidate and where they stand on important topics please visit:

Hillary Clinton:

Jill Stein:

Gary Johnson:

Donald Trump:

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