Clinton: It’s ‘Appropriate’ for States to Legalize Marijuana

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reiterated her support for letting states legalize marijuana without federal interference in an interview on Monday.

“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,” said Clinton, a former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, in an interview with Boston’s WBZ radio. “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.”

Clinton’s chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, also supports letting states set their own marijuana laws but has gone even further to say that he would personally vote for legalization if it were on the ballot.

In the radio interview Clinton also called for reclassifying marijuana out of its current status under Schedule I, the most restrictive category, which is supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value.

“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,” she said. “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.”

Sanders, for his part, supports removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act altogether and has introduced legislation to do so.

In October, Clinton told a Denver TV station that it is “important that states like Colorado lead the way, so that we can learn what works and what doesn’t work. And I would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal decision made by the people of Colorado, and enforced by your elected officials, as to how you should be conducting this business that you have approved. So, no, I want to give you the space and I want other states to learn from you, what works and what doesn’t work.”

In an earlier interview she said, “The feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states, so there can’t be a total absence of law enforcement.”

Fellow Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley, a former Maryland governor who trails far behind Clinton and Sanders in the polls, also supports rescheduling marijuana and letting states implement their own laws without federal interference.

Most candidates in the race for the Republican presidential nomination have also said they think marijuana is an issue for states to decide, with the notable exceptions of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who say they would enforce federal laws even in states that have voted to end prohibition.

The Iowa Caucuses, the first official contests of the 2016 presidential cycle, are on Monday, February 1.

See Marijuana.com’s comprehensive candidate tracker to see what else Clinton, Sanders and other presidential contenders have said about cannabis issues.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

24 Comments

  1. Republicans still standing in the way of relegalizing #marijuana. Hillary still OK with having cops in between you and your weed despite saying it’s OK to have states decide. She is gonna babystep the issue to death.

    Bernie’s the only one who has submitted legislation to eliminate this stupid problem.

    • James DuMouchel on

      “(B)abystep the issue to death.” Thanks for the illuminating phraseology! Hadn’t heard that one before, but it’s very descriptive; thank you!

    • Lawrence Goodwin on

      It’s way beyond “stupid,” it’s intentional fraud imposed on the whole country for almost 80 years (anti-“marihuana” enforcement is a small part of the much larger “military-industrial complex” about which President Dwight Eisenhower, a decorated military man, warned us in very stark terms before he left office). One mean and stubborn Republican, Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, today does the bidding of a multitude of corporate masters behind anti-“marihuana” fraud. I urge everyone to inundate the D.C. office of Grassley, chair of the Judiciary Committee, with polite but firm phone calls. His number is 202-224-3744. Day after day he single-handedly blocks progress for the proposed Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act—the first piece of federal legislation in 45 unbearable years that would restore a level of justice nationwide in relation to cannabis plants. I see no reason why Grassley shouldn’t just enjoy some grass and smile as he lets that smart bill pass. Cannabis grows legally, as demanded by voters, all across D.C.!!!!!!

  2. Hmmm… xxdr_zombiexx posts and the post goes up within 4 minutes. I post with a link to another site (which I deleted) and am still waiting for moderation at 7 minutes and counting. Captive audience, anyone? Which do you care about the most; legalization or keeping your readers onsite to generate ad revenue?

    • I don’t know why but a lot of comment boards hold any comment with a URL in it even if it’s a dot gov extension.

  3. Hills is waffling just like every other politician. She cares less about weed than anyone because only money wins the presidency and pot is about control and money and corporate designs…
    Never has been about what is appropriate.

  4. If you say you are for letting states decide their marijuana laws, how could you not be for removing cannabis from scheduling and actually let states legalize without federal interference? Moving it to schedule 2 doesn’t do anything to protect states, the only thing that does is, makes it a tad easier to do medical studies. Re-scheduling it to 2 does not in anyway change the penalties for possessing / using. It’s a cop out and the only candidate to actually take a stance that supports states rights, is Bernie Sanders! My vote is for the one who will actually end this hypocrisy culture war against Americans, the only one who seems to be standing up for American rights, Mr. Sanders!

    • Lawrence Goodwin on

      Moving “marihuana” to Schedule II would be a start, Von, which is bound to result in an explosion of domestic cannabis research freed of Drug Enforcement Administration interference (that research should lead to complete removal from the Controlled Substances Act before long). I’m certain that, in 2016, we’d already have full cannabis legalization in all 50 states had the DEA instituted the findings of its own judge, Francis Young, in 1988–almost 28 YEARS ago–when he strongly recommended moving “marihuana” to Schedule II. It’s encouraging to hear Ms. Clinton, the first woman in U.S. history to be practically guaranteed the presidency, making such proactive statements.

        • Lawrence Goodwin on

          I agree on that last point for sure. We simply can’t trust lawmakers on this subject after they’ve imposed absolute tyranny for 100 years against all domestic and international commerce related to cannabis, coca, and opium poppy—the 3 primary sources of medicine found in nature for hundreds of years prior. The whole ‘drug war’ is one of the biggest unconstitutional FRAUDS ever perpetrated on our country. I’m well aware of the delay tactics used by legions of federal/state/local bureaucrats and agents, who simply do the bidding of large synthetic pharmaceutical/chemical/agricultural companies that profit handsomely as they sicken and poison us. The America we all love, rooted in the Bill of Rights, was pronounced dead the moment President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act in 1913.

          • And that is the very reason I have such an issue with settling for schedule 2. Additionally, cannabis has had what 20,000+ studies done on it in the last 40 years, while the vast majority of them were to prove harm and not benefit, there have been vastly more studies done on this plant than all of the other illicit substances combined, 10 times the studies done on alcohol, 100 times the studies done on Aspirin. How many studies do they need? The ultimate issue, is the government has zero right to dictate by punishment what an adult chooses to put in their body, regardless of personal harm. Using fear of what a person might do if they are inebriated on a substance is the justification many Prohibitionist use, well that too is insane as it presumes guilt prior to actually committing a crime, it’s like charging you with murder for having a weapon in your home before you’ve harmed anyone. It’s like charging someone for rape, who looks at porn. It’s like burning you at the stake because you aren’t of the same religion as your neighbor. It’s the same as making it a crime to be of another race than white. It’s clear to me that our drug laws are immoral and unjust… It’s time our country moves past this dark morally self serving culture war against Americans, end the drug war immediately!

      • “Schedule I Cannabis” is a Damned lie. “Schedule II” will NOT do.

        Cannabis SHALL be removed from CSA “Schedule I”, and instead be placed in “CSA Subchapter I, Part A, §802. Definitions, paragraph (6)”, appended to the list “distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco”, where it will STILL be the least-toxic in the category [by orders of magnitude].

        In other words, it shall be made completely EXEMPT from CSA scheduling, just like whiskey, wine, beer and tobacco…

        Anything short of that is *ABSOLUTELY* unacceptable.

        • Lawrence Goodwin on

          I totally agree, rsteeb. Right on! Our problem is reality on the ground. First we have the agonizingly slow process of changing rigid federal laws, especially the “marihuana” status in Schedule 1. An “epidemic” of heroin and prescription opiod overdoses is reportedly gripping the nation, and many other people are buying that “synthetic cannabinoid” crap (K2, Spice, etc.) and getting sick. This is perhaps the most gridlocked U.S. Congress ever, and not enough lawmakers want to touch ANY type of drug legalization in the run-up to a big election. Even with a majority of 310+ million Americans coming to our side, we may as well try to move Colorado’s highest mountains elsewhere.

          • That’s why it’s President Choom-gang’s moral imperative to executive-order it. Undo Nixon’s abominable crime against humanity, Barry.

  5. Good to hear, Hillary. You’ve got my vote! Bernie may be “better” on this single issue, Hillary fighter, is the most experienced candidate, and is ready to serve as president on day one.

    I live in Oregon and I supported our sucsessful proposition to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis. We did it in Oregon and California may be next. The majority of Californians believe it’s time for a better approach to marijuana, and we will see if a measure makes it on the Nov. 2016 CA ballot. ✌

  6. Christopher Shafer on

    She’s just saying that for added votes.shes been against legalization her whole career as a politician.sanders on thr other hand…he’s legit.

    • Lawrence Goodwin on

      Our presidents are never chosen by voters for a single issue. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will not win the 2016 election because he’s proposing legislation that would finally end federal “marihuana” prohibition. Plus, the current chair of the national Democratic Party, notorious marijuana hater Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of Florida, will never support Sanders (she’ll probably hold her nose for Hillary Clinton because of this news). Moreover, where was opposition to the anti-“marihuana” fraud from Sanders between 1970 and 2015? In those years MILLIONS of Americans were unjustly punished, or forced to suffer without safe and legal access to medical cannabis, while TENS OF BILLIONS were wasted on law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels—the whole time realizing the vision of America from the twisted mind of President Richard Nixon. Most Democrats and Republicans in the U.S. Congress, derelict in their duty to amend the Schedule I status of “marihuana,” are cowards for not balancing that executive power and complicit in the unconstitutional anti-“marihuana” crimes. Sanders just panders for votes, too, in this case among America’s younger voters. That’s what ALL of our politicians do (pander) when they decide to run for office.

  7. The federal government is not going to turn loose its Iron clad grip on Marijuana until it finds away to control it while making the most amount of capital gain. When it was completely illegal, the Billions of dollars the government made by locking up people who where caught with MJ, I personally know a man who’s doing life in prison because they found a Reach in his astray.
    And Hillary, if you did research in to her stock portfolio I’m sure some where in it you would find she has an investment and she’s starting to see the profitable benefits behind marijuana, and there is a study out that shows 80% of people who took some kind of Pharmaceutical medication, gave up the pharmaceutical medicine in favor of Marijuana. That has the BIG Pharmaceutical extortionists and contract killers pissed because now they are loosing there 17 billion dollar a year industry.

    I say we need to elect Bernie Sanders and just make marijuana completely legal, flood the job market with massive number of jobs, opening up the abilities to get All of our Homeless people off the streets and into the work force.

  8. CMK POST: Friday Jan. 29, 2016
    Here in Florida, it seems that the stance candidates have on Medical Marijuana use and on complete legalization of cannabis for adults is an excellent weather vane to see which way the wind blows . . . .

    It is interesting to see, on a number of related issues in this Presidential election, where the candidates of both major political parties, including Independent Senator BERNIE SANDERS and Republican outsider Trump, stand on these hot button public policy issues being debated . . . and what the decision will be by the voters of the United States relating to each subject.

    BERNIE SANDERS, Independent candidate running in Democratic Primary: YES, fully supports legal cannabis use by adults; supports medical marijuana research, use and availability in states where voters have approved either or both. Senator Bernie Sanders introduced the first bill in the U.S. Senate to remove cannabis from the federal Schedule 1 dangerous drug list.
    Bernie would personally vote to approve full legal cannabis by adults (to possess, use and grow on private property and within our own homes), like our RIGHT OF ADULTS TO CANNABIS state constitutional provision for legal cannabis for adults in Florida.

    Hillary Clinton, Democrat establishment (status quo) candidate: NO, would not vote yes. Believes more research should be performed, maybe after Bernie Sanders bill to remove cannabis from the federal Schedule 1 dangerous drug list. (Direct quote from article: “In an earlier interview she said, ‘The feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states, so there can’t be a total absence of law enforcement.’

    Martin O’Malley, the other “establishment” Democratic candidate: Supports rescheduling marijuana and letting states implement their own laws without federal interference. [DOES NOT SUPPORT FULLY LEGAL CANNABIS USE]

    Related issues include:
    Cradle-to-grave universal health care designed to function more effectively, efficiently and compassionately, better than any other medical care system in the world.

    BERNIE SANDERS has long supported such medical care for U.S. citizens . . . Only the best! Bernie is running to implement such a medical care system.

    Hillary Clinton failed about 20 years ago, despite heavy support from the Democratic Party, which was far more “liberal” before Bill and Hillary Clinton took the White House and control over the “established” element of the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party is now largely owned by elements of the 1% wealthy elite politico class, to which Billy and Hillary belong, and large campaign donors to her election campaign, like the large insurance companies and medical care corporations who vigorously support her.

    Republicans oppose non-profit, government run health care systems.

    The honesty and efficiency of tests performed to guarantee safety and effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs, herbal and plant based medicinal compounds, homeopathic remedies, etc. as well as how well and effectively tested is our food by FDA before being as “safe”; i.e. GMO’s, pesticide and herbicides used on food crops, purity of “organic” label, which was tampered with improperly to now permit up to 5% non-organic additives to organic foods.

    BERNIE SANDERS wants better, more efficient FDA and better testing schedules, procedures and honest results reflecting accurate tests. No to GMO’s in food! Supports honest labeling of food product sources; of identifying all ingredients in food, and organic label remaining fully 100 % organic.

    Hillary Clinton: Pretty much remain with the status quo . . . Perhaps a “tweak” here and there.

    Republicans oppose the FDA in most every way.

    The intersection of the best interest’s of U.S. citizens with the polluting presence and the muddying interference of large corporation campaign donations which are obviously designed to “buy” elections and elected officials to favor large corporations and the very wealthy.
    BERNIE SANDERS does not and never has in nearly 40 years running for office accepted large or corporate campaign money, which he regards as legalized “bribery” in politics.

    Hillary Clinton: She and Bill Clinton made it their life long quest to use the political arena to accumulate wealth, power and fame . . . they give and freely take large campaign donations and believe such to be helpful to them, if not to the fortunes of the United States remaining free

    Republicans, like the Democratic “establishment” (meaning money) have no problem with allowing the wealthy to buy elections through secret campaign donations and wealthy donors in the corners, handing out millions.

    Most of them are super wealthy, particularly the folks who are among the corrupt 1% super-wealthy elite class wishing to control America, like Trump and the long term powerful, corrupt Republicans of the Bush Dynasty, now represented by Jeb? Bush.

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