Kaine and Clinton Agree: Respect State Marijuana Laws | Marijuana

Kaine and Clinton Agree: Respect State Marijuana Laws


Hillary Clinton’s choice of running mate hasn’t personally been supportive of marijuana law reform but he does like the idea of letting states set their own policies without federal interference.

“I’ve never been a legalization fan. I just haven’t been,” U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) said in a 2014 interview with WMRA radio. “Just for a whole series of both health- and sort of crime-related reasons, I think that would not be a good idea.”

The former governor and lieutenant governor of Virginia and mayor of Richmond added that he does support some amount of sentencing reform for marijuana offenders, however.

“I have generally been for reexamination of sentences because I think often, for sentences for marijuana and marijuana usage, I think some sentences are too strict,” he said. “These are often, if they’re nonviolent crimes, I think it could be handled in a different way on a sentencing standpoint. But in terms of the decriminalization of marijuana, I’ve never been a proponent.”

Speaking to a group of Virginia high school students this March, Kaine similarly said he “support[s]drastic changes in sentencing laws” but “wouldn’t vote for a law at the federal or state level that would decriminalize marijuana.”

Though not personally in favor of ending marijuana prohibition, Kaine did say in a Senate hearing this May that he supports letting states implement their own laws to see what the results are.

“I actually kind of like this notion of the states as labs and they can experiment [with legalizing marijuana]and we can see what happens,” he said.

The comments came in the midst of asking a White House drug policy official whether state marijuana legalization pushes organized crime out of the cannabis market and, if so, whether that causes cartels to increase their efforts to produce and sell other drugs like heroin.

Kaine hasn’t added his name as a co-sponsor of any of the ten cannabis law reform bills pending in the Senate, and he hasn’t had the opportunity to cast votes on any marijuana amendments, all of which have been brought up in committees on which he doesn’t serve.

For her part, Clinton, who has opposed decriminalizing marijuana in the past, now says she wants to wait to see how legalization plays out in the states that have implemented it before she decides if it’s a good idea. But she has pledged to reschedule marijuana if elected and says she will respect the right of states to implement their own policies without federal interference.

The Republican ticket is much more divided on marijuana. The GOP running mates both personally oppose legalization, but presidential nominee Donald Trump has said he would respect state laws whereas vice-presidential nominee Mike Pence voted six times to continue the federal government’s ability to arrest and prosecute medical cannabis patients who abide by local policies. Trump says he supports medical marijuana “100 percent” and personally knows people who benefit from using it.

To see what else Clinton and Trump have said about cannabis law reform, check out Marijuana.com’s comprehensive guide to the candidates.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

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.)


  1. Mrs, Clinton is a congenital liar.

    Unless she is speaking before Goldman Sachs or the CFR, nothing she says can be accepted as honesty or truth.

    Cannabis re-legalization activists have no good choices this election cycle.

    • Actually I think we can believe her here, as her stated position is just the sort of fence-sitting, finger-in-the-wind, leading from behind that we would expect from her. Your last sentence is certainly true though. Who knows what Trump thinks or would do, but Pence (and Christie) are known quantities who must be defeated.

  2. Hillary is doing her best to loose this election to an idiot. The pick for VP is a good indication of that. She just doesn’t think about the electorate she wants to serve. It will loose her the Bernie people in droves.

    • I agree totally. It says to me that she is so confident of winning that she can start planning her administration, and not really sweating the election. She’s acting like she wants to show she doesn’t have to suck up to Bern’s legions anymore by adding a VP that still thinks people should be imprisoned for smoking pot.
      I think this election is 50/50 right now, and the 2-3% that she just gave away could change the election.

    • She certainly found another Joe Biden for VP. How do these simple minded bumblers rise so high? They could quite well play the Peter Sellers role of Chance in “Being There”.

  3. Pence had me voting for Hillary, until she chose a huge prohibitionist in Kaine. I’m back to trump again. Amazing how we can have two so called progressives that are nothing more than control your life big government statists.

  4. It’s sad that we have to decide between two bad choices for President. That said, I see no reason to think Hillary would actually “leave states alone” or do anything – at all – to further the efforts of legalization of cannabis.

    I have no idea whether Donald would either, but I don’t think anyone should see Hillary as a “pro cannabis” or even “neutral cannabis” candidate.

    Hillary sees herself more as a “queen” than a President – so it’s hard to say what she will do, except rule with an iron fist.

  5. If they want the states to have control over cannabis legalization, they should end federal prohibition and actually ALLOW states to do it.

  6. Vote for Gary Johnson!!!

    Both the Republican and Democratic parties are mostly prohibitionist. Tim Kaine has been awful for the people of Virginia and I will never support him, or Hillary since he is the kind of VP she wants.

    • Why would I want to waste my vote? The man has no chance of wining, and The Donald is looming on the horizon. Hillary is the lesser of two weevils, as they say in Master and Comander of the Farside of the World.

  7. I cant see why any Presidential Nominee with a compassionate heart and common sense could stand for prohibition against Marijuana knowing in fact that it can stop pain and agony of little children suffering from cancer and other medical problems.

  8. They should legalize it and sell Colorado makes billions and so does California stop saying it relates to crime it’s not the chemical, weapons it the human beings people make that mistake

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