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.