Clinton Gave Thumbs Down to Legal Marijuana, Leak Shows | Marijuana

Clinton Gave Thumbs Down to Legal Marijuana, Leak Shows


Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton spoke out against legalizing marijuana in a paid speech, hacked emails from her campaign show.

During an on-stage Q & A session with Xerox’s chairman and CEO in March 2014, Clinton used Wall Street terminology to express her opposition to ending cannabis prohibition “in all senses of the word”:

URSULA BURNS: So long means thumbs up, short means thumbs down; or long means I support, short means I don’t. I’m going to start with — I’m going to give you about ten long-shorts.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Even if you could make money on a short, you can’t answer short.

URSULA BURNS: You can answer short, but you got to be careful about letting anybody else know that. They will bet against you. So legalization of pot?

SECRETARY CLINTON: Short in all senses of the word.

The excerpt comes from an internal Clinton campaign memo highlighting potentially problematic passages from her paid speeches to Goldman Sachs, General Electric, Deutsche Bank and other major corporations.

Other excerpts from the 80-page document, published by Wikileaks after a hack on Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account, show the former U.S. secretary of state admitting she is “far removed” from the struggles of the middle class, arguing that politicians need to have separate positions on issues in public and in private and supporting “open trade and open borders.”

Over the course of the past year, the Clinton campaign forcefully refused calls to release the speech transcripts from her Democratic primary opponent, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who supports legalization and has introduced legislation to end federal marijuana prohibition.

That the campaign flagged the candidate’s opposition to legalization as a potential problem demonstrates a growing understanding by political operatives that marijuana law reform is now a mainstream issue, one which is supported by a majority of Americans and a supermajority of Democratic primary voters.

While Clinton has made no secret in public appearances that she isn’t ready to endorse full legalization, she has usually framed her position as taking a wait-and-see approach, wanting to give laws like those in Colorado and other states a chance to work before she makes up her mind about ending prohibition.

The leaked Xerox excerpt, in contrast, positions her as strongly opposed to legalization.

But the remarks were made two-and-a-half years ago, just two months after legal marijuana sales began in Colorado, so it is possible that Clinton’s personal view of legalization has legitimately softened in the interim.

During the course of her presidential campaign, Clinton has highlighted support for letting states set their own cannabis policies without federal interference and has pledged to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act if elected.

But advocates have pushed the candidate to go even further by offering a personal endorsement for the policy of legalization, arguing that doing so could help Clinton win back support from wayward millennial voters who are supporting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson or Jill Stein of the Green Party, both of whom have made support for ending cannabis prohibition centerpieces of their campaigns.

The newly-leaked documents showing Clinton’s strong opposition to legalization in a private appearance, combined with comments from the candidate’s daughter Chelsea last month implying that marijuana use can lead to death, could present an added sense of urgency for Clinton to evolve on the question of ending prohibition prior to Election Day.

To see what else Hillary Clinton has said about cannabis law reform, check out’s comprehensive guide to the candidates.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for 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. Charles OBannion on

    I dont agree with her, however, your article is non conclusive, lacking any significant details on why. She is entitled to her opinion, whether personal or political. One of the main reasons I support her is the fact that she does not try to trump (pun intended) states rights. She will allow states to do what they want. We, as pro legalization advocates, have to accept the fact that not every POTUS is going to side with our views on legalization for what ever reason. There is still a substantial base of the progressive and Democratic party who do not believe legalization is the correct path. That is fine. The key is the fact that she will not come after any states who decide, especially through voter approval, to legalize. Baby steps. The fight has to be at the state level. This is obvious in the fact that the more states which legalize are being left to their own devices. Once our fight has been shown to be the majority, then the federal politicians will fall into line. Has been, and unfortunately will most likely be for the near term. Politic makes for strange bedfellows….

  2. I don’t believe she will let the states decide. I also do NOT believe that she will even attempt to Reschedule if elected this is just more campaign rhetoric.

    The DEMS have been in office for 8 years and every attempt to legalize at the state level has been met with federal opposition, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, even Alaska, have had problems with the Feds interfering with their new policy’s…Even states trying to Decriminalize or put medical programs in place have been met with opposition at the Federal level… So, Why would that change now ? Bill didn’t inhale, and he didn’t make any attempts to legalize during his time in office, Why would she ?

    She doesn’t give a F@#K about us, any of us, not just the Cannabis community, She doesn’t care about anyone who didn’t donate millions to her campaign… So right now most of you are assuming that I am a Trump fan, Not so much, while I believe that he is the lesser of 2 evils, that alone will not earn him my vote.

    Anyone with Eyes and Ears, who can pay attention for 5 minutes can see that she has no intention of changing anything, especially Cannabis laws ! She is OWNED by the Corporations that sponsor her…
    Time to wake up people, if we want it, we have to do it ourselves, they will not do it for us, no matter what they say during the campaigns…

    Those of us who have been around for a while will remember when we thought as soon as we had 50% of the states on board the Fed would have to change their policy’s, well we now have at least 25 states with medical and or rec on the books and the DEA still refuses to reschedule, what does that tell you ?
    Step by step, inch by inch, just like we have been doing, that is how we will win this war ! battle by battle, state by state, it’s up to us.

    • This is the DEA which is federal bureau but not instructed directly by the executive branch in this case, they are instructed by either the head of the DEA or someone below him to, in a constitutional loophole way, enforce federal prohibition in legal states, because federal law overrides state law. If rescheduled the DEA couldn’t push into legal states, it would allow funding for medical research, and allow despeseries to use federal and nation-wide banks for loans and simple banking services. My point is the federal opposition does not come from the executive branch but from the outdated policy of the DEA and the current status of cannabis as a schedule I drug under the old Controlled Substance Act of 1970. The Obama administration made a lot of progress in allowing states to decide their own cannabis laws. Trump is unpredictable and will probably forget he said anything positive about weed within the first 100 days

      • The DEA is just an agency (one of many) under the Department of Justice, which is headed by the Attorney General, who is a member of the president’s cabinet. So the president is the top boss. If Obama had truly wanted Marijuana re-scheduled he had the authority under the CSA to make it happen. For political hot potato reasons he said it was up to Congress, which is only half true—either can re-schedule a substance. He knew the Republican majority Congress would never re-schedule.

      • If you’re an entity that has an agenda involving a product/concept that you oppose, of course your PAID spokesperson will take your side of it.

        BTW -Thanks Doc for the insight (Election Day not withstanding).

      • The Obama administration didn’t do shit to change any scheduling,you couldn’t name one piece.because he hasn’t signed any.
        Who would profit from legal weed. Shirley not the policeman’s union or the prison guards union or any of the companies that sell goods and services to the prison system

    • Trump will likely cave, albeit for different reasons then her, to the far right on this issue. The death of his big brother has made him an absolute teetotaler on all things. It isn’t fair, Fred the 3rd was obviously suicidal from the pressure of living up to the Entrepreneurial legacy of Fredrick Trump. I think he was an average joe at heart, and wanted none of it, but could only get away by going to wild parties, Boogie Nights style, where he finally OD’d. If that hadn’t been available to him, he probably would have simply jumped of the Trump tower years earlier.
      Anyway, Johnson is the best candidate, not only for common sense legalization, but for Madrid other sane reasons, and by creatively Breaking Duvrage’s Law, he can make a real dent without spoiling a damn thing.

  3. Hillary has been bought-and-paid-for by various and assorted PACs for many years … those PACs include the tobacco industry and the alcohol industry BOTH OF WHICH are HUGE donors to stop all efforts at legalizing marijuana because it will seriously depress the popularity of and use of their own addictive and destructive substances …

    • The tobacco companies would welcome marijuana legalization. First, pot doesn’t really compete with tobacco, but there are synergies between them in terms of production, marketing, and distribution. Tobacco is a slow-growth industry and pot would represent a whole new market for them to sell into. On conference calls, tobacco industry analysts have asked these companies about their post-legalization plans. In addition, if pot were legal, the tobacco companies could cut their tobacco cigarettes with marijuana. I can see it now: Marlboro Gold. I might even try it. So they would welcome legal pot. Beer companies, on the other hand, are opposed, and Anheuser-Busch has funded anti-legalization campaigns. No synergies and more direct competition.

      • Half of what makes mainstream tobacco toxic are their spendthrift farming methods. I wouldn’t feed a tomato grown under those conditions to a child rapist. Do you think marijuana grown that way would be any better?!

    • I agree. However, Big Pharma WILL get behind marijuana being legal, but only after they have figured out the chemical formula. Then, here come the patents, folks, for the chemical. And then the plants will be outlawed… we go again; we are no longer utilizing a green plant.
      Look at aspirin. Used to be white willow bark, until they found the chemical formula ($$$).
      Ditto Valium (diazepam). The active compounds are chemically the same as the plant Valerian ($$$), which is called nature’s valium.

      • Hit the nail on the head; The root focus in all this MUST be radical patent law reform, which may require an amendment, or even a constitutional convention of the states to rectify. The patent laws MUST be fixed to stop these biotech abuses.

  4. The first link in this article reads as if it is to the wikileak document that contains Hillary’s statement to Xerox. But when I follow it, that page does not contain the quote. I searched the wikileaks site, but found nothing resembling what she allegedly said.

    Can you provide a working link?

    • I thought the same thing and everywhere was linking to the same place. I finally found it though. It’s actually not in the original email which is why it’s not in the transcript. It’s in the attachment to the email which is a much more extensive list of flags in a .docx document. If you click on the ‘view source’ tab, you can download the raw email from there and the attachment will be included.

  5. Unfortunately, I do not foresee cannabis being unscheduled or even rescheduled before 2020 , I think it will happen on the state level at an extremely glacial pace until we vote these old parts ( who have been in congress for the last 150 years) , I could be totally wrong, but current congress, and these clowns we have for presidential candidates certainly will not be the ones to legalize Cannabis… We need new parties to choose from, because I think republicans and democrats are in bed with one another, and basically become one big party of NO, so I do not believe it can or will happen with the status quo….

  6. It’s all about money, the Clinton’s want it, and Big Pharma has it. Lots of it! It has been clearly documented that people in states with legalized medical/recreational laws are using far less opiates. That’s a good thing! Big Pharma disagrees. They make big bucks on all the people addicted to opiates, and they don’t give a shirt about the harmful effects (not as long as they get rich selling them). One thing’s certain, if money is on the table Hillary gets very comfortable in whomever back pocket supplied it. Trust me, Big Pharmaceutical counting on Hillary to provide a quick return on their “investment”. If you think she cares more about you then Big Pharma, think again.

  7. Besides the fact that they are in bed with big Pharma, there’s another reason banksters hate legal pot. When they need liquidity, like billions in cash fast, they launder the cash that drug cartels always have available. HSBC was convicted of laundering billions. Legal pot shrinks cartels and their bags of cash.

      • You should update your article and mention where exactly it is because I too was looking for the quotes and I didn’t thought about the attachments.

    • The specific lobby financing anti-legalization with money on the table to persuade Clinton to remain sour toward herbs today(October 2016) is the prison foodies. 80,000 less prisoners in USA per year means a lot less jobs and down the laundry chute with prison foodie stocks.

  8. How on earth are we expected to believe that the 80 page document was linked to an e-mail that was directly associated with Hillary? Here is what i would like to know:

    1) What ties the attachment to Clinton?
    2) How can we verify the content in the document?
    3) Why is content like this reported on without those verification in place?

    Answer those and I will take you seriously. Even though it’s no secret that she is against pot, I cant take this as evidence…

  9. These documents come from anonymous sources that are stolen by people trying to do harm to our country!! Why would you find any of this credible?!? All of these documents could have been forged and manipulated to say anything!

    NOT CREDIBLE!!! Please do not be duped people!!! This article feeds into a greater distrust with all media and agendas trying to harm our country!!!!

  10. This article is complete trash.

    Are the owner of Weed Maps Trump Supporters? I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

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