As the 2016 election draws near, the cannabis industry and community is waiting anxiously to see what a new administration will mean for legal marijuana. Will the many marijuana dispensaries be allowed to remain open under a new administration? Will marijuana become legal across the country, or will legal weed be completely shut down? Which candidate is likely to win, and where do the top candidates and political parties stand on the issue of legal cannabis? With billions of dollars at stake and access to medication on the line, the future of cannabis effects millions of Americans. Here is a breakdown of how cannabis legalization might be handled under a Clinton, Trump, or Stein administration.
In 2007, Hillary Clinton summarized her feelings on marijuana legalization by saying “I don't think we should decriminalize it,” and in 2016, her official stance is that she does support moving marijuana from the Schedule 1 list of controlled substances, which are considered the most dangerous, to the Schedule 2 class of drugs where it would reside along other prescription medications such as opium and codeine. If marijuana does end up reclassified to Schedule 2, it could possibly lead to further prohibitions on the sale of cannabis as marijuana could potentially become subject to the same rules and FDA regulations as other prescription drugs.
The Democratic party as a whole seems to be taking the smallest of steps beyond Clinton's stance, deciding at the Democratic National Committee's 2016 National Platform meeting to endorse an amendment that would recommend legalizing marijuana federally and offer legal marijuana businesses protection from federal interference. The amendment would stop short of truly decriminalizing marijuana nationwide, however. Marijuana would be legal at a federal level, but it would be up to states to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to keep marijuana illegal or legal within their own state borders. The vote in support of endorsing the marijuana amendment passed with only a one vote margin, with a sharp division between Bernie Sanders supporters in favor and Hillary Clinton supporters opposed.
Meanwhile, cannabis legalization in any form doesn't seem to be anywhere on the Republican radar, despite the number of Veterans and others who depend on marijuana for medical reasons. Neither medical marijuana nor marijuana decriminalization or even reclassification will be a part of the 2016 Republican platform. Donald Trump, meanwhile, sounds a whole lot like Clinton. He seems to favor medical marijuana and says that states should decide their own marijuana laws without federal interference. Without the backing of his party on these endeavors, however, many are skeptical about his ability to actually carry any of that out.
Jill Stein and the Green Party as a whole are in full support of marijuana legalization, for both medical as well as recreational marijuana. Stein believes that “Marijuana is a drug that is dangerous because it's illegal. It isn't illegal because it's dangerous.” The official platform of the Green Party states that “Cannabis/Hemp is to be legalized, regulated and controlled like cigarettes and alcohol. Until this happens we advocate that medical marijuana be made a prescription drug that doctors may prescribe to their patients.” If Stein were to win the presidency, efforts to truly legalize marijuana across our country at both the national and state levels could be expected and the marijuana industry could breathe a sigh of relief.
In a poll last week following the Republican National Convention, Trump and Clinton appeared to be very close in popularity, with Clinton scoring 41% of supporters to Trump's 38%. The poll, conducted by Reuters/Ipsos, surveyed 1036 English-speaking voters in 50 states. However, polling numbers are traditionally less accurate during this time period, with candidates often getting a short-lived boost following official nomination at the Party conventions. The New York Times presidential forecast gives Hillary Clinton a 74% chance to win. Does Jill Stein have a chance? If the thousands of marijuana business owners and millions of marijuana users decide to put protecting and expanding legal cannabis above other political concerns, Stein could very well become our country's next president. Only time will tell, so for now, smoke it if you've got it!