With an ever-expanding body of research that confirms the vast benefits of marijuana use, it’s no wonder why support for the legalization of weed among the general populous is has grown exponentially.
Despite the fact that some states of heard the calls of their constituents and legalized pot use medicinally, recreationally, or both, the plant still continues to be classified as a Schedule I drug by the United States federal government, the highest classification.
That’s right; according to the US government, a natural plant that has been used and known to offer profound benefits for thousands of years is as high-risk and dangerous as the likes of MDMA (ecstasy), heroin, GHB, LSD, and Quaaludes.
Under federal law, a prosecution of marijuana possession can start as a misdemeanor, but can quickly be deemed a felony offense, and can result in exorbitant fines, civil penalties, incarceration, and/or the denial of federal benefits.
Why is it that despite the proven and undeniable benefits, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government? Like so many issues that pertain to medicine and health care, Big Pharma lobbying is largely to blame, as do the politicians that they pay off to keep in their pockets.
Sadly, there are many pharma-funded anti-weed politicians and fight legalization of marijuana; however, not all of them are. Fortunately, some politicians are honest (at least to some degree) and are advocates for legalizing weed.
If you toke marijuana for medicinal purposes, you enjoy kicking back and relaxing after a long day at work with a joint instead of a beer, or if you simply want to support the people’s right to have access to inexpensive, natural, safe, and effective options, you may be wondering which politicians you should put your support behind.
We’ve compiled a list of some of pro- and anti-weed legalization politicians, which you may find quite surprising. We’ve scoured the internet and collected our insights from news stories, press releases, politician campaign websites, and pro-legalization watchdog groups like NORML and GraniteStaters.
To find out where some of the most famous political personalities stand on the legalizations of marijuana, keep on reading.
Marijuana and the US Federal Government
Before you read through our list of politicians who are in support of legalizing cannabis and who constantly put up roadblocks, you may be wondering why something that has been proven to provide a wealth of benefits is considered as dangerous as drugs like acid and meth, which are undeniably harmful and have caused serious health risks and deaths.
The criminalization of marijuana started way back in the early 1910s. It was then that individual states began passing laws that banned its use, as it was swept into initiatives that aimed to prohibit alcohol use.
Add to that the fact that states were concerned about their lack of the control and regulation on medicinal remedies that contained cannabis. Back then, marijuana was used to treat a variety of ailments, such as pain, migraines, insomnia, and depression.
By the year 1936, marijuana use regulations had been passed by 48 states. In 1937, the passage of the Marijuana Stamp Act, which made it virtually impossible to possess or sell cannabis legally, criminalized weed on a federal level.
Fast forward to the 1970s, President Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) into law in order to classify a drug’s potential risk for abuse and addiction, and established the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to combat drug use and possession throughout the United States.
In the latter part of the 20th century, states started to take note of the benefits of marijuana use, and many began to decriminalize use of the plant. California led the charge with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which permitted the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes for certain aliment; cancer, for example.
Many other states have followed suite and have legalized marijuana use, both medicinally and recreationally. By the end of 2018, a total of 33 states, as well as the District of Columbia, had legalized some form of weed use, which of course, put the states and DC at odds with federal laws, which to this day (at the time of writing), still criminalizes the use and possession of marijuana in all forms
Why is Cannabis Still Criminalized by the Federal Government?
While there are a lot of theories, one of the most widely known reasons why cannabis use is still considered a Schedule I drug by the US federal government has to do with Big Pharma. Put simply, pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars on the synthetic concoctions (many of which are highly addictive, pose serious adverse health risks, and don’t cure diseases, but rather mask the symptoms, making customers for life).
If marijuana, something that comes from nature (and thus, can’t be patented) that can not only ease symptoms but can actually eradicate numerous ailments, were to be offered to the public at large, than pharmaceutical companies would lose their largest customer base (thus US consumes the largest percentage of pharma products in the world), would suffer major financial losses.
If you’ve even done a little bit of digging into the history of Big Pharma and have seen their track record (Pfizer paid out the largest criminal fines in US history, making them one of the biggest criminal organizations in the world), you know that profits – not people – are their top-priority. As such, these companies lobby the government to halt the legalization of marijuana on a federal level, as do the politicians that they give huge paydays to in order to keep in their pockets.
Now, that’s not to say that all politicians are against the legalization of marijuana. There are several popular politicians who are in support of decriminalizing cannabis use for medicinal purposes, recreational purposes, or both, and that list does seem to be growing. Many have proposed legislation to decriminalize its use, at the state and/or federal level.
Which politicians are anti-cannabis? Which ones are pro-weed? Let’s dive in and take a look at where some widely popular legislators stand on the issue of marijuana use.
List of Biggest Anti-Weed Politicians:
Let’s start off with a list of politicians who are against the use of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, and at the state and/or federal level.
Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican from Kansas, is a major advocate for continuing the legalization of cannabis. He was a strong advocate for raiding and arresting patients (seriously ill patients, at that) who were using medicinal marijuana, with the guidance and approval of their health care professionals, and in compliance with state law.
On October 19, 2007, he withdrew from the primary, and prior to doing so, he publicly state that he would continue to criminalize the use of medicinal marijuana by seriously ill individuals.
While Brownback has not voted on any legislation that specifically pertained to medical cannabis, he has certainly made his stance clear. In 2007, Don Murphy, a former Maryland statehouse delegate, asked Senator Brownback whether or not he would put an end to raids that the US federal government was conducting on cancer patients who were using medicinal marijuana. To this inquiry, Brownback replied, “I haven’t supported the legalization of marijuana to be used.”
President George W. Bush
In short: Asked about medical marijuana as he campaigned for president in 1999, George W. Bush said he believes “each state can choose that decision as they so choose” (sic). Yet the Bush administration has arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned medical marijuana patients and providers at an alarming rate. Administration officials have aggressively campaigned against local and state proposals to protect medical marijuana patients.
What Bush has done: The Bush administration has conducted an unrelenting assault on medical marijuana dispensaries in California and attempted to undercut Proposition 215, the ballot initiative approved by Californians in 1996 that allows legal access to medical marijuana. Dozens of patients and providers have been arrested or seen their homes raided, and other medical marijuana distributors have shut down out of fear of federal attacks. In October 2002, Bryan Epis became the first person convicted of federal marijuana charges stemming from his work as a medical marijuana patient and provider, and he is now serving a 10-year mandatory minimum sentence. Other Bush administration actions include the September 2002 raid on the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana — during which a disabled woman was held at gunpoint and handcuffed to a bed — and the January 2003 conviction of Ed Rosenthal, who grew medical marijuana at the request of the city of Oakland, but who was not allowed to discuss the medical aspects of his case in court.
Bush’s drug czar, John Walters, is an anti-marijuana zealot who has compared medical marijuana to “medicinal crack.”
What Bush has said: October 16, 1999: While campaigning in Seattle, Bush was asked by a reporter if he supported a state’s right to allow legal access to medical marijuana. Bush’s response surprised many: “I believe each state can choose that decision as they so choose” (sic). Bush aides later clarified that he does not support legalizing medical marijuana. Bush also told reporters that a law protecting medical marijuana patients was “not going to happen in Texas.”
Governor Jim Gilmore (R-VA)
Jim Gilmore, the former Republican governor of Virginia, and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has said that he supports states’ rights; however, he has not publicly stated whether or not he would put an end to federal raids on the ill and their caregivers. To date, he has not co-sponsored or voted in support of any legislation that addressed medical marijuana legalization.
In 2007, Governor Gilmore was asked whether or not he would put an end to raids that are conducted by the federal government on patients who are using cannabis for medicinal purposes. His response to that question was as follows, “I think that kind of approach has to be done under the law of the various states.
If you have states that permit it, I would not expect to see a raid by anybody, but I don’t support it or approve it.” He was then asked if he supported the protection of states’ rights to end the federal raids that were conducted on state medicinal marijuana programs, to which he replied, “I believe that the federal law enforcement authority should support and enforce the federal law. To the extent that they are needed to work with state officials, then they should do that, once again, under the state law, and they should not go beyond that and I’m not aware they are.”
Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Rep. Hunter, a Republican from California, has publicly stated that if he were elected, he would support the DEA raiding and arresting patients who were legally using medicinal marijuana under California state law. He has also voted consistently to oppose legislation that would protect patients who use cannabis medicinally and their caregivers.
In 2007, Rep. Hunter voted against the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. This amendment would have put an end to the DEA raiding patients and their caregivers who were taking part in California-approved medicinal marijuana programs. In the 5 years it had been voted on, Rep. Hunter did not support this legislation.
Also in 2007, he was asked if he would put an end to federal raids on the constituents who he represents. His response was, “I remember when I was on the select committee on narcotics, everybody who was a heroin addict had first been a marijuana addict, and I would be very careful about pulling back from the outlawing of marijuana. I know it’s been advocated by many, and I’ve seen the people who weigh 65 pounds. So my answer is, I would not legalize marijuana.”
Rep. Hunter was also asked whether or not he would put an end to the raids on his own constituents, to which he said, “If you have a federal law, you have to enforce the law. And that’s my answer.”
Representative Tom Price (R-GA)
When Representative Tom Price, a Republican from Georgia, was selected to serve as the secretary of Health and Human Services by Trump, he made his anti-cannabis stance known. He voted against numerous proposals that were recently put forth to end the legalization, and he has a long record of opposing policy reforms.
Since he was a member of Trump’s cabinet, Rep. Price had a lot of power over medicinal access to marijuana, so his anti-legalization stance was definitely not a good thing for those who support the use of the natural medicine.
Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA)
The former governor of Massachusetts has stated publicly that he does not support ending the federal raids on state medical marijuana patients and caregivers.
What Former Gov. Romney Has Done:
Gov. Romney has neither cosponsored nor voted on any legislation specifically addressing medical marijuana.
What Former Gov. Romney Has Said:
During a town meeting in Laconia, New Hampshire, on May 29, 2007, GSMM staff asked the former governor if he would respect the will of voters and legislators in the 12 medical marijuana states and end the federal raids on patients and caregivers. He responded, “I don’t want marijuana to be used in our country. I’m not going to legalize marijuana.”
The questioner then clarified that he was asking about medical marijuana, not marijuana legalization, asking, “Can you articulate a benefit to arresting sick and dying people who use effective medicine?” Gov. Romney responded, “I’m not talking about arresting sick and dying people, but I am talking about keeping marijuana from being a product on the street and being misused. The drug czar of our nation says it is the gateway drug for people becoming involved with drugs and drugs are a scourge of this country. I’d like to develop a drug policy that is more effective than the one we have. I know a lot of people who work very hard to find a drug policy that will work for our nation. You know we are out in places like Colombia, we spend about $650 million of our money to help people in Colombia try to hold down the production of drug products for our nation and for other nations around the world. Somehow we got to convince the American people, young people in particular, to stay away from drugs, to help them understand the extraordinary scourge that drugs are. It is ruining lives. Drugs are ruining lives of our kids. And I don’t want to do anything that would encourage in any way, some people to get involved in illegal drugs. So, I recognize your concern, I share the concern, I want people to have comfort as they are ill, but I don’t want to do something that leads to anymore people becoming involved in drugs and having their lives ruined in that way. So, I’m open to looking for how we can do that better. I spoke with a great former secretary of state of our nation not long ago and he said, ‘you know, maybe we could do a better job marketing to our own people. We’re really good at selling Pepsi Cola and Coca Cola, and a lot of products in our country, maybe we can do a better job marketing to our own population about how they need to stay away from drugs, and then we can have further conversation about that topic.’ Thank you.”
A week later, at a town hall meeting in Manchester on June 6, 2007, Gov. Romney said, “You know, I haven’t looked at the experiences in those 12 states, and I don’t know what options there are for pain relief from medicinally supplied marijuana, meaning through chemical means, pills, or something of that nature. The concern, of course, is that marijuana has become the entry drug of choice and contributing a lot to the drug culture. That’s the concern. And that’s why, as the federal government, and I as a candidate, support keeping marijuana illegal, because I don’t want to encourage more involvement in or allow more people to get involved in the marijuana and the drug culture. But the needs of those with chronic pain, and determining ways to treat that pain through medicinal or chemical type of sources, which is something I have studied before. But I don’t anticipate that I’m going to be running on the platform of making marijuana legal or making medical marijuana legal. I will look at the issue, I haven’t got in place something on that point. I will inform myself on it, but I’m not going to promise you here that I’m going to change the federal law with regards to clamping down on the use of marijuana in our society for medical purposes. Sorry, I wish I had a better answer for you, but that’s where I am at this stage.”
During a July 25 town hall meeting in Bedford, he touched briefly on medical marijuana, saying, “People talk about medicinal marijuana. And you know, you hear that story that people who are sick need medicinal marijuana. But marijuana is the entry drug for people trying to get kids hooked on drugs. I don’t want medicinal marijuana; there are synthetic forms of marijuana that are available for people who need it for prescription. Don’t open the doorway to medicinal marijuana.”
After the July 25 event, GSMM volunteers, including a seriously ill patient in a wheelchair and a medical professional, approached Gov. Romney to ask a follow-up question. After Gov. Romney ignored the ill patient’s repeated attempts to ask him a question, a GSMM staffer asked him, “I was wondering why you don’t respect states’ rights when it concerns seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana in the 12 states that have approved its use. Why don’t you respect states’ rights in that situation, a life and death situation?” Gov. Romney responded, “Because synthetic marijuana is available by prescription. It’s very simple, very simple, very simple.”
When the medical professional introduced herself and explained that synthetic forms of marijuana are not effective for many patients, Gov. Romney disagreed, saying, “I have spoken with doctors and researchers, and the medical marijuana effort is an effort to try and legalize marijuana in this country, and it’s a mistake in my opinion to go in the direction of opening up the nation to medical marijuana. The scourge of drugs has a huge cost on our society and our children. I am not in favor of medical marijuana. Other pain relievers are available in this country and I support the use of those other pain relievers. And synthetic marijuana, with the elements that are essential, is available.”
During a town hall event in Manchester on October 4, an audience member asked Gov. Romney, “If you become president and a state chooses to end marijuana prohibition during your term, how will you respond?” Gov. Romney answered, “I believe marijuana should be illegal in our country. It is the pathway to drug usage by our society, which is a great scourge — which is one of the great causes of crime in our cities. And I believe that we are at a state where, of course, we are very concerned about people who are suffering pain, and there are various means of providing pain management. And those that have had loved ones that have gone through an end of life with cancer know the nature of real pain. I watched my wife’s mom and dad, both in our home, both going through cancer treatment, suffering a great deal of pain. But they didn’t have marijuana, and they didn’t need marijuana because there were other sources of pain management that worked entirely effectively. I’m told there is even a synthetic marijuana as well that is available. But having legalized marijuana, in my view, is an effort by a very committed few to try and get marijuana out into the public and ultimately legalize marijuana. It’s a long way to go. We need less drugs in this society, not more drugs, and I would oppose the legalization of marijuana in the country or legalization of marijuana for medicinal purposes because pain management is available from other sources.”
Two days later, at an October 6 campaign event in Dover, New Hampshire, GSMM volunteer and seriously ill resident Clayton Holton asked Gov. Romney: “I suffer from an extremely rare type of muscular dystrophy and I have to take medication or I’ll die. Now I weigh less then 80 pounds, I have all my life. I have the support of five of my doctors who say I am living proof that medical marijuana works. I am completely against legalizing if for everyone, but there is medical purposes for it.” Gov. Romney interrupted, “And you have synthetic marijuana that’s available and other pain medications.” Holton responded, “It makes me sick. I have tried it, and it makes me throw up. I have tried all of the medications there are and all of the forms that come in appetite stimulators or steroids. I have muscular dystrophy, that’s completely against my DNA. My question for you is, will you arrest me and my doctors if I get medical marijuana prescribed to me?” Gov. Romney then answered, “I’m not in favor of medical marijuana being legal in the country,” before turning his back to Clayton and walking away.
On October 25, during a campaign event at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, GSMM staff asked Gov. Romney: “I’m glad you said you like states being the laboratories of democracy. Voters and legislators in 12 states have passed laws protecting the seriously ill who use medical marijuana with their doctors’ approval and supervision. This has the support of 80% of the public, 74% of doctors, the American Nurses Association, the Institute of Medicine, the New England Journal of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the list goes on, sir, with medical support. In Nevada, you said that you would have these patients raided and arrested for using and prescribing this under these state laws.”
Gov. Romney interrupted, “No, I didn’t. It’s a good question, but you don’t need to misstate what I said.” Our staffer continued, “You were asked if you would continue or end the federal raids. You said that you would continue the raids on patients. That was in Nevada at the Conservative Forum.”
Gov. Romney interrupted again, saying: “Nope, you know what I said was I’d continue to enforce the law as it is, and in my view the law ought to be that medical marijuana is illegal. Marijuana is the gateway to illegal drug use in this country. Drug use is a plague on American society; I want to eliminate it, I do not want to expand it … The health care professionals in this room will tell you that there are synthetic ways of providing the pain relief associated with marijuana and we do not have to have marijuana being prescribed and we all know how that can be abused … As a result, I’m not in favor of medical marijuana being prescribed, I think that’s the wrong course. I want to fight every way I can against illegal drug use in this country, and in my view expanding marijuana is not the right way to go for America.”
The GSMM staffer followed up, “May I politely ask you then, sir, will you continue the federal raids on medical marijuana patients?”
Gov. Romney responded: “I don’t do any particular raids, but we’ll follow the law. And I, I’m not familiar with what they’re doing in Nevada, personally, I’m in Massachusetts, all right, that was where I was governor and I believe in following the law and I also believe that medical marijuana is, if you will, a Trojan Horse for bringing marijuana into our society and I think that’s the wrong way to go. I think the far better way to go is to treat people with other medications that are available, and synthetic marijuana that provides the same pain relief that can be received by, uh, by marijuana.”
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, has been a consistent anti-weed politician. Despite some wavering and prevarication, Rubio has stood strong against the legalization of marijuana.
According to the Florida senator, he does not think that legalizing cannabis – or that even decriminalizing it – would be the right decision for the United States; in fact, he has said this on several occasions. With that said, it doesn’t seem as if Rubio has the facts about marijuana safety, as he has consistently conflated the dangers of its use with the dangers of alcohol use.
Governor Mike Huckabee (Arkansas)
The former governor of Arkansas has stated publicly that he does not support ending the federal raids on state medical marijuana patients.
What Former Gov. Huckabee Has Done:
Gov. Huckabee has neither cosponsored nor voted on any legislation specifically addressing medical marijuana.
What Former Gov. Huckabee Has Said:
At a private house party in Francestown, New Hampshire, on June 4, 2007, Huckabee was asked if he would end the federal raids on medical marijuana patients. He responded, “Well, you know, I think I’d leave that to the DEA. Let me just be very blunt. I don’t support the idea. I think there are better ways to treat medical illnesses than the use of a drug that has really caused so many more people to have their lives injured than it has to necessarily have their lives helped. There are so many different ways in which, whether it’s pain or other ways, I think we can deal with medical issues. I’m just not convinced that smoking marijuana is a great idea right now, given the culture of drugs in this country and how many lives it’s destroyed. Even if a person says, ‘but this is going to be a legitimate use,’ for every legitimate use, there are many others. So, I’m probably not one who that’s going to be real sympathetic toward relaxing drug laws, having seen what it’s done in families and seen what it’s done in our economy. I would just like to think that we could find better solutions to alleviating pain and suffering.”
He was then asked by GSMM staff: “Until we do, what is the benefit to arresting people with cancer and AIDS and multiple sclerosis for using something that their doctors approve of?” Huckabee responded, “Well, you know I’m going to leave it up to the DEA whether they feel like there is a person who is being arrested because they are suffering from AIDS or because they really are doing something
Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois)
NORML, a cannabis advocacy policy group, has given Senator Kirk a grade of “F” for his position on the legalization of marijuana. The Illinois senator has voted against every single marijuana-related law that has come his way in the past few years.
What’s worse, it appears that all of the false stereotypes that circulate about cannabis and those who use it, Kirk agrees with. He cite the sensationalist concerns regarding “Kish super-marijuana” that had taken hold of the suburbs of Chicago. Furthermore, the senator stated that he would support a dramatic increase in prison sentences for those who are charged with the possession of marijuana in the state of Illinois.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
As the Senate Majority Leader, McConnell has a big platform on which he can share his views about marijuana use; particularly, his anti-marijuana views. Like so many other politicians who do not support the legalization of cannabis, McConnell is all about standing against it for all reasons.
McConnell is strongly against it, and he believes that the entire movement to decriminalize weed use, both medicinally and recreationally, is a major mistake. Furthermore, McConnell voted against each and every cannabis policy reform bill that came his way in the Senate.
Governor Howard Dean (Vermont)
In short: Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean is the only candidate who has actually killed a medical marijuana bill. Because of Dean’s actions, Vermonters with AIDS, cancer, and other terrible illnesses still face arrest and jail under state law for using medical marijuana. In recent statements he has attempted to sound reasonable, but his actions have shown that medical marijuana patients can never trust him. The only reason we give Dean an F+ and not a straight F is because the latter grade should be reserved for Bush, who is as cruel and heartless as anyone could possibly be on the medical marijuana issue.
What Dean has done: During 2002, Vermont’s legislature considered H. 645, which would have protected seriously ill Vermonters from arrest and jail for using medical marijuana with their doctors’ recommendations. Dean was, as the Rutland Herald reported, “a staunch opponent.”
H. 645 passed the Republican-controlled Vermont House by 82-59, and there were sufficient votes in the Democratic-controlled Senate to pass it there. But Dean used his influence with Senate leaders — who acknowledged that they didn’t want to pass a bill that Dean would veto — to make sure it never received a floor vote. The legislature did eventually pass, and Dean signed, a bill creating a task force to study the issue. The task force reported in early 2003 that medical marijuana patients deserve legal protection, but Dean’s actions guaranteed that medical marijuana patients would continue to face arrest, leaving it to a future governor to fix this injustice.
What Dean has said: From The Nation, March 31, 2003:
“[Dean] cannot stand state initiatives that seek to legalize medical marijuana. ‘I hate the idea of legislators and politicians practicing medicine,’ he says. Should the feds be busting medical marijuana clubs? ‘Depends on the circumstances,’ he says. ‘In general, no.’ If he were president, Dean adds, he would force the Food and Drug Administration to evaluate medical marijuana, and he would be prepared to accept its findings.”
What Dean’s statements mean: Dean has consistently confused the issue by passing the buck to the FDA, which does not have the authority to conduct its own clinical trials for the purpose of approving marijuana as a prescription medicine. Under the best possible circumstances, FDA drug approval takes years. As governor, Dean had the chance to protect seriously ill Vermonters, and instead he acted to ensure that they still face arrest and jail under state law for the simple act of taking their medicine.
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE)
Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, is a big anti-weed politician. He stands strong against the legalization of its use, both for medicinal and recreational purposes. He has made several public statements against the legalization of weed, and he has voted against several bills that have come his way.
With that said, however, he may be shifting his stance on medicinal marijuana, as the state of Delaware is set to get its very first medical cannabis dispensary.
Senator Bob Graham (D-FL)
In short: Graham opposed federal legislation legalizing medical marijuana and would not have stopped the current administration’s policy of arresting and jailing seriously ill patients and their caregivers.
What Graham has done: Graham has not taken any action to protect medical marijuana patients. He has neither cosponsored nor voted on any legislation specifically addressing medical marijuana.*
What Graham has said: On Monday, October 6, Graham withdrew his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, saying on CNN’s Larry King Live, “I have made the judgment that I cannot be elected president of the United States.”
Questioned on New Hampshire Public Radio on August 18, 2003 by GSMM, Graham said, “There are several things I intend to do shortly after I take the oath of office … give me a few more hours before I get around to that specific DEA issue.” Responding to a follow up question, Graham continued “I don’t think the scientific evidence is there today to justify it [medical uses of marijuana], plus the fact I think it would be very difficult to enforce your drug laws if you had such a big exception to them.”
Responding to a question from Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana at a July 3, 2003 campaign stop, Graham said, “If a state, like Oregon, has said that this, their judgment, is appropriate…although I would disagree with it, I would defer to the state judgment.” When Graham announced his presidential candidacy in February 2003, ABCNews.com reported, “Graham does not support legalizing marijuana. His spokeswoman said…Graham ‘generally disfavors’ federal pre-emption of state law.”
In a lengthy letter to a constituent in January 1999, Graham wrote, “We must continue to evaluate all possible effects” of “legalization of marijuana for medicinal use.” Graham went on to cite many of the standard arguments used by opponents, stating, for example, “The use of marijuana for medicinal purposes runs the risk of creating an environment where our children believe that marijuana use is a legitimate, and even healthy, recreational activity.” Nevertheless, he did not come out against medical marijuana laws or in favor of federal efforts to undercut state laws.
What Graham’s statements mean: In his August 18 New Hampshire Public Radio appearance, Graham retreated from his previous statement supporting the states’ rights to decide, saying he would not immediately end the Bush administration’s policy of arresting medical marijuana patients in states that have legalized the medical use of marijuana.
*All current members of the House and Senate running for president have voted for District of Columbia appropriations bills that included anti-medical marijuana provisions, but there was never a separate vote on any such amendment.
Representative Richard Gephardt (D-MO)
In short: Gephardt voted for a 1998 U.S. Senate resolution condemning state efforts to legalize medical use of marijuana. Gephardt gets an “F” grade for refusing to pledge an end to the Bush administration’s cruel and heartless raids on medical marijuana patients.
What Gephardt has done: In 1998, Gephardt voted for H.J.Res. 117, a resolution opposing efforts to legalize marijuana or other Schedule I drugs for medical use. The resolution condemned “efforts to circumvent” the Food and Drug Administration’s drug-approval process via state medical marijuana laws, and it contained language suggesting that medical marijuana laws add to “ambiguous cultural messages about marijuana use [that] are contributing to a growing acceptance of marijuana use among children and teenagers.” The resolution passed by a vote of 310-93. He has neither voted on nor cosponsored other measures specifically addressing medical marijuana.*
What Gephardt has said: At a town hall meeting in Manchester on December 20, broadcast live on C-SPAN, Gephardt was asked if, as president, he would end the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) raids on medical marijuana patients who are acting in compliance with state law. Gephardt responded, “What I’m for is states’ rights to do what they think is right and we should conform federal activity to what states do.” Gephardt was asked, “Does that mean you’ll stop the raids, Congressman?” Gephardt replied, “I gave you the answer.”
At a house party in Manchester on September 1 that was broadcast live on C-SPAN, Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM) member Leonard Epstein asked Gephardt if, as president, he would stop Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on medical marijuana patients in states that allow it for seriously ill people. Gephardt responded by saying “It should be a state issue.” When Epstein persisted, asking, “So, would you stop the raids, then?” Gephardt responded, “That’s what I just said. It should be a state issue, states should determine the policy.”
When GSMM’s Linda Macia told Gephardt at a campaign stop on July 20, “I’m a patient and a medical marijuana advocate. I’m really ill, and I can’t use drugs at all. I’m allergic to narcotics, I need your help. States’ rights for sick people to–,” Gephardt immediately said, “That’s what I’m for…states’ rights.” When asked if he would sign federal legislation to allow seriously ill people to use medical marijuana with their doctors’ approval, he responded, “Sure.”
What Gephardt’s statements mean: Despite the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling that the DEA raids are likely unconstitutional, Gephardt has still refused to pledge an end to the raids. Gephardt’s campaign earlier reneged on a commitment to provide a letter clarifying his position on medical marijuana — one in a series of twists and turns that has concerned seriously ill medical marijuana patients.
*All current members of the House and Senate running for president have voted for District of Columbia appropriations bills that included anti-medical marijuana provisions, but there was never a separate vote on any such amendment.
Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT)
In short: Lieberman cosponsored a 1998 U.S. Senate resolution condemning state efforts to legalize medical use of marijuana. Lieberman gets an “F” grade for refusing to pledge an end to the Bush administration’s cruel and heartless raids on medical marijuana patients.
What Lieberman has done: In 1998, Lieberman cosponsored S.J.Res. 56, opposing efforts to legalize marijuana or other Schedule I drugs for medical use. The resolution condemned “efforts to circumvent” the Food and Drug Administration’s drug-approval process via state medical marijuana laws, and it contained language suggesting that medical marijuana laws add to “ambiguous cultural messages about marijuana use [that] are contributing to a growing acceptance of marijuana use among children and teenagers.” Lieberman is the only senator now running for president who cosponsored this resolution, which never received a floor vote. He has not voted on other legislation specifically addressing medical marijuana.*
What Lieberman has said: At a campaign stop in Manchester on December 28, GSMM’s Linda Macia and Len Epstein asked Lieberman if, as president, he would stop the DEA’s raids on medical marijuana patients who are acting in compliance with state law. Lieberman responded, “From a federal point of view … it’s the wrong allocation of our resources.”
Encountering a question from GSMM’s Linda Macia during a filming session for his campaign’s infomercial on December 11, Lieberman said, “You know what? I’m glad you’re here ’cause you’ve asked me that three or four times and I told you I was going to look at the evidence and give you an answer. I didn’t know you were going to be here today, but I want to give you the answer — the conclusion I’ve come to. I see that the Institute of Medicine, which is an independent group, has said, and most doctors say that they don’t recommend the use of marijuana as the preferred treatment for pain associated with serious illness. They recommend a drug called, a prescription drug called Marinol. But the Institute of Medicine and the American Medical Association have said that there are cases — there are people who can’t get the relief that they need from the prescription drugs that are on the market. And in that case, they recommend the medical use of marijuana under a doctor’s supervision. And to me, that seems like the humane and sensible approach. We’re not talking about legalizing marijuana. I’m against that. We’re talking about making limited use under a doctor’s care of marijuana for people who can’t find relief from pain in any other accepted way. I’m glad I had the chance to answer that question.”
When Macia asked Lieberman a follow up question about whether he would stop the DEA’s raids on medical marijuana patients, he said, “I’ve checked this and found that they’re not numerous. There’s been something like thirteen in the last couple of years. There were a couple under President Clinton. They’ve gone up in number under President Bush and Attorney General Ashcroft. I give you this answer: You’ve got to see what the particular case is. You always want to enforce the law, obviously. But, you know, in the priorities of what I would ask my drug enforcement agency to do, cracking down on sick people using marijuana for medical purposes under the supervision of a doctor — No. That would not be a priority.”
Questioned by GSMM’s campaign coordinator Aaron Houston during his appearance on a live broadcast of C-SPAN on December 2, Lieberman replied, “I asked my staff to check into the … accusations that Aaron and others have made that our Justice Department has been spending too much time carrying out raids on cancer patients, AIDS patients, doctors who are using marijuana as a pain killer. I don’t know that — and I’m waiting for an answer to that. Look, in the range of responsibilities that law enforcement has in America, I would say that carrying out raids on sick people is not one of the higher priorities and will not be in my administration. But in fairness, uh, I want to get a full report before I make any accusations or conclusions about what even this Justice Department, uh and this administration is doing.”
During his October 28 appearance on New Hampshire Public Radio’s program The Exchange, Lieberman responded to a GSMM question, saying, “I was at a forum at St. Anselm College and somebody asked me that last night and I frankly haven’t given it the thought I want to give it, and I’m going to do that real quickly. My recollection is that as a Senator, influenced to a great degree by people like Barry McCaffrey, and some studies that were done, I thought by the Institute of Medicine, that questioned whether marijuana was necessary as a pain reducer, which I gather is what most people are asking about here, whether it wouldn’t be better for the health of people and for society if they used other pain killers. But I’ve now had a bunch of people here in New Hampshire ask me this question and I want to go back and look at it again. One of the gentlemen last night gave me a fact sheet that I’m going to review. So I promise you, keep asking, and as soon as I reach a judgment — which, I’m not going to delay it a long time — I’ll answer that question.”
Questioned about whether he would stop arresting patients as president, at a campaign stop on September 14, Lieberman said, “I would never want, in this setting, to make a blanket statement about what prosecutors might do. I will say more generally that you’d always hope that prosecutors would focus in enforcing the law on the areas that are of most threat to public safety.” Lieberman also mentioned his support for a 1998 Senate Joint Resolution condemning state efforts to remove or reduce criminal penalties for seriously ill people using medical marijuana, which he cosponsored. Lieberman said he did not support state efforts to reduce penalties for medical marijuana patients, “because there was a report from the Institute of Medicine that … said that the case was not made that medical use of marijuana was necessary or even appropriate,” Lieberman said.
At a campaign stop in Manchester on August 31, GSMM asked Lieberman if, as president, he would continue the raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients. Lieberman responded, “I’m going to have to take a pass and get back to you…I didn’t know about that…make sure you give that lady behind you your information and I’ll give you an answer.” Lieberman made his first public medical marijuana statement from the presidential campaign trail on July 6, 2003, telling GSMM he would “probably” sign legislation to allow seriously ill people to use medical marijuana, with their doctors’ approval. Lieberman went on to say, “I’m sympathetic.” Expressing a very different view in a 1999 letter to a constituent, Sen. Lieberman wrote, “State ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana for medicinal use circumvent the established Food and Drug Administration (FDA) drug approval process….” He also indicated he was sorry the resolution described above never received a floor vote.
What Lieberman’s statements mean: On the campaign trail, Lieberman has repeatedly refused to pledge an end to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients in states that have decided to protect patients and their caregivers. Despite the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling that the DEA raids are likely unconstitutional, Lieberman has still refused to pledge an end to the raids.
*All current members of the House and Senate running for president have voted for District of Columbia appropriations bills that included anti-medical marijuana provisions, but there was never a separate vote on any such amendment.
Senator John Edwards (D-NC)
In short: Edwards has publicly stated that he thinks it would be “irresponsible” to end the Justice Department’s policy of arresting patients and caregivers who defy federal law. Edwards gets an “F” grade for refusing to pledge an end to these cruel and heartless raids on medical marijuana patients who are complying with state law.
What Edwards has done: Edwards has not taken any action to protect medical marijuana patients. He has neither cosponsored nor voted on legislation specifically addressing medical marijuana.*
What Edwards has said: Responding to a medical marijuana question at a town hall meeting in Durham on October 5, Edwards said, “What I have said I will do is set up a commission of objective experts in that area as soon as I’m sworn in as president, put them on a 90 day leash. In other words, come back with a report in 90 days and that I will follow their recommendation. If they say that this is necessary in order for these patients to get pain relief, I will do that.”
Responding to a question at his August 24 town hall meeting in Keene Central Square Park about his whether, as president, he would stop Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients, Sen. Edwards reiterated his position that he would not end the raids. When five GSMM members attempted to enter the park with signs protesting Edwards’ position favoring the raids, several campaign staff members stopped them, telling the protesters they could not bring signs into the public park. Edwards’ campaign workers held signs in front of picketers once they entered, attempting to block view of the picketers’ signs from voters and journalists in the park. When public outrage over the tactic mounted, the Edwards campaign workers stopped blocking the placards. Terry Bennett of Keene, who is not a GSMM member, asked Edwards, “Are there going to be supporters with the John Edwards signs all along the campaign trail blocking access to other people with dissenting views?” and Sen. Edwards replied by falsely claiming, “I have seen some of these signs that said ‘John Edwards” … look at this, I saw one over there, I don’t see one now … ‘John Edwards hates cancer patients.’” When Bennett persisted with Edwards, saying “But not by blocking access,” Edwards conceded, “I agree with that, I agree with that. That’s fair, that’s fair.”
When he was asked about stopping Drug Enforcement Administration raids on the seriously ill at his campaign forum on August 21, 2003, Edwards responded, “I don’t think you can say to people who work for you ‘no, ignore violations of the law. I think that’s irresponsible for the president to do … it is what I believe is the right answer right now.”
Responding to questions from Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana on July 7, 2003 on C-SPAN, Edwards stated his intention to set up a commission to study the therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana. When asked if he would jail seriously ill patients while his commission studies medical marijuana, Edwards responded “what’d you just say, there are raids?” However, when asked a week later on July 15, 2003 whether he would continue the current policy of jailing sick patients, he responded “the government has a responsibility to enforce the laws,” echoing a comment he made six weeks earlier.
On May 29, 2003, Edwards was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle , as saying, “I wouldn’t change the [marijuana] law now, but I would set up a committee to see if pain relief is different with marijuana.” The article went on to state that Edwards showed “little sympathy for people arrested for behavior that’s legal under California law.” He continued; “It’s the job of the Justice Department to enforce the law as it presently exists,” said Edwards.
In a February 2003 letter to a constituent, he stated, “I cannot endorse the medical use of marijuana while a significant number of medical professionals continue to oppose this practice.” However, he did promise, “I will continue to follow this issue closely, and I will actively consider the views of opponents and proponents of medical marijuana use.”
What Edwards’ statements mean: In late August, Edwards’ campaign repeatedly attempted to block peaceful protesters with Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM) from expressing their views during campaign events in public spaces. His campaign’s actions raise serious doubts about how an Edwards administration would treat civil liberties. Edwards has also consistently downplayed his own stance, or exaggerated others’ messages in attempts to mitigate the heartlessness of his medical marijuana position. Despite the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling that the DEA raids are likely unconstitutional, Edwards has still refused to pledge an end to the raids.
List of Biggest Pro-Weed Politicians
OK, now that you’ve have had a quick look at some of the most popular politicians who stand firm against the legalization of marijuana (and thus, likely receive a nice chunk of change from Big Pharma), let’s take a look at the politicians who do support decriminalization.
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democrat from Vermont, has publicly admitted that he, himself, used marijuana recreationally in his youth, so it comes as no surprise that he is an advocate for the legalization of weed. In 2015, he introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove weed’s classification as a Schedule I narcotic to the 115th Congress. Though the bill did not pass, it was introduced twice in Congress.
Furthermore, Senator Sanders has also highlighted a plan to decriminalize cannabis use throughout all 50 United States if he were to be elected President when he ran in the 2020 election. Moreover, he has stood behind politicians who have attempted to decriminalize weed in their own bills.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Serving as the junior US senator from New York since 2009, Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, who was also one of the many candidates for President in 2020, was a strong advocate for the legalization of marijuana. In 2019, she introduced a bill that called for the legalization of both medicinal and recreational cannabis use. Additionally, Gillibrand supported Senator Cory Booker, who reintroduced the Marijuana Justice Act in 2019.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA)
In short: Kerry would stop the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients as president. Kerry has previously said he favors federal legislation to allow people with cancer, AIDS, and other serious illnesses to have medical marijuana, with their doctors’ approval.
What Kerry has done: Kerry recently co-authored a letter asking the Drug Enforcement Administration to approve a proposal from the University of Massachusetts Amherst to manufacture marijuana for FDA-approved medical marijuana research. In the October 20 letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, Kerry criticized the National Institute on Drug Abuse’s “unjustified monopoly on the production of marijuana for legitimate medical research.” The letter also notes, “Federal law makes clear that the … bulk manufacture of Schedule I and II substances must be provided `under adequately competitive conditions.’ … The current lack of such competition may well result in the production of lower-quality research-grade marijuana, which in turn jeopardizes important research.”
Kerry has neither cosponsored nor voted on legislation directly addressing medical marijuana.*
What Kerry has said: During a Kerry town hall meeting in Henniker on September 20, Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana (GSMM) asked Kerry, “Would you stop the raids, as president?” Kerry responded by saying simply, “Yes.”
At an August 6 event hosted by his campaign, GSMM’s Linda Macia asked Kerry, “On the day you take office, will you stop the DEA raids?” Kerry offered to “clarify” his earlier remarks, saying, “My personal disposition is open to the issue of medical marijuana. I believe there is a study underway analyzing what the science is. I want to get that scientific review” before making any decisions. He said he would “put a moratorium on the raids” pending this review, but he didn’t commit to any long-term action to protect patients from arrest.
On July 2, responding to a question from Linda Macia, Kerry said, “I’m in favor of” medical marijuana. Kerry added that he wanted “a full analysis of it” and continued, saying, “I’ve been in favor of its prescription, its prescription for people. We even passed a bill in Massachusetts to allow that to happen.”
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is a strong advocate for the legalization of marijuana. In 2017, he introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, the first-ever congressional bill that would incorporate the expungement of records, as well as community investment, with cannabis legalization. The bill didn’t pass, but he reintroduced it in 2019, and it was backed by other pro-weed politicians, including then Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Furthermore, he co-authored the CARERS Act and the REDEEM Act, both bipartisan bills, which detailed the legalization of medicinal marijuana for nonviolent drug offenders, and giving them the chance to clear their records. Though he has never publicly stated his stance on recreational marijuana, Booker has called out politicians who used weed in the past, pointing out that it is still illegal to use by so many people.
Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
In short: On May 29, 2003, Kucinich was quoted in the San Francisco Chronicle as supporting medical marijuana “without reservation” and indicated that as president he would be willing to sign an executive order permitting its use. (You can read the full text of the article here.) This is on the heels of his May 27 announcement calling for a broad rethinking of anti-drug policies, emphasizing treatment over criminalization. On May 1, Kucinich signed on as cosponsor of the positive Truth in Trials Act. He has come full circle on the subject, having voted for the 1998 resolution condemning state medical marijuana initiatives.
What Kucinich has done*: Kucinich was the first Democratic presidential candidate to come out in favor of medical marijuana in May 2003. On July 23, 2003, Kucinich voted for the Hinchey/Rohrabacher amendment to the Commerce-Justice-State appropriations bill that would have barred the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending any money to raid or arrest medical marijuana patients and providers in the states that have eliminated or reduced penalties for medical use of marijuana.
On May 1, 2003, Kucinich became the first of the announced presidential candidates serving in Congress to cosponsor positive medical marijuana legislation: H.R. 1717, the Truth in Trials Act. This measure would remove the federal gag on medical marijuana defendants, allowing federal defendants to present evidence about the medical aspects of their marijuana-related activity. It would keep them from being sent to federal prison if it were determined that they were acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws.
In 1998, Kucinich voted for H.J.Res. 117, a resolution opposing efforts to legalize marijuana or other Schedule I drugs for medical use. The resolution condemned “efforts to circumvent” the Food and Drug Administration’s drug-approval process via state medical marijuana laws, and it contained language suggesting that medical marijuana laws add to “ambiguous cultural messages about marijuana use [that] are contributing to a growing acceptance of marijuana use among children and teenagers.” The resolution passed by a vote of 310-93.
What Kucinich has said: Kucinich bolstered his previous strong public statement on July 22, 2003 with an impassioned speech urging his colleagues’ support for an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have barred the Justice Department, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, from spending any money to raid or arrest medical marijuana patients and providers in the states that have eliminated or reduced penalties for medical use of marijuana. Rep. Kucinich added the mention of his floor speech to his campaign newsletter, saying “He spoke out on the House floor, as he has on the campaign, for an amendment to stop Attorney General Ashcroft’s crusade against patients who use medical marijuana to alleviate their suffering in the 10 states that allow it.”
From the San Francisco Chronicle, May 29, 2003: “Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio became the first Democratic presidential candidate to endorse the legalization of medical marijuana when he told The Chronicle on Wednesday it should be available ‘to any patient who needs it to alleviate pain and suffering,’ regardless of the current federal drug laws. ‘Compassion requires that medical marijuana be available’ Kucinich said during a telephone interview after a campaign stop in Cupertino. ‘We must have health-care systems which are compassionate … so I support it without reservation.’ (You can read the full text of the article here.)
“Kucinich said that as president, ‘I’d sign an executive order that would permit its use.’”
Senator Elizabeth Warrant (D-MA)
A Mass. Senator, who also ran for president in 2020, has long been an advocate for the legalization of marijuana. She is largely in support of decriminalizing weed because of the effects that the illegality of the drug has had on minorities.
During her presidential campaign, Senator Warren detailed that the progresses states who have legalized marijuana have made in raising money through cannabis taxes that would be used to improve communities. As per her plan, the legalization of weed and the removal of being punished by the federal government, would also help to equalize race and class disparities in the United States, she claims.
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY)
Sen. Clinton has publicly promised to end the federal raids on state medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. Sen. Clinton also voted against an amendment in the U.S. Senate that was intended to undermine state medical marijuana laws.
What Sen. Clinton Has Done:
On April 19, 2007, Sen. Clinton voted against the Coburn amendment, which, if enacted, could put medical marijuana patients and caregivers at even greater risk than they already face and could be used by opponents to attempt to shut down state medical marijuana programs across the country.
What Sen. Clinton Has Said:
During a major policy address in Manchester, New Hampshire, on May 29, 2007, Sen. Clinton was asked if she would continue President Bush’s policy of arresting sick and dying medical marijuana patients and their caregivers. Sen. Clinton responded: “Well, I will certainly look into it, I certainly will. There are a number of [medical marijuana] states, right?” When GSMM staff explained to her that 12 states currently have laws that protect medical marijuana patients and their caregivers, she responded, “I think that’s excessive, I agree.”
While meeting with members of the audience at a July 13 campaign rally held at Victory Park in Manchester, a GSMM volunteer told Sen. Clinton, “Twelve states allow medical marijuana but the Bush administration continues to raids patients,” to which she responded, “Yes, I know, it’s terrible.” When the volunteer asked, “Would you stop the federal raids?” Sen. Clinton responded, “Yes, I will.”
During the question and answer portion of an October 11 town hall forum at Plymouth State College in Plymouth, New Hampshire, a member of the audience asked Sen. Clinton, “I have a question about something that pains me deeply — medical marijuana?”
Sen. Clinton responded, “With respect to medical marijuana, you know I think that we have a lot of rhetoric and the federal government has been very intent upon trying to prevent states from being able to offer that as an option for people who are in pain. I think we should be doing medical research on this. We’ve ought to find what are the elements that claim to be existing in marijuana that might help people who are suffering from cancer, nausea-related treatments. We ought to find that out. I don’t think we should decriminalize it, but we ought to do research into what, if any, medical benefits it has. Remember, most painkillers come from poppies. We’ve had all kinds of drugs that have benefited Americans. So you know, we ought to be doing research. If there’s something that could be made available that would be legal, we should look to that because I think that there are a lot of people suffering from debilitating pain, from medical treatments, that they undergo, and there’s no reason they should suffer needlessly if we can have a legal, ethical framework to try to alleviate that pain.”
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Former Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, has long supported the use of medicinal and recreational marijuana. He has also been very vocal about his support for the use and decriminalization of the Schedule I drug. In 2017, Rohrabacher co-founded the Cannabis Caucus on behalf of the House of Representatives.
He was also an avid supporter of companies that produced medical marijuana, and he became a shareholder of BudTrader, a cannabis company, and in 2019, he became a board member of the company. Rep. Rohrabacher’s advocacy for the legalization of marijuana has helped to drive forward agendas that are aimed at decriminalizing weed for the many years that he was in office.
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)
Sen. Dodd has publicly promised to end the federal raids on state medical marijuana programs and has said he would decriminalize marijuana. He also voted against an amendment in the U.S. Senate that was intended to undermine state medical marijuana laws.
What Sen. Dodd Has Done:
On April 19, 2007, Sen. Dodd voted against the Coburn amendment, which, if enacted, could put medical marijuana patients and caregivers at even greater risk than they already face and could be used by opponents to attempt to shut down state medical marijuana programs across the country.
What Sen. Dodd Has Said:
Sen. Dodd was approached twice on May 12, 2007, by GSMM staff and volunteers. At a meet-and-greet in Milford, New Hampshire, we asked if he would end the federal raids on state medical marijuana patients. He responded by saying that he did not want to ban state medical marijuana programs and that he would have to look into it.
Later that day, in Merrimack, New Hampshire, we asked, “You would stop the raids on state medical marijuana programs?” He replied that he would. He added: “Look, we just had a vote on it the other day, in the committee when we dealt with the FDA legislation. We lost the vote here, but there was a senator who brought it up and wanted to ban the use of this altogether. And we pointed out here, and again, states that are doing this, I presume are doing it thoughtfully, and going through a process recognizing this has been — I don’t know enough about the science of this, but I’m satisfied enough that it can be a source of significant pain relief for people and therefore under medication, a doctor’s support, I don’t have the difficulty with that at all.” GSMM staff then asked a follow-up question: “So you would end the federal raids on state programs?” Dodd responded, “Well, if that’s what goes on, then yeah, I would. I want to leave states to decide what the right thing is to do on this.”
On September 12, during an appearance on Slate Magazine’s Political Mashup, Sen. Dodd was asked by comedian Bill Maher, “Sen. Dodd, between illnesses, accidents, homicides, and suicides, it’s been estimated that America suffers roughly 100,000 alcohol-related deaths per year. Marijuana kills virtually no one, and yet, it is such a third rail in American politics to suggest we stop persecuting the people who wish to use this more benign but no less mood-altering and no more of a gateway drug. Can you give me a good reason why, in a free and fair society, marijuana should be illegal?”
Sen. Dodd responded, “Well, Bill, I’ve taken the position, certainly with medical use of marijuana, that it ought to be allowed. And many states — I think 12 or 13 states — allow that today. In fact, we just had a huge debate in the committee in which I serve dealing with the issue. And I’ve strongly advocated that these states not be biased or prejudiced because they allow the use of marijuana for medical purposes. And again, the overall … general [idea] of allowing the decriminalization, I strongly advocate as well … So I would decriminalize or certainly advocate as president the decriminalization of statutes that would incarcerate or severely penalize people for using marijuana.”
Sen. Chris Dodd discusses his position on medical marijuana, after a question from GSMM campaign manager Stuart Cooper.
When Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) appeared on New Hampshire Public Radio’s call-in show “The Exchange” on October 19, GSMM staff asked him: “Senator, there is a group of scientists at the University of Massachusetts that wants to do clinical research on marijuana’s medical value for patients with chronic illnesses such as cancer, AIDS, MS, and this research would allow for FDA trials to finally be conducted on medical marijuana. The DEA is blocking this project, even though a judge said it should go ahead, and it has the support of Senators Kennedy and Kerry. I know you support allowing medical marijuana and marijuana decriminalization, but as president, will you also end DEA obstructionism and let well-designed medical marijuana research go forward?”
Sen. Dodd answered, “Great question. Absolutely! I think you know more about this than I do obviously, but we had a vote recently in our Health and Education committee specifically on this subject matter. I think there are 11 or 12 states that have already allowed it and I thought it was the FDA that was prepared to make judgments about those conditions. And so you want to go through the proper process — and you’ve hit the note right on the head — you ought to be safe and make sure things are secure for people. But I believe very strongly that if this relieves people of the pain and suffering for a number of illnesses, and so forth, that the medical usage of this ought to be permitted. And as president, I would do what I could to see that that was tolerable for people. Great question!”
During an October 20 campaign stop at Chez Vachon restaurant in Manchester, GSMM volunteer and seriously ill patient Linda Macia asked Sen. Dodd: “I want to talk to you for a moment. My name is Linda Macia, and I’m seriously ill. I’m allergic or intolerant to all conventional pain medication. Something that has worked for me has been medical marijuana. I want to know, if you’re president, will you stop the raids on the sick and dying?
Sen. Dodd answered, “Oh, yes, I sure will!”
Representative Tom Tancredo (R-CO)
Rep. Tancredo has been an outspoken opponent of the DEA’s raids on medical marijuana patients and has consistently voted in favor of legislation to end the raids.
What Rep. Tancredo Has Done:
In every year from 2003 to 2006, Rep. Tancredo voted in support of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would have ended the federal government’s DEA raids on patients and caregivers.
What Rep. Tancredo Has Said:
On August 18, in Concord, N.H., a GSMM staffer thanked Rep. Tancredo for consistently voting in favor of ending the federal raids on medical marijuana patients and asked if he would end the federal raids if elected. Rep. Tancredo replied, “Oh yeah. Absolutely. This has nothing to do with the federal government. It has absolutely no role in this … It should be left to the states and to the people. To the extent that this experiment goes on throughout the country, I’m all for it. I mean that’s exactly what the states are designed for: labs of democracy … It’s a big issue with me and I have voted against it every time it has come up.”
The following day, on August 19, another GSMM staffer thanked Rep. Tancredo for his support of the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would have ended the federal raids on medical marijuana patients. During this encounter, the congressman restated his strong support for letting states protect medical marijuana patients and added, “I can’t get over it, because even the arguments that are made, that are constantly made, with regard to marijuana, are irrelevant, totally irrelevant in this debate. It’s not about marijuana, it’s about states’ rights. The federal government has no right to interfere when a state makes that kind of decision … The federal government should stay the hell out of it.”
Former President and Senator Barak Obama (D-IL)
The former president of the United States and a former senator, Barack Obama has been very vocal about his recreational use of cannabis when he was a young teen and a college student. Evidence of his use of the drug has been well-documented in numerous photographs and biographies. While he was president, he supported maintaining state laws that pertained to the sale of cannabis; however, he did not attempt to dismantle those laws.
Obama has referred to marijuana as a discussion that pertains to public health on the same level as alcohol and cigarette use, which helped destigmatize the drug to some degree. Barack Obama’s attempts to destigmatize the use of recreational weed has helped to drive other politicians to make changes to the laws that would hopefully legalize its use.
Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)
Representative Rob Paul, a Republican from Texas, has long been an outspoken advocate for the decriminalization of cannabis. He has voted in favor of legislation that would put an end to the federal raids on medical marijuana patients and their caregivers on a consistent basis.
Paul co-sponsored the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would have prevented the DEA from spending tax dollars on raiding or arresting patients who were using medical marijuana in states that permitted its use.
In 2007, Ron Paul was asked whether or not he would put an end to the raids that were being conducted by the federal government, to which he said, “That’s something that the president ca do. I could just say, ‘state law overrides federal law,’ instead of federal law coming down with a heavy hand.
I think that you can do a lot to end that war without congressional changes because we have the authority, especially if you’re a state – states willing to take on some of these issues. So if a state wanted to start using that authority, they would be allowed”.
Retired Army General Wesley K. Clark
In short: Retired Army General Clark recently pledged unequivocally to stop the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients. Clark also said that, as president, he may sign medical marijuana legislation.
What Clark has done: Clark, a career military officer, has never held elected office.
What Clark has said: Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana’s (GSMM’s) Morgan Lucas questioned Clark during a live broadcast of C-SPAN, asking, “As president, will you sign legislation allowing cancer, AIDS patients and other seriously ill people to use medical marijuana, with their doctors’ approval?” Clark replied, “Well, I’m certainly moving in that direction. I’ve got to see the evidence brought forward, but I just don’t believe that we ought to be using the federal law enforcement means to run down these cases. A number of states have passed these laws. I’ll certainly look at that and I’m certainly inclined to look — to view favorably the requirement and the desirability of medical marijuana.”
During a November 13 town hall meeting hosted by his campaign in Portsmouth, a GSMM member asked Clark if, as president, he would stop the DEA raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients in the nine states where criminal penalties have either been reduced or eliminated for medicinal use of marijuana. Clark replied, “In a simple yes-or-no answer: yes.”
During the opening of his New Hampshire campaign headquarters on October 25, Clark was asked by a GSMM member whether he will sign legislation allowing the use of medical marijuana for seriously ill people with their doctors’ approval. Clark replied, “We’re certainly going to take a very, very serious look at that, and I’m really relieved that people are talking about it.”
At a town hall meeting hosted by his campaign on September 26 in Henniker, Clark was asked by a New Hampshire patient and GSMM volunteer, “General Clark, I’m sure you’re aware that the Bush administration has been arresting, prosecuting and jailing medical marijuana patients despite the fact that they are complying with state law. Would a Clark administration treat seriously ill people the same way?” Clark replied simply “The answer is ‘No.’”
Joe Biden (D-President)
Welp, we did a whole in-depth investigation into Biden’s track record on cannabis and his complete inaction as of 2023 on any sort of cannabis reform. He still has a few more years in office at the time of this writing (2 years) although his party will lose their supermajority (control of both house and senate) during midterms at which point even the remote possibility of reform will be completely, thoroughly, dead.
Politicians & Leaders With Ambiguous Positions on Legalization
Not everyone has taken a pro or anti-cannabis legalization stance on the record. After all, what makes a politician a politician is their ability to avoid answering questions directly. So with that in mind, below are non-comital leaders who like to insert themselves into conversations but don’t have clear positions, as far as we could discern.
Reverend Al Sharpton
In short: Incomplete. Although a critic of mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenders, Sharpton has not spoken on the issue of medical marijuana. It’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be a supporter, but until he speaks to this issue, we cannot grade him.
What Sharpton has done: Sharpton has never held elected office. In 1991, he founded the National Action Network, which works on a variety of social issues. (He has worked extensively with activists seeking to reform New York’s draconian Rockefeller drug laws.) We are not aware of any actions Sharpton has taken directly related to medical marijuana.
What Sharpton has said: We are not aware of any public statements by Sharpton about medical marijuana. Please check back for updates as the campaign progresses.
Senator Mike Gravel (D-AK)
While former Sen. Gravel has yet to make a public statement regarding his stance on the DEA’s policy of raiding and arresting seriously ill people who use medical marijuana, he has clearly stated that he is a proponent of the legalization of marijuana.
What Former Sen. Gravel Has Done:
Sen. Gravel has neither cosponsored nor voted on any legislation specifically addressing medical marijuana.
What Former Sen. Gravel Has Said:
During an interview on C-SPAN on May 1, 2007, Sen. Gravel announced that he would end marijuana prohibition altogether if he becomes president. A caller asked, “What do you think about legalizing marijuana?” Sen. Gravel replied, “The answer to that is real simple. I would legalize marijuana.” You can watch the full C-SPAN interview with Sen. Gravel.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY)
The former mayor of New York City has stated publicly that he does not support ending the federal raids on state medical marijuana patients and caregivers.
What Former Mayor Giuliani Has Done:
Mayor Giuliani has neither cosponsored nor voted on any legislation specifically addressing medical marijuana.
What Former Mayor Giuliani Has Said:
On June 6, 2007, at a town hall meeting in New Castle, New Hampshire, Mayor Giuliani talked about being a strong proponent of states’ rights and individual freedom. Former Maryland statehouse delegate Don Murphy asked Mayor Giuliani, “Considering your comments regarding choice and personal responsibility, can you please comment on marijuana use by cancer and AIDS patients with their doctors’ approval?”
To this Mayor Giuliani replied: “I believe there are a lot of alternatives people have other than using marijuana.”
Just over a month later, on July 10, 2007, at a town hall meeting in Concord, New Hampshire, Mayor Giuliani was asked if he would end the DEA’s raids on seriously ill patients and their caregivers living in the 12 states that have passed medical marijuana laws. He responded, “Good question. I told you we were going to disagree about something. Sit down and I’ll tell you what you’re going to disagree with. I’m very opposed to any form of legalizing marijuana; I think is a mistake. I know a lot about this particular area for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is as a prosecutor for more of my life then anything else. You can accomplish everything that you want to accomplish with things other than marijuana, probably better. Meaning, there are pain medications much superior to marijuana. And, marijuana is a very dangerous substance. And, in an era in which we want — I have always found this really strange — in an era in which we’re really worried about clean air, clean forests, and clean atmosphere, why people want to pollute their bodies with things that are really, really damaging, I don’t get. We’d be much better off telling people the truth; marijuana adds nothing to the array of legal medications and prescription medications that are available for pain relief. And marijuana is a very serious and addictive drug that particularly harms lots and lots of young people. And we should keep it illegal, and I will keep it illegal.”
Herb CEO Summary
Talking about federal legalization, let alone just decriminalization (which would be a pretty easy first step given that is already at the time of this writing the law in Washington D.C where our government resides) is a tricky subject because American leadership has been pretty crumby about being held accountable to their campaign promises.
Some of it is just how the human brain works, the electorate is quick to forgive and forget when promises aren’t upheld, or they swallow half-baked excuses without question.
Just look at Biden’s campaign in 2020 when he said his administration would “pursue cannabis decriminalization as well as seek expungements for people with prior cannabis convictions“. Once elected however, and with his party in control of both the house and senate, that campaign promise evaporated, like so many others.
The point isn’t to dog on Biden, he’s just the most recent in a long list of political failures that promised logical reform and never followed through. The United States government is an entirely owned subsidiary of corporate America and corporate America is home to big pharma, which stands to profit little from cannabis reform, so here we remain.
I still hold out hope, that one day, we hit rock bottom, the electorate wakes up and realizes that it isn’t left vs. right but instead top vs bottom and we unite to squeeze some accountability out of our “representatives”. If corporations are people then why can’t people be corporations? Shouldn’t are voices be heard as well?
When corporations get behind something, which is slang for, when a corporation gives money to help get a politician elected, as in, a bribe, they are then delivered assumed favorable treatment thereafter. Usually this screws over the average working man and woman, but in some rare instances corporate interest and public interest do overlap, as was the case with hemp cultivation in which big agriculture convinced the federal government to allow cultivation of hemp. Yay I guess?
The point is that sometimes the winds will blow into your sail as opposed to against it. That said we cannot sit in our boat forever just waiting for the wind. We need to mobilize as an electorate and demand action, the country will be so much better off it is pretty much a moral imperative at this point.