Hillary Clinton has never really taken the issue of marijuana legalization as seriously as the current political climate dictates a presidential candidate should in order to have a fighting chance at gaining control of the White House in 2017. Yet the Democratic front-runner made some adjustments to her pot philosophies over the weekend in South Carolina, where she announced that cannabis should be reclassified Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act to make medical marijuana research more accessible.
“What I do want is for us to support research into medical marijuana because a lot more states have passed medical marijuana than have legalized marijuana,” Clinton said. “So we’ve got two different experiences or even experiments going on right now. And the problem with medical marijuana is there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions, but we haven’t done any research. Why? Because it’s considered what’s called a Schedule I drug, and you can’t even do research on it.
“If we’re going to have a lot of states setting up marijuana dispensaries so that people who have some kind of medical need are getting marijuana, we need know what’s the quality of it, how much should you take, what should you avoid if you’re taking other medications,” she went on to say.
It seems a bit opportunistic, but astonishingly consistent with the flip-flop nature of her campaign for Clinton to offer support for federal reform following Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ introduction of a proposal last week in the U.S. Senate aimed at eliminating prohibition on a nation scale.
Nevertheless, the only thing Clinton has really done is suggest that the time has come to downgrade marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II, but she has not offered any real course of action intended to bring this concept to fruition if she becomes president.
Last month, during the first Democratic debate in Nevada, Clinton said that while she does not support recreational marijuana, “we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how” medical marijuana can benefit the American people.
Earlier this year, there was some noise on the campaign trail that suggested Clinton was on the verge of taking sides on the issue of marijuana legalization that would appease most proponents of the issue. Attorney John Morgan, the man behind a proposal to legalize medical marijuana in Florida next year, said he was “very satisfied” with Clinton’s position on legalization after having a discussion with her at a Democratic fundraiser. Representative Earl Blumenauer of Oregon, who has been reportedly working closely with Clinton on a number of issues, suggested that she “would be at least as good, if not better” then President Obama when it comes to addressing policies associated with marijuana reform.
But there are some concerns that Clinton’s newfound talk about amending the Controlled Substances Act is just a greasy political spiel that will not actually translate into any real action if she does win the election next November. After all, while Clinton has maintained that she supports medical marijuana, she has not signed on as co-sponsor for any marijuana-related legislation looking to do exactly what she claims should be done.
Reason’s Jacob Sullum pointed out in his piece over Clinton’s rescheduling proposal that she has not given any support to the CARERS Act, which seeks to make marijuana a Schedule II drug and essentially open the door to the creation of a nationwide medical marijuana industry. Therefore, since she has failed to support legislation in 2015 that would reschedule the herb, it is very unlikely that Clinton would actually make an honest effort to initiate the rescheduling process once she is calling the shots in the Oval Office.
Democrat Bernie Sanders, the first presidential candidate to not only support marijuana legalization but to take action on the issue using his role as a U.S. Senator, said in a statement that he was “glad to see Secretary Clinton is beginning to address an issue that my legislation addressed, but her approach ignored the major issue. Secretary Clinton would classify marijuana in the same category as cocaine and continue to make marijuana a federally regulated substance.”
“If we are serious about criminal justice reform and preventing many thousands of lives from being impacted because of criminal convictions for marijuana possession,” Sanders continued, “we must remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and allow states the right to go forward, if they choose, to legalize marijuana without federal legal impediments.”
What do you think? Would Hillary Clinton get your vote in 2016? Tell us in the comments below.