Marijuana Legalization: Why You Can’t Really Trust Trump or Clinton

Silhouettes of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, both of whom should have marijuana voters concerned

Silhouettes of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, both of whom should have marijuana voters concerned | Desk/AFP/Getty Images

There are a lot of reasons to dislike Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. Likewise, there are a lot of reasons not to like Democrat Hillary Clinton. However, the 2016 election has proven to be one for the ages, and though Clinton may have ended up succumbing to her faults and spotty past against almost any other candidate, all signs are pointing toward a big victory come Election Day. Trump simply has too much working against him — scandal after scandal after scandal.

One issue that is of interest to many, but not necessarily a hot topic between Clinton and Trump, is that of marijuana legalization. Though Democrats have more or less been won over as public opinion has shifted over the past several years, and state experiments in Colorado and Washington have proven successful, hardcore conservatives and Republicans are still standing pat against it.

That may give off the notion that a vote for Clinton is, in all likelihood, a legalization advocate’s best bet. But, as we’re finding out, there may not actually be a good bet this time around.

When it comes to marijuana, the two candidates seem to be more or less on the same page. Our next president will probably not view legalization as a positive thing for the country, and may (unlike President Obama) use their powers to roll things back, despite several states experiencing success with legalized marijuana.

Hillary Clinton on marijuana

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton waves after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton waves after the first presidential debate at Hofstra University | Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

We haven’t had much to draw on when trying to determine how Clinton feels about marijuana, and legalization specifically. Until recently, that is.

The Democratic Party did take a big step earlier this year when it decided to vote on a “pathway” to legalization as a part of its platform. It’s in part a way to help restructure the criminal justice system, but it’s also been hard to ignore that legalization has fired up the party’s base. But, even though the party nominated Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate, we still haven’t gotten a straight answer as to how she’d go about dealing with it as President.

She’s previously said she’d support rescheduling cannabis, for example, but she’s also sent signals that she’d take a more conservative approach. We simply don’t know how she feels.

We didn’t know, until Wikileaks released a trove of hacked emails that gave us some more perspective. According to a report from Reason, Clinton said that she was against legalization “in all senses of the word” as recently as March of 2014. Her views may have evolved since then, but she has been known to be rather hawkish on certain issues — and given the Clintons’ history when it comes to criminal justice, it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see her try and tighten the reins as more states attempt to legalize.

Donald Trump: The law and order candidate

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during his campaign event

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during his campaign event | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Trump, on the other hand, is the self-proclaimed “law and order candidate” — a title he uses with no irony whatsoever. Trump’s won over supporters with promises to curb immigration, support the police, and basically use his powers as President to bring down the hammer on those who wish to break the law or do the country harm. He’s had a smattering of different policy ideas, but really nothing he’s stuck to so far.

Frankly, it’s hard to think that the self-proclaimed “law and order candidate” would be supportive of legalizing marijuana. But Trump’s also made it hard to gauge his stance on the issue — like Clinton, he’s sent mixed signals. Recently, however, he’s been playing it up for the anti-drug crusaders that still mostly reside among the Republican base.

He’s called for drug testing prior to the debates, for example. He’s also called for increasing or reinstating mandatory minimums for drug offenders. Again, two actions that don’t send the message that he’s warming up to the idea of marijuana legalization.

And his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, is a fierce anti-drug warrior in his own right — Indiana’s drug laws are very strict compared to other states, and he’s actively worked to increase the penalties for crimes related to cannabis, rather than lighten them.

So, we’re facing two options, and neither of which seem particularly stoked on the idea of legal cannabis. That doesn’t necessarily mean that legalization will come to an end under either administration, but there doesn’t seem to be a winning way to vote on this year’s ticket.

Follow Sam on Facebook and Twitter @SliceOfGinger

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