Marijuana-Friendly Gubernatorial Candidates Win Big In Tuesday’s Primaries

Marijuana-Friendly Gubernatorial Candidates Win Big In Tuesday’s Primaries

It was another big day for the marijuana legalization movement on Tuesday.

Voters in three out of four states that held primary elections nominated vocally pro-legalization Democratic candidates for governor.

From Vermont to Minnesota, all but one of the new Democratic gubernatorial nominees has gone on the record endorsing adult-use marijuana systems, and the fourth at least supports decriminalization and medical cannabis and wants a referendum on more broadly ending prohibition. As debates over the best direction for the party continue, it’s become increasingly apparent that cannabis reform is a winning issue for Democrats across the country.

Connecticut

Turning to Connecticut, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ned Lamont has called for a system to tax and regulate cannabis. Speaking at a senior living facility in July, the businessman and politician said legalization is “an idea whose time has come.”

Another resident of the facility chimed in, The CT Mirror reported: “And it’s not bad for you!” Lamont went on to tell the audience that marijuana is “not a gateway drug compared to opioids” and that he’d use revenue from a regulated system to fund opioid treatment programs in the state.

On the Republican side, Bob Stefanowski won the party’s gubernatorial nomination. At the final Republican primary debate earlier this month, the then-candidate admitted that he’s used cannabis—but he said more research was needed before the state, which already has medical cannabis and marijuana decriminalization, legalizes for adult-use.

Minnesota

Minnesota’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN), also ran on a pro-legalization platform. The state’s current marijuana policy has “failed,” and he pledged to implement a recreational cannabis system that “creates tax revenue, grows jobs, builds opportunities for Minnesotans, protects Minnesota kids, and trusts adults to make personal decisions based on their personal freedoms.”

During his time in Congress, Walz repeatedly raised the issue of legal access to cannabis for veterans.

Walz opponent, Republican gubernatorial primary winner Jeff Johnson, doesn’t back an adult-use system. In an interview with Minnesota Public Radio last month, Johnson said he remained concerned about the impact of legalization on “work productivity, safety on the roadways and reproductive health.”

Vermont

In Vermont, Christine Hallquist became the first transgender candidate to win a major party gubernatorial nomination. She told Heady Vermont that she’d “work with the legislature to ensure that a tax and regulate system was passed into law in my first term” in an interview earlier this month.

“I think that enough research has been done and enough systems implemented that I don’t really feel the need to dictate a specific system,” Hallquist said. “Rather, I believe it would be my job to work collaboratively with all stakeholders—legislators, interest groups, et cetera—to make sure the system is a reality.”

Hallquist will face off against incumbent governor, Phil Scott (R), who said he signed a law allowing adults 21 and older to possess and cultivate cannabis in January with “mixed feelings.” He’s since expressed reservations about expanding the state’s marijuana system, saying “[w]e’re not ready, I don’t believe, for a tax-and-regulate system at this point in time.”

He said the state wouldn’t be ready for legal cannabis sales until it addressed issues related to education, mental health and impaired driving on highways.

Wisconsin

The outlier in Tuesday’s primary race—at least when it comes to full legalization—was Wisconsin’s Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Tony Evers. He was the only major Democratic candidate for governor that didn’t back legalization, saying he’d like to see a state referendum on the issue first.

(Numerous counties in Wisconsin will vote on non-binding advisory questions about legalization in November—a move that may bolster lawmakers and whoever is elected governor to take marijuana reform seriously in 2019).

In February,Evers responded to a tweet saying that he’d push for decriminalizing marijuana possession as a means of improving living conditions for marginalized groups in the state.

Evers’s campaign website notes that he supports legalizing marijuana for medical use in Wisconsin.

“Tony believes it’s time for Wisconsin to join nearly 30 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing medical marijuana. As a cancer survivor himself, Tony is all too familiar with the side effects of a major illness that can make everyday tasks, like making your bed or even showering, a challenge.”

The incumbent governor, Scott Walker, clinched the Republican nomination on Tuesday. He’s consistently opposed cannabis legalization for both medical and recreational purposes, and he believes that marijuana is a gateway drug.

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

Marijuana-Friendly Gubernatorial Candidates Win Big In Tuesday’s Primaries

Photo by Drew Taylor on Unsplash

What Tuesday’s Primary Elections Mean for Marijuana

What Tuesday’s Primary Elections Mean for Marijuana

The results from Tuesday’s congressional and gubernatorial primary elections are in, and while the candidates campaigned on wide-ranging platforms, some of the results could mean a lot for state and federal marijuana reform.

Marijuana Moment put together a recap, examining where several of the primary winners stand on cannabis. While a number of other House primary elections took place throughout the country, the list below includes races where marijuana issues were relatively prominent.

Indiana U.S. Senate Primary

Republican winner: Mike Braun

During a debate last month, Braun said: “I think if a state wants to go to medical marijuana, it ought to be their prerogative.” But he also said that he was still “out on the issue” when it comes to his personal support for medical cannabis. It’s not clear based on that statement whether the businessman meant that he was undecided or opposed to reform, but he went on to say that “states are a great laboratory,” indicating that if elected to the Senate he would support efforts to scale back federal prohibition, at least when it comes to medical use.

“It’s happening right in front of us,” Braun said during the debate. “We’ll see what happens.”

Marijuana Moment reached out to Braun’s campaign office for clarification. This story will be updated if a response is received.

Of note is that Braun beat out two Republican challengers who have voiced steadfast opposition to marijuana legalization and have consistently voted against reform amendments as U.S. House members.

Democratic incumbent: Sen. Joe Donnelly

The incumbent senator earned a “D” rating from the pro-legalization group NORML due to his consistent failure to support federal legislation to reform marijuana laws. In 2007, during his time in the House, he voted against a measure to prevent federal interference in states where marijuana is legal. According to Civilized, Donnelly has said that it would not be “prudent” to legalize or decriminalize cannabis.

Ohio Gubernatorial Primary

Democratic winner: Richard Cordray

Cordray, the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has been sheepish about his personal stance on marijuana legalization. However, he’s been critical of Ohio’s medical marijuana program, which he feels was poorly implemented.

In a statement sent to Marijuana Moment last week, a spokesperson for Cordray said that he’d “fix the botched implementation” of the program” if elected and would also respect “voters’ right to propose a new [recreational marijuana legalization] referendum” and “follow the will of the voters if it comes to a vote.” The spokesperson declined to comment on Cordray’s personal feelings about recreational legalization.

Republican winner: Mike DeWine

While DeWine, Ohio’s attorney general, has been relatively quiet about his stance on medical marijuana, he did say in 2014 that he thinks legalizing the plant for recreational purposes would be “a mistake.”

At a press conference with law enforcement, he acknowledged that legalization could take the substance off the black market and lead to fewer deaths from gang violence. That said, he still felt legalization would send a bad message to youth, saying that experts informed him that cannabis was a gateway drug to heroin “in some cases” and expressing concern that full legalization would mean “more people killed by someone who is high on marijuana” on highways. He’s also rejected several petitions to change that state constitution with respect to cannabis reform—though he’s attributed those rejection decisions to issues with the language of the petitions, not the underlying policy issue.

Ohio U.S. Senate Primary

Republican winner: U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci

The U.S. congressman hasn’t said much about marijuana, and he also hasn’t supported federal legislation to reform the country’s cannabis laws—including measures to protect legal states from federal interference, provide marijuana businesses with banking access, or allow Department of Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend cannabis to patients.

In a recent interview with the Dayton Daily News, he did provide some insights into his perspective on the issue. Renacci said that he was “closely watching” Ohio’s medical marijuana program and voiced clear opposition to recreational marijuana legalization.

Democratic incumbent: U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown 

Like many career politicians on Capitol Hill, Brown’s position on cannabis has evolved over the years. But that hasn’t necessarily been reflected in terms of introducing or co-sponsoring reform legislation.

Earlier, this year, when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Cole memo—which offered some protections against federal intervention in states where marijuana had been legalized—he spoke out, arguing that the Sessions should “mind the store on other things” and “put his efforts into this terrible addiction issue about opioids and worry less about medical marijuana.” However, Brown has also peddled the debunked gateway drug theory that marijuana leads users to harder drugs, and he’s said that he felt concerned that legalization would increase youth consumption. Brown is on the record defending the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, stating that “the evidence is in that [marijuana] works for a number of patients.”

West Virginia U.S. Senate Primary

Republican winner: Patrick Morrisey

The West Virginia attorney general has said that it was important to be “open-minded” about medical marijuana legalization because it “may provide some relief to those who truly may be in need and hurting.” However, Morrisey was clear during a debate hosted by local television station WSAZ last month that he was “opposed to it for recreational use.”

https://www.facebook.com/wsaz3/videos/10155920981524702/

Morrisey said that recreational marijuana was “another gateway into this terrible drug problem.” 

Democratic winner: U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin

Though Manchin has faced criticism over his opposition to the legalization of cannabis—most recently during an April 5 town hall event where the senator was booed for suggesting that the substance was a gateway drug—he did reportedly cast a voice vote in support of a spending amendment that prevents federal intervention in state medical cannabis laws.

According to NORML, Manchin also said that he “would lean more to listen to the doctors, the professionals who are responsible for our health,” with respect to marijuana reform.

West Virginia U.S. House Primary (District 3)

Democratic winner: Richard Ojeda

The state senator and former Army veteran is decidedly pro-legalization. He sponsored a bill to legalize medical marijuana in West Virginia last year, which was signed into law by the governor on April 19, 2017. A statement on Ojeda’s campaign site makes his stance clear:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l5GaJbqbHxE

“Through comprehensive cannabis legislation, encompassing decriminalization, medical, and industrial use, we can utilize one of the most medically beneficial and economically viable plants on Earth to fight the opioid epidemic, generate revenue to fund new education and infrastructure initiatives, and address the problem of overpopulation within our state correctional facilities,” it states. “With a comprehensive approach to cannabis policy, we can put West Virginia on a path to a prosperous future and grow a new economy that will benefit the people of our state for generations to come.”

See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:

What Tuesday’s Primary Elections Mean for Marijuana

 

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