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With the upcoming 2016 Presidential Election edging closer and closer, one of the biggest issues on the cards is the legalization of cannabis.

If we take a look at some of the leading presidential candidates in each respective party, it might come as a surprise what their stances really are.


Donald Trump

(Source: Wikiquote)

In the past, Trump favored legalizing drugs and using the tax revenue to fund drug education programs because it would take away the profits from the drug lords, thus ending the War on Drugs in the 1990s. Now, Trump said as recently as six months ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference he feels differently about marijuana legalization now.

“I think [regulating marijuana is] bad and I feel strongly about that,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of problems going on right now in Colorado, some big problems.”

Trump does, however, support legalization of medical marijuana referring to it as a “different thing” than recreational legalization.

Not only had Trump totally switched his role in a span of 20 years, he still remains somewhat confused as to what his actual stance is. When asked about states’ rights and marijuana law, Trump said, “If they vote for it, they vote for it.”

Position – Pro-Medical, Anti-Recreational

Ben Carson

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

As a neurosurgeon, Carson understands the benefits of medical marijuana use. But, he still deems marijuana as a gateway drug and thus is strongly against its recreational use. He deems it “a starter for people who move on to heavier duty drugs” and says, “I don’t think this is something we really want for our society.”

Position – Pro-Medical, Anti-Recreational

Carly Fiorina

(Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Considering she lost her stepdaughter to drug addiction, you would think she would be against it as much as Jeb Bush is. Fiorina is against the legalization of marijuana by saying, “I think it’s misleading to young people in particular when we tell them smoking pot is like drinking beer. It is not.” However, she supports a state’s decision to choose on its own.

Florina has not officially come out against medical marijuana but she has expressed strong doubt in the medicinal value of cannabis. In a February issue of Slate she said, “I remember when I had cancer and my doctor said, ‘Do you have any interest in medicinal marijuana?’ I did not. And they said, good, because marijuana today is such a complex compound, we don’t really know what’s in it, we don’t really know how it interacts with other substances or other medicines.”

Position – Anti-Medical, Anti-Recreational

Marco Rubio

(Source: Twitter)

Back in 1987, Rubio’s brother-in-law was imprisoned for drug conviction, which likely signifies his current stance against marijuana legalization. As someone who has had drugs hit close to home, Rubio is in favor of enforcing stronger laws even in states where marijuana is already legal saying, “there’s no responsible way to recreationally use [marijuana].”

However, the jury is still out concerning Rubio’s stance on medical marijuana. He hasn’t come out for or against it, probably because there’s a vote on it in his home state of Florida soon.

“You hear compelling stories of people who say the use of medical marijuana provides relief for the thing they are suffering,” Rubio told the Huffington Post. “I’d like to learn more about that aspect of it, the science of it.”

Position – Undecided Medical, Anti-Recreational

Jeb Bush

(Source: Wikipedia)

For someone that smoked marijuana in high school, Bush is vehemently against its legalization in any form. He even went as far as siding with opponents of medical marijuana legalization in Florida claiming it would hurt the state’s ‘gleaming’ reputation.

“Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” he said. “Allowing large-scale marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes runs counter to all of these efforts.”

Bush does support states’ rights to establish their own policies regarding cannabis but disagrees with Colorado voters by announcing on C-SPAN, “I would have voted ‘no’ if I was in Colorado.”

Position – Anti-Medical, Anti-Redreational

Ted Cruz

My Approved Portraits
(Source: Texas Senate)

In the past, Cruz has been critical of the Obama administration for the decision to not enforce Federal law in states that voted to regulate and tax cannabis recreationally. At the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, however, Cruz changed his stance to support states’ rights.

He is still opposed to legalizing cannabis for adult use but he does respect the right of a state to choose for itself and believes the federal government should not get involved.

Position – Anti-Medical, Anti-Recreational

Rand Paul

Official Portrait
(Source: Kentucky Senate)

As a libertarian, Paul is a strong supporter of states rights. He also believes the War on Drugs was a war solely designed to put minorities in jail and prison.

“I think to put somebody in jail for 10 years for possession of marijuana or sale of marijuana is ridiculous,” Paul said.

While Paul has not taken a stance on recreational legalization, he has co-sponsored a bill that would allow cannabis-related businesses access to the banks.

Position – Pro-Medical, Undecided Recreational


Hillary Clinton

(Source: Wikipedia)

As the wife of former President Bill Clinton who infamously claimed he smoked marijuana, but didn’t inhale, Hillary’s stance is a little stricter than most other Democrats. She favors medical marijuana use, but only in extreme cases.

In terms of recreational use, Hillary feels it best to sit back and wait to see how its legalization in states like Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Alaska before taking an actual stance on it.

“States are the laboratories of the democracy,” Hillary told CNN. “We have at (four states) that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”

Position – Pro-Medical, Undecided Recreational

Bernie Sanders

Sanders-021507-18335- 0004
(Source: Wikipedia)

Probably the strongest legalization activist within the presidential candidates, Sanders co-sponsored the States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, which reclassifies marijuana as a schedule 2 from a schedule 1 drug. He also thinks industrial hemp should not be considered as marijuana, co-sponsoring the Industrial Hemp Act too.

In terms of recreational use, Sanders has expressed some concerns but believes that legalizing and regulating cannabis would have an overall positive impact. When asked at the Democratic Presidential Debate how he would vote on legalization he said, “I suspect I would vote yes.”

Position – Pro-Medical, Pro-Recreational

Joe Biden

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden in his West Wing Office at the White House, Jan. 10, 2013. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann) This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
(Source: Wikipedia)

Surprisingly, the current Vice President’s stance on cannabis legalization is much different than most Democrats. Biden is strongly against its legalization and still says it’s a gateway drug. He does, however, believe the criminalization of it is a bit excessive.

“There’s a difference between sending (someone) to jail for a few ounces and legalizing it,” Biden told ABC News. “The punishment should fit the crime, but I think legalization would be a mistake.”

Position – Anti-Medical, Anti-Recreational



As it currently stands, Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul are the strongest candidates for cannabis. We will continually update this article as new information becomes available to us and stances are made more clear.

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