The presidential hopefuls for 2016 have weighed in on a number of issues over the last several months as they gear up for the primary push. With more states acquiescing to the legalization of marijuana, many people are concerned with where the 2016 candidates stand on the access to drugs and the legalization of drugs that have historically been classified as illegal.
The majority of the candidates have voiced their opinions on the subject, with their positions ranging from moderate to extremely conservative.
While admitting to having used marijuana in the late 1960s, presidential hopeful former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) has taken a strong stance against the legalization of marijuana. He has stated that his use of marijuana in the past was stupid, and that he does not believe that legalizing it is in the best interest of the country.
He also supports increasing funding to create programs that reduce teen substance abuse.
Dr. Ben Carson
Republican candidate Dr. Ben Carson stands somewhere in the middle on the issue of drug legislation. While opposing the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, he does support legalizing medical marijuana. According to Carson, his religious convictions kept him from using during the ’60s when it was popular among people his age.
Former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), also former Secretary of State, has taken somewhat of an ambiguous stand on the drug issue. According to the Wall Street Journal, she is clear in her support of medical marijuana; however, she has chosen to withhold judgment, for now, on the recreational use of marijuana. It is likely that she will defer to individual states to make the final decision on recreational use.
While Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has not weighed in on the actual issue of access and legalization, he believes that mandatory minimum sentencing for drugs should be reduced. Mandatory sentencing laws are becoming a significant issue among many constituents on all sides of the political arena.
While many of his counterparts have been soft spoken on the issue of drugs, especially marijuana, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has taken a stern stance. He is not in favor of needle exchange programs, nor does he support medical use of marijuana, voting against both in the Washington, D.C., area.
When it comes to the issue of drugs, former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) has been outspoken in favor of increased sentencing standards for drug offenses. He is also in favor of drug courts for nonviolent offenders, believing that drug courts might be a more effective response to the rise in drug abuse and drug addiction. He has remained relatively quiet on the issue of legalization and access.
Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) has been clear in his stance against any type of legalization of drugs, although he has suggested that too many people are locked up for casual drug use. He believes the focus should be placed on rehabilitation for individuals who struggle with addiction.
While Republican Donald Trump has made it clear that he never uses drugs or consumes alcohol, he is for the legalization of drugs, suggesting that the tax revenue generated by the legal sale of drugs should be used to fund drug education on a national scale.
While there are a couple of candidates who are taking a hard-nosed approach to the issue of drug legalization, the majority are finding a comfortable median that will allow them to successfully navigate along the line of public opinion. With the legalization of certain drugs having the potential to impact the nation both socially and economically, it will likely play an integral role in the 2016 election moving forward.
Photo credit I, Daniel Schwen [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Reinhold, Beth, “Third Way,” Wall Street Journal, 2014
Staff, On the Issues – Drugs, On The Issues, 2015