On Marijuana: What Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders Would Do
During Tuesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton were asked about their views on the legalization of marijuana.
Sanders stood in favor of legalizing it, citing that too many young people throw their lives away with petty drug charges.
“I would vote yes because I am seeing in this country too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses,” he said. “We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana.”
In true Clinton fashion, she was less willing to take a stance. She was asked if she supported legalizing recreational marijuana, to which she responded, “No.”
“I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today,” she said. “I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.”
But Clinton said she agreed with Sanders on reforming the criminal justice system when it comes to punishment for pot.
“We have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana,” she said. “Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don’t have this terrible result that Senator Sanders was talking about where we have a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana.”
Both answers, however, mark just how far the political conversation surrounding marijuana has come since 2008.
6 takeaways from the debate
Tom Angell, chairman of the pro-pot group Marijuana Majority, said, “Legalization is at the forefront of mainstream American politics, and politicians are starting to treat it as such.”
“As a point of reference, in 2008 no major candidate even supported decriminalization when asked in a debate, and our movement had to chase them around New Hampshire and repeatedly harass them just to garner pledges to stop federal raids on state-legal medical marijuana patients,” he said.
Photo credit: Philly.com