The legalization movement in the United States has gained momentum in recent years. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia now have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Four states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use.

2016 presidential candidates and potential candidates from both parties have taken many positions on the issue, although none of them as of yet has actually advocated for outright legalization. Here’s a rundown of what the candidates have said regarding marijuana laws.

Hillary Clinton (D)

The democratic favorite expressed support for research into the potential benefits of marijuana. The former Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, and First Lady has said “I don’t think we have done enough research yet, although, I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances.”

On laws allowing recreational use, Clinton told CNN last year, ‘You know, states are the laboratories of democracy. We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to see what the evidence is.”

Bernie Sanders (D)

The Vermont senator supports the legalization of medical marijuana. As a house member, Sanders has voted repeatedly in favor of amendments to prevent the DOJ from spending money to interfere with state medical marijuana laws, and he co-sponsored the States’ Rights to Medical Marijuana Act, a bill to reschedule cannabis and provide greater protections for patients.

“The state of Vermont voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and I support that. I have supported the use of medical marijuana,” Sanders told a Reddit Ask Me Anything session. “And when I was mayor of Burlington, in a city with a large population, I can tell you very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana.”

As far as legalization for recreational use, “I’m going to look at the issue. It’s not that I support it or don’t support it. To me it’s not one of the major issues facing our country,” Sanders told Time magazine.

Ted Cruz (R)

At the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, Sen. Cruz said he is opposed to legalization for adult recreational use, but he also believes that states should have the right to establish their own marijuana policies. However, Cruz has also criticized the Obama Administration in the past for not enforcing federal marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington.

Cruz told the Texas Tribune in March of this year, “I don’t support drug legalization, but I do support the constitution. I think states can choose to adopt it. So, if Texas had it on the ballot, I’d vote against it, but I respect the authority of states to follow different policies.

 John Kasich (R)

The Governor of Ohio is “totally opposed” to legalization for any purpose, but believes states should “probably” have the right to establish their own policies. In November, voters could make Ohio the first Midwest state to legalize marijuana.

“On medical marijuana, doctors that I know tell me we don’t need that, there are other ways to treat pain.” OhioCapitolBlog 2012

Donald Trump (R)

The successful businessman and reality television star opposes legalization, but supports access to medical marijuana and has also suggested support for letting states determine their own policies.

“I’d say [regulating marijuana] is bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad and I feel strongly about that.” [In response to states’ rights] “If they vote for it, they vote for it. But, you know, they’ve got a lot of problems going on in Colorado right now, big problems. But I think, medical marijuana, 100%.” C-SPAN 2015

To see where the candidates stand on other issues, check out the articles below:


Climate Change

Gun Control


Image Courtesy of Hupu2 [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons