Since the last federal election in 2012, the USA has seen a significant change in voter attitude towards the topic of both recreational and medical marijuana. Along with the nation’s capital, four states have voted to legalise the sale and use of marijuana for not only medical but also recreational purposes. The majority of candidates view these states as an experiment for potential legalization throughout the USA, and whilst some may not personally agree with legalizing marijuana, they are keen to give the voters what they want. Due to the growing demand for marijuana reform, the issue has certainly seen increased prevalence on many presidential candidates’ platforms.
The Democratic candidates tend to have a range of different viewpoints on the subject of marijuana legalisation, however their opinions tend to be less surprising than the Republican party shift, which shocked the nation. Hilary Clinton is quite open in her support of marijuana for medical purposes, however, she hasn’t come out in favour of legalisation for recreational purposes just yet. She has announced that she supports reclassifying the drug from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, in order for researchers to have easier access to it with many researchers believing that cannabis has anti-tumour qualities. On the other hand, her major opponent and fellow democrat Bernie Sanders, has made no secret of his support of marijuana legalisation. He has long been in favour of legalisation of the drug and will push to make it legal for both recreational and medical use in all states.
Donald Trump’s stance on marijuana is pretty hard to lock down, like many other of the candidate’s views. Although he says that America has lost the War on Drugs, his viewpoints on whether or not cannabis should be decriminalised or legalized are conflicting. Back in the 1990’s, Trump was in favour of legalising weed, however, today he has shifted to a more hard-line approach, disagreeing with marijuana for recreational purposes but supporting it for medical purposes. However, in 2015, Trump announced that he would be happy to ‘let individual states decide’ their own laws regarding the legalisation of recreational marijuana should he take office.
At state level, it appears that there has been a significant impact due to the legalisation of marijuana in Washington, DC and other states. This ‘experiment’ of sorts has definitely changed the viewpoint of many when it comes to marijuana use, with even Colorado governor John Hickenlooper softening his once dead-against position and acknowledging the benefits of legalisation. Almost two decades of marijuana use for medical purposes and an extensive amount of research has certainly started to open minds in not only DC but across a number of other states, with sixteen states expected to have measures on the ballots which will help legalisation of marijuana across the USA this election cycle. Legalisation is expected to open up opportunities for even further research regarding marijuana for both recreational and medical purposes.