Monday, July 24, 2017

Five states will vote on marijuana legalization Nov. 8. Polls show strong public support in all of them, but one is especially important, maybe more critical to the future of marijuana reform than the other four states combined.

That state is California, where roughly 60 percent of voters say they plan to support Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Prop. 64 would legalize adult purchase, possession, and use of up to 1 ounce of pot, as well as home grows of up to six plants.

California is home to nearly 40 million people, making it the most populous state in the country by far. If cannabis is legalized in the Golden State, it would become the world’s largest legal marijuana market.

Five states will vote on legalization

The other states voting on the issue this year are Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Public support is at or above 50 percent in each of these places, but all require a majority vote to amend their constitutions.

Even if one or two of the initiatives fail, a victory in California by itself could permanently speed up the pace of reform in the rest of the country. If nothing else, it would put heavy new pressures on the federal government to deal with the spread of legal weed.

Democrat Hillary Clinton, a shoo-in to win the presidency, would likely have to deal with the cannabis question early in her administration. It’s unclear what her ultimate position would be, but she has promised to reschedule the drug and allow states to legalize under their own laws.

California legalization vote

Still, pot remains illegal for any use under federal anti-drug laws. The DEA, the primary agency responsible for enforcing those laws, has shown little desire to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, and President Obama has refused to direct his attorney general to make that happen.

At the same time, Congress has taken a slow approach to legalization, passing laws that protect medical marijuana patients but not recreational tokers. The general trend has been toward reform, but it has yet to reach a tipping point.

Majority support for AUMA

That moment will probably come at the ballot box in the Golden State. Assuming California marijuana advocates win, almost a third of the American population would live in states where recreational pot is legal. The new laws would need at least a few years to take full effect, but each of the five states has a preexisting medical marijuana industry that would ease the transition to recreational sales.

National support for legalization has been on the rise, with about the same percentage of Americans and Californians, 60 percent, backing the idea. Once the state’s voters pass Prop. 64, it will likely be impossible for the country to reverse course.

Leave a comment and let us know: Do you live in California? If so, how do you plan to vote on Prop. 64? Why?

Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas billionaire, newspaper publisher, and casino magnate, is one of the Republican Party’s wealthiest backers. He is also one of its staunchest.

And now Adelson, who has thrown at least $100 million into the campaigns of Donald Trump and other GOP candidates, is giving a bit more in an effort to stop marijuana legalization.

Adelson disclosed in October that he has donated $2 million to groups opposing legal cannabis in Nevada. The state will vote on the issue on Election Day. Public support is strong, giving the measure a strong chance of success.

Adelson’s money alone won’t stop Question 2, the initiative that would make recreational marijuana use legal across the state. Even his massive financial presence in Las Vegas won’t make much of a difference.

Sheldon Adelson

But his contributions are a sign of the growing desperation among legalization opponents. As state after state reforms its cannabis laws, the odds of turning back the tide grow ever slimmer.

Adelson is best known as a billionaire supporter of conservative causes. He has been one of the biggest donors to GOP candidates in 2016 and one of the few financial titans to openly back Trump. Adelson’s newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, gave the GOP nominee his first – and only – major editorial endorsement.

Biggest contributer to Protect Nevada’s Children

Adelson’s most recent campaign finance disclosures, filed Oct. 17, show he is the biggest contributor to an anti-pot political action committee called Protect Nevada’s Children, giving the group $1.8 million. Three of his casinos have also donated tens of thousands of dollars to the committee, which was formed explicitly to defeat Question 2.

Marijuana Leaf and Cash MoneyWith roughly $2 million in the bank, Protect Nevada’s Children has almost equaled the $2.1 million raised by marijuana reformers who support Question 2. But Adelson has done little to convince voters they should reject the measure.

Though mostly associated with conservative political campaigns, Adelson also gives significant amounts of money to a wide range of charitable causes. He and his wife have founded addiction treatment clinics, an experience that may contribute to his anti-marijuana views.

Battling legalization in Massachusetts

Nevada isn’t Adelson’s only target. He has already given $1 million to stop legalization in Massachusetts – though his money is unlikely to have any effect in that deep-blue state.

Adelson also opposes a medical marijuana vote coming in Florida, donating $1 million to that cause. He helped defeat a similar proposal in the Sunshine State two years ago by giving $5.5 million.

Nevada and Massachusetts are among five states voting on legalization proposals next month. The others are Arizona, California, and Maine. Recent polls show at least one or two of the measures will pass, including California.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think: Do big-money donors like Sheldon Adelson make any difference in the outcome of legalization votes?

Medical marijuana states vote

It’s common knowledge by now that five states will vote on marijuana legalization Nov. 8: Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Recent polls show support is strong in all these places, with chances good for a five-state sweep.

But cannabis initiatives in three other states have received much less coverage this election season. These proposals on the ballot in Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota, would legalize medical rather than recreational pot.

Arkansas, Florida and North Dakota will all vote on medical cannabis on Election Day – (Click to Tweet)

There’s nothing new about this – nearly 30 states already allow medical cannabis use – and that may explain the lack of interest in these votes. But they’re critical nonetheless. Here’s a look at what’s at stake for MMJ patients on Election Day.

DALY CITY, CA - APRIL 18: A bowl of medicinal marijuana is displayed in a booth at The International Cannabis and Hemp Expo April 18, 2010 at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California. The two day Cannabis and Hemp Expo features speakers, retailers selling medical marijuana smoking paraphernalia and a special tent available for medical marijuana card holders to smoke their medicine. Voters in California will consider a measure on the November general election ballot that could make the State the first in the nation to legalize the growing of a limited amount of marijuana for private use. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Arkansas: Issues 6 and 7

Arkansas voters will decide whether they want to legalize marijuana as a medical treatment for as many as 56 qualifying conditions. But the choice could prove confusing, as there will be two medical pot initiatives on the ballot at the same time.

Issue 6 would allow patients to buy small amounts of cannabis from dispensaries but not grow it at home. The question is structured so that if it passes, the Arkansas Legislature could not change its provisions without a second public vote.

Issue 7, by contrast, would be subject to amendments and repeal by lawmakers. It would cover more conditions than Issue 6 and, most importantly, it would allow limited home grows. Reform advocates generally prefer Issue 7 to 6.

Florida: Amendment 2

Amendment 2 in Florida would allow patients with any of 10 specified conditions to buy, possess, and use small amounts of cannabis as medicine. In addition, doctors could prescribe the drug for other disorders if they believe it could help patients.

A similar effort in 2014 garnered 58 percent of the vote but failed because Florida law requires 60 percent to amend its constitution. But the odds look better this time around, in part because presidential elections tend to produce healthier turnout among the younger, more progressive voters who most support legalization.

North Dakota: Measure 5

Voters in North Dakota will decide whether they want to allow patients with “debilitating medical conditions” to obtain and use whole-plant marijuana. If the proposal passes, the state would become one of the most conservative to approve medicinal weed.

Medical marijuana new yorkA similar measure failed to make the ballot in 2012 after officials declared thousands of voter signatures fraudulent. And chances aren’t great this time, either. North Dakota is a deep red state, and what few polls there are have never shown support reaching 50 percent.

But in North Dakota as elsewhere, every vote matters. As more states legalize cannabis for recreational use, medical marijuana votes get less and less attention, and that means pot advocates must stay vigilant if they want to see reform continue its advance.

What do you think? Will medical marijuana pass in any of these three states? Leave a comment.

There’s no avoiding it: Election Day is almost here, and roughly 99 percent of the American public couldn’t be happier to see it pass. It has been that ugly.

But ugly is not the same as unimportant. The stoner vote is critical, not only in legalizing marijuana in more states, but also in choosing a president whose decisions will impact drug policy for generations.

So how best to use your vote? Here are our endorsements for Election 2016.

California: Yes on Prop. 64

California is about to legalize marijuana, give birth to the world’s largest pot market, and forever change drug law in America. With public support around 60 percent, Proposition 64 is expected to pass, but every vote matters.

Prop. 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would allow adults over 21 to buy, use, and possess up to 1 ounce of pot, and to grow up to six plants at home. It would also impose a special sales tax and stringent industry regulations.

marijuana leaves

Among the many important issues on the 2016 ballot, this is easily one of the biggest for tokers. It’s also an easy call. We recommend a yes vote on 64.

Nevada: Yes on Question 2

Nevada voters face essentially the same decision as their California neighbors. Question 2 would legalize sale, possession, cultivation, and consumption of small amounts of cannabis in private. The proposal requires a majority vote to pass, and polls show it winning roughly 50 percent, so it could still go either way.

That means every vote could make the difference between legal weed and continued prohibition. If you live in Nevada, please get out and vote yes on Question 2.

Marijuana Vote

Arizona: Yes on Prop. 205

Arizona’s Proposition 205 would legalize the purchase, possession, and use of up to 1 ounce of weed, plus home cultivation of up to six marijuana plants. With public support strong, if not yet strong enough to breathe easy, advocates are hopeful.

Arizona, like Nevada, requires a vote of at least 50 percent to pass a constitutional amendment. The most recent polls show slightly more than half plan to vote yes, putting Prop. 205 on the edge of victory. But your vote could help tilt it over the top, so we recommend a yes vote.

Maine: Yes on Question 1

You may notice a pattern here. Five states will vote on legalization, and the proposals are all very similar. But the rules would be a bit less strict under Question 1 in Maine. Adults would be allowed to use up to 2.5 ounces of pot and grow up to six flowering plants at home.

Polls show support for Question 2 is strong at about 53 percent. But even that is close enough that every vote matters. We support this initiative and hope you will too.

Massachusetts: Yes on Question 4

Question 4 is another easy call. This Massachusetts initiative would legalize possession of up to 10 ounces of cannabis in private and up to 1 ounce in public. Like the other proposals, it would also impose new regulations and a sales tax.

Many of the state’s political leaders have pushed back against Question 4, but public support stood at 55 percent as of early October. Still, it would be foolish to assume victory is guaranteed – especially if you don’t make the effort to vote.

Hillary Clinton for President

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton

It should be clear by now that there are only three viable choices for stoners in the general election. Libertarian Gary Johnson promises the purest vision of drug reform; Green Party candidate Jill Stein strongly favors legalization nationwide; and Democrat Hillary Clinton says she would reschedule marijuana under federal law while supporting further legalization in the states.

Republican nominee Donald Trump, meanwhile, is imploding on the campaign trail and is no longer a serious candidate for the White House. This is not a bad thing for tokers: Trump never represented realistic hope of reform. He is too erratic, too inconsistent, too unreliable to be trusted.

Clinton isn’t perfect for reformers who see change coming too slowly. But she’s the strongest choice available, by far. A vote for Stein or Johnson is wasted. A vote for Clinton is the best step toward ending pot prohibition forever.

Tell us: How will you vote in November? Leave a comment below.

Life may never be the same for stoners after Nov. 8. Five states – Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada – will vote on legalizing marijuana, and polls in all five suggest the odds are good for victory.

Four states have already legalized cannabis for any adult use, while another 25 allow full medical marijuana and more than a dozen permit a non-intoxicating medical form of the drug. But so far, all these votes have been treated as political experiments, with uncertain outcomes and far-from-universal public support.

But that is changing. And if even a few of the five states vote yes, there may be no returning to the days of pot prohibition. That’s especially true if weed is legalized in California, the most populous state in the country.

Gaining momentum

It’s not an exaggeration to say Election Day will be a major turning point for marijuana reform in America. That was true in 2012, when Colorado and Washington legalized the drug, and in 2014, when Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia followed suit.

But it may be even more true in 2016. If all five ballot initiatives pass, they would more than triple the number of Americans with access to legal cannabis. Roughly 18 million people live in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia, compared to 56 million in California, Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

Even if California is the only state to legalize marijuana next month, the number would more than double. The Golden State, with 38 million residents, would immediately become the largest legal cannabis market in the world by far.

California to vote on Prop. 64

Voters there will decide Proposition 64, which would make it legal for adults to buy, possess, and use up to 1 ounce of pot and grow up to six plants at home. Prop. 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would also impose special excise and sales taxes and create regulations for a newly legal cannabis industry.

Polling in California suggests the initiative is likely to pass, with about 60 percent saying they plan to vote yes. The proposals on the ballot in the other four states are less popular but still winning at least 50 percent support.

american flag and weed

Almost any combination of victories could prove to be the tipping point for the rest of the United States. If California, Arizona, and Nevada vote yes, marijuana would be legal along the entire Pacific Coast and in much of the American Southwest. If either Maine or Massachusetts legalize, reform would reach the East Coast for the first time.

And that’s not to mention ballot questions that could bring medical cannabis to Florida, North Dakota, and Arkansas. Voters in Montana could also add provisions to the medical pot law there.

Are reformers becoming too complacent?

But many advocates worry success has become so commonplace voters and reformers will become complacent. Opponents, meanwhile, are ramping up their efforts to block legalization in as many states as possible. Their long-term goals are hopeless, but any setback could slow reform for the rest of the country.

“California is much closer than we’re hearing about,” Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana told The Atlantic. “It’s a coin flip in all of the states right now.”

Sabet offered no data to refute recent polls in California, but he’s right that the votes could go either way in the other four states. Still, the experience of Americans who have already legalized pot suggest this could be a very good year for marijuana reform.

Let us know: How do you think states will vote on legalization initiatives Nov. 8? Leave a comment.

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It was already settled fact, but in September Arizona’s highest court made it official: The state’s voters will decide in November whether they want to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The Arizona Supreme Court handed down a ruling in late August rejecting a legal challenge to a legalization initiative slated to appear on the ballot Nov. 8. The decision clears the last remaining hurdle to a public vote on the issue.

The challenge was filed by an anti-marijuana group, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, which says the initiative and its supporters are using unconstitutional “bait-and-switch tactics” and lying to voters. The ballot text is “misleading” and “incoherent,” opponents say, and fails to explain important provisions.

Anti-marijuana argument dismissed in court

But a lower court dismissed that argument, a ruling the Supreme Court affirmed. The judge who heard the initial lawsuit methodically dismantled opponents’ contentions, but her ruling was based primarily on problems with standing – the plaintiffs’ legal right to sue in the first place.

The Supreme Court, however, opted to take a different approach. Rather than “wade into” a question they considered “murky at best,” the justices instead dismissed the lawsuit on its merits. In the ruling, Chief Justice Scott Bales said the ballot summary substantially complies with laws governing voter referendums.

Weed Arizona

The ruling could prove important to the future of cannabis reform in other states, but its most critical effect is ensuring legalization will appear on the Arizona ballot on Election Day.

Prop 205 would allow adult use of up to 1 oz of marijuana

If the initiative passes, adults aged 21 or older would be allowed to buy, carry, and use up to 1 ounce of marijuana. They would also be able to grow up to six pot plants at home in an enclosed space and keep the resulting cannabis at home.

The proposal is similar to laws passed in Colorado and Washington in 2012 and in Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia in 2014. It would treat cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol, with a 15 percent sales tax used to pay for public school construction and other education programs.

Advocates quickly praised the Supreme Court ruling. Barrett Marson, spokesman for the statewide Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, called it “a good day for voters who want to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona.

Arizona’s voters will decide

“Voters will get the opportunity that they requested,” Marson said. “More than 258,000 people signed a petition to put this before the voters. The Supreme Court agreed voters should have the final say on whether adults should have the right to legally purchase marijuana.”

Activists needed 151,000 voter signatures to qualify for the ballot, and more than 175,000 were ultimately certified as valid. Opponents of the measure say they will now work to directly convince Arizonans to vote it down.

gavel

“Our goal now is to make sure that every Arizonan enters the voting booth in November with a full understanding of both the intended and the unintended impacts of the 20 pages of new laws in Prop. 205,” said Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. “We hope all citizens will read the lengthy legalese before voting and will learn how devastating Proposition 205 would be to our state if passed.”

The high court ruling came about the same time a Maricopa County judge ordered a small change to the Prop. 205 ballot text. Judge James Blomo ruled that state officials mistakenly inserted language saying the law would apply to adults “over 21,” when in reality it would legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older.

Tell us: Do you think Arizona voters will legalize marijuana in November? How would that effect reform elsewhere? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

There’s no question Election Day 2016 will mark a critical moment for stoners. Voters in at least five states will decide whether they want to legalize marijuana for recreational use – and that’s not to mention a presidential election that could determine the course of reform for years to come.

But how big will Nov. 8 really be? And how does it rank against the elections of 2012 and 2014?

Those were the years when Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia voted to legalize cannabis. Voters in California, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and Arizona will vote on legalization in November.

The decision in California is especially important. It’s the most populous state in the country, with nearly 40 million residents. Observers note that legalization would make the Golden State the “epicenter” of the world’s legal pot industry, and polls show the proposal is likely to pass.

California is the big prize

Legalization initiatives in other states are almost as critical. If both Arizona and California legalize marijuana, the drug will be available for any adult use along the entire West Coast and a large part of the desert Southwest. New Mexico and even Texas would feel increased pressure to do the same.

ballot legalize

The ballot initiatives in Maine and Massachusetts matter because victory there would bring legal marijuana to the East Coast for the first time. Once those states have voted yes, the rest of New England could soon follow suit. Vermont lawmakers have already tried to legalize the drug but fell short of success earlier in 2016.

Just two or three victories on Election Day would mark a new watershed in the reform movement, especially if those wins include California. A five-state sweep would be a remarkable step forward and a sign that reform will continue into the foreseeable future.

Turning point in marijuana reform

But the presidential election is equally important. Neither candidate is particularly well-liked by voters, but the legal pot industry strongly prefers Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. While Clinton and the Democratic Party have promised to move toward federal legalization in coming years, Trump has made only vague statements on the subject.

More worrying, though, is the fact that the Manhattan billionaire has proven highly unreliable in his professed policies. Saying he wouldn’t interfere with state-level legalization doesn’t guarantee he really wouldn’t.

American Flag Marijuana Joint

It can be hard if not impossible to rank the importance of elections when it comes to legal cannabis. Certainly 2012 was a massive turning point, as Colorado and Washington became the first jurisdictions in the world to fully legalize the drug. Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia took the same step two years later, making 2014 almost as critical.

But 2016? This Nov. 8 will definitely matter, big time, but we won’t really know how much it will matter until at least Nov. 9.

What do you think? Will November 2016 matter more than 2012 or 2014? Why? Leave a comment below.

No one could blame you if you’ve spent the last year with your head jammed inside the chamber of your favorite bong. Every election season is exhausting, but 2016 will have a special place in the history of dispiriting politics.

american flag marijuanaStill, if you care about the pot you smoke, your legal right to use it, and the amount of money you spend on it, you should pay attention this year. There’s a lot on the line in November, even for potheads who really couldn’t care less about the electoral process. Here’s why.

Five States Will Vote on Legalization

Voters in five states will decide whether they want to legalize marijuana for recreational use. They include Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

California

The Golden State is the prize to beat all prizes. If legalization passes here – as is widely expected – another 39 million people would have access to recreational cannabis. The drug is already legal for medical use, and almost any adult can get it with minimal hassle, but full legalization would encourage a more regulated marijuana industry and generate huge tax revenue for state coffers.

Prop. 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, would make it legal for adults aged 21 or older to buy, possess, and use up to 1 ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants on private property. Proponents have raised far more money than opponents, and public support for the idea is strong.

Arizona

Arizona’s Prop. 205 would legalize possession of an ounce of pot and home grows of up to six plants. As in California, Arizona law would impose a special sales tax on the drug to fund school construction and other public projects.

The Arizona initiative was formally cleared for the November ballot earlier this year, but a group of opponents has sued to block the petition. They say the initiative failed to include full details about how legalization would work. Advocates reject that claim and say they followed the rules.

Maine

Known as Question 1, Maine’s legalization proposal would likewise allow adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow as many as six plants at home. Activists got their petition cleared for the ballot in April, but not before the state pulled a legal stunt in a failed attempt to stop them.

Elections officials announced in March that they had invalidated tens of thousands of signatures over the credentials of a single notary public. A court overturned the decision, and reformers succeeded in getting legalization in front of voters on Election Day.

Massachusetts

ballot legalizeIn Massachusetts, which borders Maine to the south, Question 4 would legalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana in public and up to 10 ounces at home. Adults aged 21 or older could also grow up to six plants.

As in Maine, opponents used legal maneuvers to block the initiative, claiming it misled voters by failing to tell them the bill could allow edibles and hash oil. But a judge ruled for proponents of the initiative, guaranteeing a spot on the ballot.

Nevada

If voters approve Question 2 in Nevada, adults could carry up to an ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to six plants on private land – but only if the property is located at least 25 miles from a retail pot shop. Nevada is one of the most sparsely populated states in the country.

The legalization question cleared the ballot here in 2014, long before activists reached that goal elsewhere. The proposal came about in part as a means to enforce more effective regulations on the state’s medical marijuana market, which has had a sometimes rocky road since it was created in 16 years ago.

Election Day is less than three months away, and potheads have a lot invested in it. It isn’t just that voters in several states will decide whether to legalize the drug; the outcome of the presidential race could also dramatically reshape the future of cannabis reform.

So of the two candidates – Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump – which would be best for the legal marijuana industry? Pollsters decided to find out the answer to that question, and it was nearly universal: Clinton, industry insiders say, offers at least a ray of hope for legalization while Trump simply can’t be trusted.

Democrats add reform to party platform

That’s not much of a surprise. In recent months, Clinton and the Democrats have moved to the left on a long list of political issues, including marijuana reform. Where once the party supported only an “open mind” about the possibility of future legalization, its platform now openly calls for that step nationwide.

General opinion polls show Clinton leading Trump by 7 or 8 percentage points as of the second week of August, but the spread is much wider in the legal cannabis industry. Marijuana Business Daily polled a sample of these players July 27-28. The results, released in August, showed Clinton winning the support of 43 percent of professionals and executives, compared to 26 percent for Trump, 15.5 percent for Libertarian Gary Johnson, and 5 percent for other candidates.

Clinton leading among those in marijuana industry

Clinton’s 17-point lead over Trump is unusual even for stoners, who tend to vote heavily for liberals and Democrats. This year may present these people with an even starker choice than usual, since Democrats are moving visibly toward legal cannabis while Republicans can’t seem to get their story straight.

Industry support for the bombastic GOP nominee is much stronger among respondents who invest in the legal cannabis industry rather than working in it, though their support for Clinton is also a bit stronger than it is among executive and professionals: The Democrat gets 46 percent of the vote from investors to Trump’s 38 percent and Johnson’s 8 percent.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s smaller lead among this group may stem from the fact that American investors tend to be fairly conservative, which makes them more likely to favor Trump even if he might someday block marijuana reform. Executives and professionals, by contrast, may be more aware of that threat.

“Trump does not have an official policy position on marijuana and it’s often hard to tell where he stands on issues,” Marijuana Business Daily reported. “He said earlier this year that he is ‘in favor’ of medical marijuana ‘100%,’ but has also said several times that he believes recreational marijuana ‘is bad’ and is ‘causing a lot of problems in Colorado.'”

In other words, as is true with almost any political subject, there’s no way to predict what Trump would do once in the White House. Would legalization spread further and faster during his administration? Or would he let his attorney general – presumably New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – crack down on the states that legalize pot? No one seems to know, and that’s exactly the problem.

Tell us what you think: Who would be better for legal weed, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? Is there any issue other than marijuana that would convince you to vote for one or the other? Comment below.

Donald Trump, GOP nominee for president, says he wouldn’t try to stop states that opt to legalize marijuana if he’s elected.

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

During an interview in July, Trump told Denver TV station KUSA he “wouldn’t do that.” He was answering a question from reporter Brandon Rittiman about the contradictory position taken by campaign surrogate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

Christie, a former prosecutor, ran against Trump in the primaries but dropped out this spring. He vowed during his campaign to use federal anti-marijuana laws to block new states from enacting legalization and stamp it out where it already exists. The governor is widely considered the leading contender to become Trump’s attorney general, a job that would put him in a position to crack down on legal cannabis across the country.

The drug is legal for recreational use in four states and the District of Columbia but is completely prohibited by federal law. Christie said he would use the Department of Justice and the DEA to wipe out legal marijuana markets in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

Christie vowed to stamp out legalization

“If you’re getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it,” Christie said last summer. “As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws.”

Rittiman noted the conflicting positions during the interview, pointing out that Christie was “the only presidential candidate who was campaigning saying he would use federal authority to shut down sales of recreational marijuana in states like Colorado.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

“Yeah, I wouldn’t do that, no,” Trump replied.

“You wouldn’t let him do that?” Rittiman asked.

“No,” Trump said.

“Even if you picked him as A.G.?” Rittiman asked.

“Well, I don’t know,” Trump said. “You’re asking me. I wouldn’t do that, no.”

Pressed on whether he thinks Colorado “should be able to do what it’s doing,” Trump responded, “Well, I think it’s up to the states. Yeah, I’m a states person. I think it should be up to the states, absolutely.”

How would Trump approach federal reform?

The interview didn’t answer a few key questions, however. For one, Trump didn’t provide any details about what, if anything, he would do to further reform at the federal level. It would be nearly impossible for the DOJ to shut down legal pot in states that have adopted it, making his stance on federal legalization more important than his position on states’ rights.

The greater problem, though, is that Trump is notoriously slippery on almost every political subject. He changes his mind on major policies almost daily and has offered conflicting views on legalization. In the 1980s he supported legalizing all drugs; now he sometimes says he supports legal marijuana while at other times saying it would be a bad idea to allow even that.

In other words, there’s no way to know whether Trump would really allow more states to legalize, let alone whether he would push for federal legalization. And that’s bad for reformers and voters who prefer practical solutions to vague promises.

Let us know: Do you think Trump would legalize marijuana? Can you trust him if he says he will? Leave a comment below.

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