Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton talked up medical marijuana during a visit to Jimmy Kimmel Live in March. She didn’t soften on her current opposition to legalizing the drug at the federal level but said she supports significant reform.
The conversation started with Kimmel reading a joking email from Clinton, who described ordering apples, which she swore wasn’t code for pot. Kimmel then moved to her position on legalization under federal law.
Clinton, former first lady, senator, and secretary of state, differs with her opponent in the Democratic primaries, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, on how to approach cannabis reform. Sanders has called for full legalization at the federal level, while Clinton says she wants to give states more time to prove the idea works.
Clinton support state laws and federal rescheduling of marijuana
“I think what the states are doing right now needs to be supported,” Clinton said, emphasizing the federal government should learn more before moving toward legalization. “There are still a lot of questions we have to answer at the federal level. What I’ve said is, let’s take it off what’s called the ‘schedule one,’ and put it on a lower schedule and actually do research about it.”
Schedule one is one of five categories of drugs included in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Substances in this schedule include heroin, LSD, and peyote – as well as marijuana.
The drug’s inclusion has bothered activists and reformers for decades. Schedule one is limited to the drugs considered most dangerous, most addictive, and least medically useful. But cannabis has many proven medical uses, a fact Clinton acknowledged.
Indisputable evidence of efficacy of medical marijuana
“There is some great evidence about what marijuana can do for people” who suffer from cancer, chronic disease and pain, she said. The drug’s listing on schedule one prevents most research into its efficacy as medication and its safety for general adult use.
Clinton, like Sanders, favors removing cannabis to schedule 2 or a lower list. Schedule 2 includes drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, which are considered dangerous and addictive but medically useful under limited circumstances.
Sanders wants to move marijuana to an even lower schedule, allowing for full legalization, or to remove it from the Controlled Substances Act altogether. Clinton, for her part, has said she’ll keep an open mind about further drug reforms.
Downgrading cannabis is difficult under current law and the politics of the Obama administration. Either Congress or the DEA can reschedule the drug, but lawmakers have balked and President Barack Obama has refused to direct the DEA to act. Without a direct order from the president, the agency almost certainly won’t move to reschedule the drug.
Kimmel closed his marijuana chat with Clinton with another joke – noting that his sidekick Guillermo has been researching the issue all on his own.
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