It’s more than a year before election 2016. Still, even at this early point, it can be helpful to get a sense of where things are likely headed in next year’s presidential contest. This is especially true when it comes to marijuana-related issues, since the pace of reform is changing dramatically, from day to day.

So here is a brief, if extremely tentative guide to the early campaign season, 2016. From candidates who support legalization to those who vow to fight it, marijuana is sure to play a central role all the way through.

Hillary Clinton, Democrat

Hillary Clinton

Still widely considered the all-around frontrunner in 2016, Hillary Clinton has yet to take a cemented position on legal weed, one way or the other. She has offered relatively strong support for medical marijuana, but she hasn’t thrown her weight behind full legalization. She hasn’t ruled it out, either, and it’s looking increasingly unlikely that she will.


Chris Christie, Republican

governor chris christie

Chris Christie, New Jersey’s notoriously loud governor, is considered a decided longshot in the pursuit of the GOP nomination. He’s currently running well behind the pack. But he’s also the one candidate who has packed the most bluster into his threats to stop legalization. Like fellow Republican Marco Rubio, Christie says he’ll use the weight of the federal government to stop states like Colorado from changing their cannabis laws.


Bernie Sanders, Democrat

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is widely considered the most likely candidate to back legalization. He hasn’t done it yet, but an announcement could come any day. If it does, he would be the first major-party candidate in modern American history to back full legalization of marijuana. Sanders has picked up a growing base of support within the Democratic Party, posing a left-wing challenge to Clinton’s presumptive frontrunner status.


Donald Trump, Republican?

Donald Trump

God only knows whether Donald Trump will even be a Republican in six months, let alone whether he’ll push for legal grass. His position on legalization, like his position on almost everything, is all over the map. But don’t expect a strong push for reform from The Donald anytime soon; most recently he said he’s against it. That could easily change should he survive to the general election, either as the GOP nominee or as a third-party candidate.


Jeb Bush, Republican

Jeb Bush

Like most of the rest of the Republican field, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush wants legalization left to the states. He’s against the idea but supports states’ rights to try it if they want. In other words, he’s unlikely to seek a Christie-style crackdown. But he isn’t likely to be very helpful to the reform movement, either. And it may not matter: His prospects aren’t great at the moment.


Rand Paul, Republican

Rand PaulThe same is true of Rand Paul, senator of Kentucky. Once the GOP’s Great Libertarian Hope, Paul now stands almost no chance of winning the nomination. This is too bad, since he’s the lone Republican candidate who generally supports reform. He hasn’t backed legalization quite yet, but he’s seen as friendly to the idea.



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