Clinton Vows Tepid Leadership on Cannabis

Published on January 26, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

You’re aware the year ahead could be a big one for cannabis, yes? You’ve read thosearticles? You know prohibition has torn apart families, dashed futures, and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars? You know more Americans than ever support legalization?

Seems you’ve been paying more attention than Hillary Clinton.

In a radio interview Monday with a CBS affiliate in Boston, the Democratic presidential candidate doubled down on her wishy-washy, parade-following position on cannabis:

I think that states are the laboratories of democracy, and four states have already taken action to legalize, and it will be important that other states and the federal government take account of how that’s being done, what we learn from what they’re doing. And I do think on the federal level we need to move marijuana from the Schedule One of drugs, move it to Schedule Two, which will permit it to be the basis for medical research. … A lot of experts in the field are telling me we’ve got to learn a lot more. For example, you’re taking marijuana for medical purposes, how does it interact with all the other drugs you’re taking? What should be the right dosage?

Nothing in that answer is flat-out wrong. But it’s a series of true statements that add up to nearly nothing. Clinton’s essentially saying she’d consider loosening rules on cannabis by regulating it like opium or cocaine. The bare minimum of reform. A great half-shuffle forward.

Clinton is a politician. If she wanted to convey righteous outrage over the drug war’s atrocities, she’d be well equipped to do it. From overcrowded prisons to racial inequities, there are plenty of failings to exploit. But instead she continues to offer safe, mealy-mouthed responses about an issue on the verge of massive change.

It’s hard not to see parallels to Clinton’s historically slippery stance on same-sex marriage. After more than a decade of opposition, she began publicly supporting marriage equality in 2013, only after it had become politically safe to do so. She landed on the right side of history, but only moments before history made clear her previous position was the wrong one. One can only guess where she’ll stand come November.

How Would a Hillary Clinton Presidency Affect the Cannabis Movement

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Ben Adlin
Ben Adlin
Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin
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