Marijuana Policy Project's Grades for Presidential Candidates: Worst to First

The Marijuana Policy Project's grade for presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Additional graphics and more below.
The Marijuana Policy Project's grade for presidential hopeful Donald Trump. Additional graphics and more below.

As we noted last week, Colorado's legalization of limited recreational marijuana sales was a topic at the most recent Republican presidential debate, staged in Simi Valley, California.

But how do the GOP candidates, as well as announced Democrats, stack up when it comes to their approach to cannabis in general?

The Marijuana Policy Project has come up with grades for each person running, as judged by the standards of the organization, which promotes progressive policies. Note that MPP's communications director is Mason Tvert, one of the main proponents for Colorado's Amendment 64.

Below, see graphics and excerpts from MPP text in regard to each official candidate — plus Vice President Joe Biden, who is reportedly still on the fence, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who (update) dropped out of the race this afternoon — ranked from lowest grades to highest.

Spoiler alert: There are plenty o' grades of D or below — making entrepreneur Donald Trump, who recently announced that he has big problems with Colorado's pot laws, seem practically liberal on the subject in comparison.

To see the original post, featuring much more information, click here.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Chris Christie (R)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced he is running for president on June 30, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Gov. Christie opposes the legalization of marijuana and has spoken out repeatedly against states that have legalized marijuana for adults.

He opposed New Jersey’s medical marijuana law, which was signed by his predecessor, and he has imposed strict restrictions on the program that have hampered its effectiveness.

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.

Rick Santorum (R)

Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania announced he is running for president on May 27, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Former Sen. Santorum is opposed to the legalization of marijuana for any purpose, including medical use. He does not believe states have the right to set their own marijuana policies and supports enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have rejected them.

Vice President Joe Biden.
Vice President Joe Biden.

Joe Biden (D)

Vice President Joe Biden is widely rumored to be considering a run for president in 2016.

Where does he stand?

As a senator, Biden took a hard line against marijuana. He spearheaded legislation that created the federal “drug czar” position and mandatory minimum sentencing for marijuana-related offenses.

As vice president, Biden has continued to oppose the legalization of marijuana, but he has spoken in favor of reducing enforcement of federal marijuana policies.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

Jeb Bush (R)

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush announced he is running for president on June 15, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Former Gov. Bush has a long history of supporting the war on drugs and opposing the legalization of marijuana for any purpose. He and his wife, Columba, are on the advisory board of the Drug Free America Foundation, a radical anti-marijuana organization with a history of opposing efforts to legalize marijuana for any purpose.

At the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, he said he supports states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies and that the federal government should not interfere in their decisions.

Dr. Ben Carson.
Dr. Ben Carson.

Ben Carson (R)

Dr. Ben Carson announced he is running for president on May 3, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Dr. Carson has expressed some support for allowing the use of medical marijuana, but he has been highly critical of legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use, citing the thoroughly debunked “gateway drug” theory.

Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.
Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore.

Jim Gilmore (R)

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore announced he is running for president on July 7, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Former Gov. Gilmore opposes the legalization of marijuana for any purpose. In 2000, he signed onto a National Governors Association policy plank that urged the federal government to increase funding for the War on Drugs and declared legalization is “not a viable alternative, either as a philosophy or as a practical reality.” 

Florida Senator Marco Rubio.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

Marco Rubio (R)

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida announced he is running for president on April 13, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Sen. Rubio has expressed some support for allowing the use of non-psychoactive forms of medical marijuana, but he is staunchly opposed to the legalization of marijuana for adult use.

He has equivocated in his support for letting states establish their own marijuana. In April 2015, he said he believes federal prohibition laws should be enforced in states that have repealed state prohibition laws.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee.

Mike Huckabee (R)

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee announced he is running for president on May 5, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Former Gov. Huckabee is opposed the legalization of marijuana for any purpose, including medical use.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Scott Walker (R)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker announced he is running for president on July 13, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Gov. Walker is opposed to legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana because he thinks it is a “gateway” drug.

He signed a very limited medical marijuana bill into law that allows children to use certain forms of marijuana that have exceptionally low levels of THC.

He has met with Gov. Hickenlooper of Colorado to discuss the effects of that state’s law allowing the use of marijuana by adults.

It is unclear whether Gov. Walker supports states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies. In April 2015, a spokesperson for Gov. Walker stated that the governor believes federal laws should be enforced, but that states are the “best place to handle this issue.”

South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham.
South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham.

Lindsey Graham (R)

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina announced he is running for president on June 1, 2015.

Where does he stand?

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Sen. Graham supports legal access to medical marijuana, but he is opposed to legalizing marijuana for adult use.

He has not taken a strong position on states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies. He voted against legislation intended to prevent the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana laws, but he attempted (unsuccessfully) to switch his vote afterward.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

Bobby Jindal (R)

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal announced he is running for president on June 24, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Gov. Jindal has expressed support for limited medical marijuana programs, but he opposes the legalization of marijuana for adult use and does not support states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies.

As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, he voted against a measure intended to prevent the Justice Department from interfering in state medical marijuana laws in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

Ohio Governor John Kasich.
Ohio Governor John Kasich.

John Kasich (R)

Ohio Gov. John Kasich announced he is running for president on July 21, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Gov. Kasich is “totally opposed” to marijuana legalization, including the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

He believes states should “probably” have the right to establish their own marijuana policies and would not challenge state laws regulating marijuana for medical or adult use.

Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.
Former Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley.

Martin O’Malley (D)

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley announced he is running for president on May 30, 2015.

Where doe he stand?

As governor of Maryland, O’Malley repeatedly spoke out against the use of marijuana for any purpose, including medical marijuana.

Despite his personal opposition, he signed bills into law in 2014 that decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and established a workable medical marijuana program.

Recently, O’Malley said that, as president, he would support efforts to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, alongside cocaine and methamphetamine.

Former New York Governor George Pataki.
Former New York Governor George Pataki.

George Pataki (R)

Former New York Gov. George Pataki announced he is running for president on May 28, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Former Gov. Pataki is not in favor of legalizing marijuana for any purpose, including medical use. He has said that he supports states’ rights to set their own marijuana policies without interference from the federal government.

Entrepreneur Donald Trump.
Entrepreneur Donald Trump.

Donald Trump (R)

Businessman and television personality Donald Trump announced he is running for president on June 16, 2015.

Where does he stand?

In 1990, Trump said he favored legalizing all drugs, but more recently he has said he opposes legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use.

He supports legal access to medical marijuana, and he has indicated support for letting states set their own marijuana policies.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz (R)

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas announced he is running for president on March 23, 2015.

Where does he stand?

At the 2015 Conservative Political Action Conference, Sen. Cruz said he is opposed to the legalization of marijuana for adult use, but he believes states should have the right to establish their own marijuana policies.

Previously, the senator had criticized the Obama administration for not enforcing federal marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington after voters in those states adopted laws that regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.

Former executive Carly Fiorina.
Former executive Carly Fiorina.

Carly Fiorina (R)

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina announced she is running for president on May 4, 2015.

Where does she stand?

Fiorina does not support the legalization of marijuana for any purpose, including medical use. She recently expressed support for decriminalization.

She has expressed support for the rights of voters to establish their own state marijuana policies.

Former New York Senator and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Former New York Senator and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Hillary Clinton (D)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced she is running for president on April 12, 2015.

Where does she stand?

Clinton has expressed a willingness to support more research into the potential medical benefits of marijuana.

When asked about the legalization laws approved in Colorado and Washington, she said “states are the laboratories of democracy” and that she wants to see what happens in those states prior to taking a position in support or opposition to such laws.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Rick Perry (R)

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he is running for president on June 4, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Gov. Perry opposes the legalization of marijuana, but he has voiced support for reducing penalties for marijuana possession. He has repeatedly expressed support for states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders (D)

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont announced he is running for president on April 30, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Sen. Sanders supports the legalization of medical marijuana, and he has been critical of the war on drugs, particularly with regard to how it has been enforced.

He has stated he has concerns about regulating marijuana for adult use, which stem from his concerns about other illegal drugs.

Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.
Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.

Lincoln Chafee (D)

Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced he is running for president on June 3, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Former Gov. Chafee has expressed a willingness to explore the potential benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana, but he wants to wait and see what happens in states that have adopted such laws.

As governor, he signed Rhode Island’s marijuana decriminalization bill into law in 2013.

Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb.
Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb.

Jim Webb (D)

Former U.S. Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia announced he is running for president on July 2, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Former Sen. Webb introduced legislation to overhaul the criminal justice system, and he has been an outspoken opponent of the war on drugs. He has expressed support for the decriminalization of marijuana.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.

Rand Paul (R)

U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky announced he is running for president on April 7, 2015.

Where does he stand?

Sen. Paul has consistently supported states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies, and he has been a vocal supporter of decriminalizing or reducing criminal penalties for those arrested for marijuana possession.

He is a sponsor of the CARERS Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow states to set their own policies regarding the legalization of medical marijuana without interference from the federal government.

He is also the co-sponsor of a bill that would allow marijuana-related businesses to access the banking system. In addition, Sen. Paul has been vocal on decriminalization or reducing criminal penalties for those arrested for the use of marijuana.



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