Among those who've made such statements is presumed Republican front-runner Jeb Bush.
Now, recently announced candidate Carly Fiorina, a darling of conservative media outlets such as Fox News, has gone one step further, announcing, “I would not, as president of the United States, enforce federal law in Colorado, where Colorado voters have said they want to legalize marijuana."
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These comments were made this past Thursday, May 7, during an extended sit-down with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, among the most important media organizations in Iowa, whose caucuses are a key early test for presidential candidates.
Fiorina, a former executive with AT&T and Hewlett-Packard who fell short in a 2010 race for a U.S. senate seat in California, is hardly a pot booster. Like Bush and other candidates, she has accompanied comments about state's rights and pot with critical takes on cannabis in general.
“I do not think they should legalize marijuana,” she told the Register. “If you look at a place like Colorado, we’ve sent the message that pot is just no big deal. And it’s just not true.
"I remember being a cancer patient, and my doctors asking me whether I wanted access to medicinal marijuana, and my answer was ‘no,'” she went on. “And my doctor said, ‘I’m really glad, because marijuana is now a chemically complex compound. We don’t understand it. We don’t know what’s in it. We don’t know how it interacts with other things.'"
This middle-ground approach seems intended to win support from those who see the War on Drugs as a tremendous waste of resources even as it avoids alienating right-wing voters with a personal antipathy toward marijuana.
Nonetheless, the Marijuana Majority's Tom Angell sees her comments in a positive light.
"It's quickly becoming a consensus position in both parties that states should be able to set their own marijuana laws without federal interference and harassment," Angell notes in an e-mail to Westword. "While it'd be great to have a president who personally supports legalization or acknowledges marijuana's medical benefits, what's most important is whether a candidate plans to spend federal resources overturning duly enacted state laws when they get into the Oval Office.
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"Thankfully, rapidly increasing voter support for reform is forcing most of the candidates to say the right things about respecting local marijuana policies."