Hillary Clinton has long been the favorite to be the next President of the United States, but while her race against Donald Trump has tightened recently, she’ll remain the favorite through election day, especially after the FBI announcement that she won’t be facing any charges from her ongoing email scandal. With a Clinton Administration very likely, it makes sense for cannabis law reformers to wonder how Clinton will handle federal marijuana policy.
Like many politicians, Clinton’s cannabis policy has evolved for the better, just as she has evolved on marriage equality and the Iraq War. As a majority of American voters now support legalization, particularly among millennials and Democrats generally, it is very likely that Clinton, if elected president, would move towards a more progressive policy on marijuana during her administration.
Secretary Clinton has a complicated history with criminal justice reform advocates as she once championed her husband’s unfortunate crime bill and opposed the decriminalization of cannabis during her 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama. However, there have been dramatic signs of improvement during Clinton’s current presidential run as she now supports medical cannabis; has maintained that states should be free to implement their own cannabis policies; and called for an end to the use of for-profit private prisons.
Secretary Clinton’s plan to reschedule cannabis down to Schedule II, from its ludicrous inclusion with other Schedule I substances like heroin, creates mixed feelings from the cannabis activist reform community. While it would be a symbolic victory for the United States government to legally recognize the medicinal benefits of cannabis, a Schedule II classification doesn’t fix the banking and tax problems facing the industry and many advocates are concerned it could potentially lead to a Big Pharma takeover of the nation’s medical cannabis system. De-scheduling cannabis from the list of federally controlled substances, treating marijuana the same as alcohol and tobacco, is the better tactic. Hopefully, Clinton can be convinced that simply ending federal cannabis prohibition, by de-scheduling cannabis, should replace rescheduling as her federal policy.
Bernie Sanders earned the support of many Drug War reformers during his insurgent Democratic primary challenge by first calling for the end to private prisons and introducing a bill to de-schedule cannabis. It appears that he has helped move Secretary Clinton towards a more progressive position on marijuana and it’ll be up to cannabis law reformers to put pressure on our Madame President, if she’s victorious, as well as Congress, to continue our momentum at the federal level until we can finally end the disastrous policy of cannabis prohibition.
Wikileaks has revealed that Clinton has ruminated on the marijuana policy advice of Congressman Earl Blumenauer, arguably our nation’s best legalization advocate in Congress. If Clinton would listen to Representative Blumenauer, and the base of her political party, then her federal cannabis policy will be a beneficial one for our nation.
At worst, I believe that we can expect a President Hillary Clinton to follow President Obama’s states’ rights policy. At best, we could finally see the United States government end the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition. Although, honestly, we’ll probably have to wait until her second term, and only after the progressive base of the party has worked extremely hard to convince, Clinton, and Congress, to catch up to the cannabis policy position of the majority of Americans.