The first presidential debate is set to take place tomorrow at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York between Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton. It is expected to be one of the most watched debates in decades. I know I will have my popcorn ready, and not because of the back and forth that some may be expecting.
I largely expect both candidates to get wiffle ball questions lobbed at them, and for the candidates to repeat the same tired lines that they have been saying for months. There may be a could of heated exchanges, but for the most part I expect it to be rather boring. What I want to see happen is the candidates to be asked about marijuana reform.
The topics being covered are, ‘America’s Direction, Achieving Prosperity and Securing America.’ Considering how big of a presence marijuana will have in politics and industry in the future, how much marijuana can help move America forward, and how much the War on Drugs impacts foreign policy and American security, a question about marijuana seems fitting. I can’t think of too many other questions that would touch on so many different areas, and that is as popular a topic as marijuana right now.
It would have been nice to see one or both of the third party candidates included in the debates. Both Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are long time marijuana reform supporters. I would have expected either one of them to cover marijuana policy had they been included in the debates, whether it was asked about or not. Unless Trump or Clinton is directly asked about marijuana policy, I don’t expect them to touch on it at all, as both candidates seem to give generic (and sometimes conflicting) comments on marijuana policy, and move on with the conversation as soon as possible.
If marijuana comes up, I hope that it’s more pointed than just ‘do you support marijuana reform?’ It would be cool to see some substance to the question. There are five states voting on marijuana legalization in November (California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine), some of which being close in presidential election polls.
The Nation came up with debate questions that dealt specifically with Arizona’s legalization initiative, Proposition 205. They are:
1. Both of you have campaigned in Arizona, where polls suggest the presidential race is close. On the same November 8 ballot where voters will be asked to choose between your candidacies, they will also be asked whether they would like to legalize marijuana and establish a strictly regulated system for its cultivation, manufacturing, testing, transportation and sale. By this point, both of you should be well aware of the arguments for and against legalizing marijuana. If you were voting in Arizona, how would you cast your ballots: “yes” for legalization or “no” for continued prohibition.
2. If either or both of the candidates answer “no,” or try to waffle on the issue, read the statement from the retired DEA agents and then ask: How do you respond to the arguments of people with experience, such as Agents Capasso and Selander, who write that prohibition doesn’t keep marijuana off our streets or decrease use but that it does does result in billions of dollars in profits flowing to drug cartels? Aren’t there sound domestic and foreign-policy arguments for legalization?
These questions could easily be modified to include any of the other states voting on legalization. Arizona is particularly interesting because the candidates need to win Arizona, and they both would give a much more solid answer than if it were about a less contested state’s initiative. The first presidential debate will be aired live at 9 PM EST on all major cable and broadcast networks in addition to being streamed live on Facebook. Will marijuana policy come up? I guess we will have to wait and see, but it definitely should!
image via CommonDreams.org