Clinton Calls for Liberalizing Marijuana Laws

The Democratic front-runner still isn’t going as far on the issue as her top challenger.

Ron Sachs/Zuma; <a href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-162873131/stock-photo-a-full-frame-of-marijuana-foliage-background-wallpaper.html?src=g78NzZhZxqenXOJ337pJAg-1-9">Opra</a>/Shutterstock; illustration by Patrick Caldwell

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


Hillary Clinton moved ever so very slightly to the left on marijuana legalization over the weekend, after generally ducking the issue so far in her presidential campaign. During a town hall in South Carolina, the Democratic front-runner said that she’s in favor of changing the way the federal government regulates weed in order to allow researchers to explore the benefits of medical usage.

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug, alongside substances like heroin*, which means the government sees no legitimate uses for it. Clinton said that, as president, she’d reclassify marijuana to Schedule 2, the category for drugs like prescription painkillers. It would remain an illegal drug for everyday consumption but would be eligible for possible medical uses.

Clinton stopped short of the position taken by her leading Democratic opponent, Bernie Sanders. The Vermont senator called it “absurd” last month that the feds treat marijuana the same way they do drugs like heroin, and pointed to the fact that anti-marijuana laws are enforced far more frequently against African Americans than against white users. Last week, Sanders introduced a bill in the Senate that would end the federal ban on marijuana. States could still ban recreational use under Sanders’ proposal, but states like Colorado and Washington that have already legalized the drug would no longer have to fear federal intervention.

Marijuana legalization is quickly becoming one of the top social causes among Democrats, with polls now showing over half of the country behind ending the prohibition. But Clinton has been tentative when discussing drug reform, responding to questions by saying that she’s keeping an eye on the state-level legalization experiments while still making up her mind on where she stands.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the classification of cocaine. It is a Schedule 2 drug, less strictly regulated than marijuana.

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate