Washington, Nov. 9 – Hillary Clinton announced support for medical research of marijuana. She is the latest of the three Democratic presidential hopefuls to do so.
While Clinton had previously declined to endorse legalized medical or recreational marijuana at the federal level, on Saturday she detailed a proposal to increase research of medical marijuana.
Clinton said she supports removing marijuana from the schedule 1 list, which includes a group of drugs that are prohibited from federally-sponsored research. Currently, marijuana, as a schedule 1 drug, is considered to be among the federal Drug Enforcement Agency’s most dangerous drugs.
“We haven’t done research, why? Because it’s considered a schedule 1 drug,” Clinton said during a town hall meeting at Claflin University in South Carolina. “I’d like to move it from schedule 1 to schedule 2.”
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, schedule 1 drugs are “defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule 1 drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Clinton’s proposal also allows researchers to obtain marijuana through licensed suppliers in states where medical marijuana is legal.
“I do support the use of medical marijuana,” Clinton said. “And I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we’re going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief.”
Just one week earlier, Clinton’s rival Bernie Sanders called for removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act entirely and not listing marijuana among DEA regulated substances at all. In addition to allowing for medical research for issues such as epilepsy, Sanders’ proposal also would allow states to legalize recreational marijuana.
Unlike Sanders’ plan, Clinton’s proposal would not save marijuana users and businesses from facing federal penalties for using and selling the drug. Therefore, Sanders said Clinton’s proposal does not go far enough.
Clinton’s “approach ignored the major issue,” Sanders said. “Secretary Clinton would classify marijuana in the same category as cocaine and continue to make marijuana a federally regulated substance.”
“If we are serious about criminal justice reform and preventing many thousands of lives from being impacted because of criminal convictions for marijuana possession, we must remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and allow states the right to go forward, if they choose, to legalize marijuana without federal legal impediments,” he added.
Clinton’s other presidential contender, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, proposed rescheduling marijuana as a schedule 2 substance earlier this year as part of his criminal justice reform plan.
The Republican candidates do not have a unified position. Lindsey Graham, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump support at least some access to medical marijuana but oppose recreational use, according to the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). Trump supports states’ rights to set their own marijuana policies with regard to recreational use. While Graham has not taken a strong position on states’ rights, Jindal and Rubio do not support states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies.
Rand Paul, the highest ranked Republican by MPP, is a vocal supporter of reducing criminal penalties for those arrested for marijuana possession. In addition, he has consistently supported stats’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies.
Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, John Kasich and George Pataki oppose the legalization of marijuana for any purpose. However, they have said they support states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies.
Ben Carson, Chris Christie and Rick Santorum take a stricter position, all saying they would enforce federal marijuana laws in states that have made it legal.
This is a big issue in Iowa, where Iowans for Medical Cannabis has been petitioning Iowa lawmakers for safe and legal access to medical cannabis when it is medically appropriate to reduce the suffering of Iowans living with debilitating chronic conditions. In addition, they are seeking recognition of its medicinal benefits and allowance for academic and medical research.