This may not come as a huge surprise to some that American voters are not divided and have similar outlooks on medical marijuana than gun control, immigration and taxes, even if presidential candidates keep blowing smoke.
Market Watch reports that roughly 90% of Americans — 81% of Republicans and 94% of Democrats — fully back the legal use of medical marijuana, according to a Quinnipiac University poll of 1,500 voters published on Monday. To compare, 55% of Americans believe that laws regulating the sale of firearms should be more stern, 34% believe immigration to the U.S. should be decreased and 57% say their taxes are way too high, according to the most recent Gallup polls.
In spite of the solid polling numbers, medical marijuana legalization is a topic seldom to come up in the general election. Most candidates have more control over the conversation with fewer competitors, says Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, a nonprofit organization.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who has won enough delegates to confirm her position as the party‘s nomination, has maintained her stance that legalizing states are “laboratories” but extensive research is necessary for widespread legalization. Donald Trump, the presumptive presidential nominee for the Republican party, has yet to strengthen his policy viewpoint on legalization, but in a February interview with Bill O’Reilly, he mentioned that he was in favor of medical marijuana and as for overall legalization, “in some ways it’s good, and in other ways, it’s bad.”
Clinton and Trump may be coerced into talking about marijuana, however, if Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, who is also the former chief executive of marijuana company Cannabis Sativa Inc., is permitted to debate in the general election, St. Pierre says. “If he is on stage, he is going to bring up the need to legalize marijuana in the United States,” St. Pierre says. Johnson was polling at 10% in a recent survey by Morning Consult and needs to average 15% to be allowed in the debates.
In addition to the presidential election, a decent amount of states, including Florida, Maine and Nevada, will also be determining whether or not they will allow the legalization of medical or recreational marijuana through ballot initiatives in November. The overall popularity of marijuana on the state ballots could definitely help pull voters in a different direction, who originally haven’t had a strong support for any of the presidential candidates to the voting booths, St. Pierre says. “[Marijuana] should be a motivating influencer, particularly for youngish voters, who would otherwise not be inclined to come out,” he says.
A high support for medical marijuana legalization could serve as an efficient tool and strategy for either candidate if the race comes close, St. Pierre says, though using marijuana reform organizations as a way to rally new voters may not happen for another four or eight years.
(Photos Courtesy of hempbeach.com)