Presidential Primary Election Guide - 2008

       Although marijuana and drug reform have scarcely figured in this year¹s Presidential campaign debate,  several candidates have issued promising statements in favor of medical marijuana reform,    On the Democratic side, every candidate has indicated that he or she would end the DEA¹s medical marijuana raids in California.  In contrast, the leading Republicans are strongly opposed to medical marijuana, with the notable exceptions of  libertarian Ron Paul and maverick Tom Tancredo.

                  A handful of candidates deserve particular credit for voicing support forcomplete decriminalization, including Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Sen. Chris Dodd, Gov. Mike Gravel, and Rep. Paul.  Unfortunately, none have a serious chance of winning the nomination.  Other leading Democrats, including Clinton, Edwards, Obama, Richardon and Biden raised their hands in opposition to decriminalization at an MSNBC campaign debate in Philadelphia,

                  Following are positions of the candidates, with a grade on their overall support for marijuana reform plus quotations collected by Granite Staters for Medical Marijuana, who have been following the candidates in New Hampshire .



                  A+ Rep. Dennis Kucinich:  ³Compassion requires that doctors be able to prescribe whatever they need to make sure the patients get relief from pain,² (Aug 15th, Manchester).  The champion of progressives,  Kucinich boasts an excellent voting drug reform voting record and advocates full decriminalization of marijuana.  He is also one of the few candidates to support repeal of the 21-year drinking age.

                  A+ Sen. Chris Dodd.   ³I want to leave states to decide what the right thing to do is,² (May 12, Merrimack, NH).   Dodd has gone farther than most mainstream candidates in calling for outright decriminalization.   ³We¹re cluttering up our prisons,² he said on the Bill Maher show, ³So I would decriminalize.²  He also opposes mandatory minimums

                  A+ (ex-) Alaska Gov. Mike Gravel, running a fringe peace campaign, has staked out the most radical position, stating not only that he would ³legalize marijuana,² but also consider legalizing and regulating other drugs. Gravel has even stated that marijuana is safer than alcohol.

                  A- Gov. Bill Richardson:  ³We must protect the seriously illŠ Yes [I will end the federal raids.], with the proper safeguards² (May 7, Hooksett, N.H.).  Richardson deserves special credit for having marshaled a medical marijuana bill through the New Mexico state legislature in the face of difficult opposition and for having stood by it against federal attacks.  However, he has balked at endorsing decriminalization.

                  B-  Sen. Barack Obama:  ³I would not have the Justice Department prosecuting and raiding medical marijuana users. It¹s not a good use of our resources² (Aug. 21, Nashua, NH). Obama, admits to being a ³not proud² prior user of marijuana and cocaine, and has been cautious on drug issues. ³ I want to [permit medical marijuana] under strict guidelines² he has explained,  ³I want it prescribed in the same way that other painkillers or palliative drugs are prescribed.²  Obama supported a hemp bill in the Illinois legislature. Despite his reputation for straight talk, Obama has flip-flopped on MJ decriminalization. When campaigning for US Senate four years ago, Obama told Illinois college students that he favored decriminalization, but more recently his staff told the Washington Times that he did not.

                  B-  Sen. Hillary Clinton: ³Yes, I will [end the DEA raids]²  Clnton told an audience in Manchester, NH (July 13th).  Clinton has offered no further explanation of her views.   Elsewhere, Clinton  has criticized mandatory minimums and the crack/cocaine sentencing disparity , but has refused to endorse making the changes retroactive, unlike other leading Democrats.  She has endorsed needle exchange and ³harm reduction² in dealing with AIDS.   Like other leading Dems, she has rejected marijuana decrim. 

                  B- Sen. John Edwards: ³We will not be going in and raiding the use of marijuana for medical purposes in states that have legalized it,² (June 8th, Derry, NH).  Though  Edwards has admitted smoking marijuana in the past, he spoke out against decriminalization as sending the ³wrong message² at the MSNBC debate in Philadelphia.    Speaking at Grinnell College, Edwards criticized America¹s overly punitive punishment of drugs, including mandatory minimum sentences

                  C  Sen. Joe Biden.  ³Yes {I would the end raids],  he said in Canterbury, NH (May 12th).   ³But you know,² he added, ³There¹s got to be a better answer than marijuana.²  On the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Biden was responsible for  sponsoring much of the draconian anti-drug legislation to come out of the Congress during the Reagan-Bush-Clinton drug war years.




                  A+  Rep. Ron Paul  has been a vocal critic of the war on drugs.  In the Congress, he has supported medical marijuana, hemp, and decriminalization.    A libertarian, Paul sees the war on drugs as an example of excessive big government.    ³We need to repeal the whole war on drugs,² Paul told the audience of a PBS debate,  ³It isn¹t working.²

                  B  Rep. Tom Tancredo:   ³It¹s not about marijuana, it¹s about states¹ rightsŠThe federal government should stay the hell out of it,² (Aug 19th, Londonderry, NH). Tancredo¹s major campaign pitch is about illegal immigration.

                  F  Ex-Mayor Rudolf Giuliani:  ³The FDA says marijuana has no additive medical benefit of any kindŠI will keep it illegal.² (Aug 17th, Merrimack, NH) Mayor Giuliani distinguished himself by making New York City number one in the nation in  marijuana arrests and jailings.

                  F  Ex-Gov. Mitt Romney.  ³I don¹t want medicinal marijuana.  There are synthetic forms of marijuana that are available for people who need it. Don¹t open the door to medicinal marijuana²  (Jul 25, Bedford, NH).   Romney, a Mormon, has close connections with the prison-industrial complex.  His finance co-chair is ³tough love² advocate Mel Sembler, who founded the controversial youth drug treatment program know as Straight, Inc., which was sued for its cruel and abusive methods.

                  F  Ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee, ³I don¹t support the idea [of medical marijuana.] I think there are better ways to treat medical illnesses than the use of a drug that has really caused so many more people to have their lives injured² (Jun 4, Francestown, NH).

                  F  Sen. John McCain:   ³I believe that marijuana is a gateway drugŠI do not support the use of marijuana for medical purposes.²(August 11th, Milton NH).  The straight-talking Senator has wavered on the DEA raids, at one point suggesting that he would respect state¹s rights, but then retracting his statement.

                  F  Rep. Duncan Hunter: ³If you have a federal law, you have to enforce the law.² (Jun 5, Manchester, NH).   As  Congressman from San Diego, Hunter has consistently voted wrong on drug bills.

                  I   Ex-Sen. Fred Thompson : No known position.