While it was predicted that the presidential candidates would be forced to speak out in regard to marijuana reform during Wednesday night’s Republican debate, it was somewhat disheartening, yet not altogether surprising, to watch the issue downplayed in true GOP fashion.
Despite this clash of the pachyderm being scheduled in Colorado, where marijuana has been legal for nearly two years, none of the candidates other than Ohio Governor John Kasich were asked about their position on the legalization of marijuana or the continuing challenges faced by the cannabis industry due to conflicting federal and state law.
When Moderator Carl Quintanilla hit on the topic of legalization, asking Kasich to offer some insight on whether he believes marijuana could be an economic powerhouse to the entire United States as it has been for the state of Colorado, the Ohio governor simply replied that he was not in favor of legalization because he is afraid it sends mixed signals to kids about drugs.
“I’ve spent years of my administration to do a whole sort of thing to rein in the problem of overdoses,” Kasich said.
Former Republican campaign advisor Roger Stone, apparently unimpressed with Kasich’s response, took to his Twitter account to call the governor a hypocrite on issue.
Hypocrisy ? I fired John Kasich from the 1976 Reagan Campaign … For selling pot to other field men
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) October 29, 2015
Oddly enough, Kasich may soon get some hands-on experience with what it is like to lead a state with a legal marijuana industry. Ohio is set to vote on the issue next week in the general election, which could challenge the prohibitionary philosophies of the Republican governor. After all, if the majority votes “Yes on Issue 3” and “No on Issue 2,” residents will soon be allowed to cultivate a significant amount of weed at home, as well as purchase it down at the local pot shop in a manner similar to beer.
The Republican debate was supposed to be the biggest political event of the evening until Bernie Sanders stole their thunder by announcing, just hours before delivering a speech in front of students at George Mason University, his plan to eliminate the cannabis plant from the DEA’s controlled substances list.
“In my view, the time is long overdue for us to remove the federal prohibition on marijuana,” Sanders said. “In my view, states should have the right to regulate marijuana the same way that state and local laws now govern the sale of alcohol and tobacco.”
Earlier this month, during the first Democratic debate, Sanders pledged his allegiance to marijuana reform by saying that he would support an initiative to legalize weed in Nevada. One week later, he told Jimmy Kimmel that he was “not unfavorably disposed to moving toward the legalization of marijuana.”
Therefore, tremendous reforms to national marijuana policy could be on the horizon if Sanders can beat Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination and then get the rest of the nation on his side.
It is painfully obvious that the Republicans are going to continue sandbagging the issue.