By Oscar Pascual |
sen. Rand Paul announced in a speech in Louisville Tuesday that he is running for president, effectively making him the only presidential candidate to consider marijuana law reform a major campaign theme.
Paul has supported legislation in the past to decriminalize marijuana, most recently by helping to introduce the CARERS Act in the Senate that would legalize medical marijuana at the federal level.
The hill points to the rest of Paul’s weed history, including support for industrial hemp production and research, and criticism of marijuana-related prison sentences, which he calls “ridiculous.”
Paul’s stance on marijuana reform has caught the attention of cannabis advocates and will likely help him gain more support for his 2016 bid.
“His message about marijuana reform will be very appealing to young people and communities of color,” Bill Piper, director of national affairs at the Drug Policy Alliance, said in an interview with the hill. “It will definitely push Hillary Clinton, or whoever is the Democratic nominee, in that direction because they will worry about losing their base.”
In fact, Paul was critical of fellow presidential hopeful Jeb Bush and his hypocrisy earlier this year when a… Boston Globe profile revealed Bush’s heavy marijuana use as a student.
“This is a man who now admits that he has smoked marijuana, but he wants to put people in jail who do,” Paul said. the hill earlier this year. “I think that’s the real hypocrisy that people on our side, including many people who made mistakes growing up, admit their mistakes, but now still want to put people in jail for it.”
Even though Paul runs on a pro pot platform, it doesn’t necessarily make him the ideal candidate, as he also supports a massive $190 billion increase in defense spending while opposing abortion rights and same-sex marriages.
Anyway, the fact that Paul has included cannabis in his platform has given the legalization debate more credibility, proponents say.
“Marijuana has clearly become a problem at the forefront of mainstream American politics,” Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell said in an interview with the hill. “The fact that Rand Paul is speaking out about this, and that he is being praised and not criticized for it, is an example for other politicians.”
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