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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

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Senior office: Will cannabis falter under Trump or Clinton?

Over the years, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have repeatedly said they have never tried marijuana, which is too hot a topic for the country. A dash of uncertainty (without any telltale funk) clouds an already raucous and circus-like election atmosphere, as up to 20 states look to legalize marijuana for recreational or medical use in the upcoming election. It remains unclear how the guarantees that the presidential circuit will not have a token will affect future Oval Office policy decisions involving the DEA, FBI, FDA, IRS and areas of scientific, law enforcement, banking and administrative work.

Their confessions mean that Clinton and Trump cannot empathize with the experiences of millions of citizens. Users turn to marijuana for several reasons: its sedative effects and its ability to often control pain and appetite. Other reasons people use include managing depression, increasing creativity, stopping seizures, helping with PTSD, and coping with negative emotions. The mild factor for using marijuana is also often one of the main reasons why citizens use it. These reasons are not something that Clinton or Trump have experienced or could relate to, so their understanding of the importance of marijuana is through information from researchers and white paper writers, which is by no means a complete understanding.

When promoting her book “Hard Choices” at a live town hall meeting with CNN in 2014, Clinton confessed that she has never smoked marijuana when asked if she would try marijuana if it was legal, and told moderator Christiane Amanpour: “I didn’t do it when I was young, I’m not going to start it now.”

Clinton’s history comes with the fascinating twist of her husband, Bill Clinton, and his 1992 admission that he “didn’t inhale” when he tried marijuana as a young Rhodes scientist. At the time, the confession was both funny and confusing, as most users at the time tended to inhale. However, this “don’t inhale” rule caused him great shame because he was the first president to admit anything about marijuana use. It is not known whether Melania Trump has ever tried marijuana, but she has never been in the political sphere until now. The Clintons remain a political power couple that has been in the spotlight for decades. For every marriage there are certainly differences in choices and actions. Bill Clinton has consistently seemed to be the more “cut loose” type than Hillary throughout their history.

Much has been made of the fact that Trump has mentioned many times that he has never tried drugs. When his book “The America We Deserve” was published in 2000, it had a telling quote: “I’ve never taken drugs, never had a glass of alcohol. Never had a cigarette, never had a cup of coffee.”

Family history plays a big part in Trump’s choices, as his older brother (aged 8), Freddy, died of alcoholism in 1981 at the age of 43. (Freddy had often told Donald not to drink or smoke all his life.) When asked earlier this year by FOX News, “Have you ever smoked weed?” Trump replied, “I haven’t. I would tell you 100 percent because everyone seems to admit it. Almost like, it’s almost like, “Hey, it’s a sign.” No, I haven’t smoked a cigarette either.” It’s almost puritanical that Trump puts coffee in the same category as nicotine and cannabis.

On policy issues related to marijuana, Hillary Clinton seems to be sticking to an approach that is cautious and shows a history of waiting. On MSNBC this year, she said she might go for a federal easing through medical research. That would work by changing the drug categorization to Schedule 2 of the stricter Schedule 1. To a live CNN primary debate last year, she stated she wasn’t ready to elaborate her stance on recreational marijuana use; this lack of attitude reflects most potential candidates, regardless of party membership.

Even in 2014, Hillary Clinton was not ready to approve decriminalization, but was open to its use by medical marijuana users, reportedly saying, “I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. I don’t think we’ve done enough research yet.” This approach was in step with many left-wing politicians at the time, who saw the rapid rise in revenue and cannabis tourism dollars for states like Colorado and Washington, which were able to legally sell marijuana, and demand appeared to be high.

Trump’s stance on marijuana policy is hard to gauge because it’s evolved, and he’s been light on details throughout the campaign. He holds the idea that the US is losing the war on drugs, and that legalization would be a way to win, which is consistent with his brand as a businessman and winner. While he went public on the record with the… Sarasota Herald-Tribune by saying that in 1990 he was all for a legalization and tax approach to “take the profits away from these drug czars” that was Trump who remarked as a brash businessman personality. As a candidate for public office, Trump now seems to have trouble committing cannabis policy, aside from a comment that read: GQ Magazine that marijuana for medical purposes is “absolutely fine”.

One thing remains clear: whoever ends up in the Oval Office must tackle the legislative issues posed by the booming cannabis market.

Photo credits: AP Photo/Matt Rourke (left), AP Photo/Andrew Harnik (right)

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