Marijuana was on the minds of the moderators of three separate U.S. Senate election debates in someday.
Incumbent senators and their challengers in Colorado, South Carolina and Texas had been all pressed to share their hashish coverage views on Friday.
Right here’s what the candidates mentioned:
Voters in Colorado made their state the primary to legalize marijuana by passing a poll initiative in 2012, however that was removed from the top of the hashish debate there. Now, senators and would-be senators are being pressed to speak about what they’ll do to defend their state’s legislation from federal intervention.
At their debate on Friday, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and his challenger, former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) had been requested in the event that they assist legalization of marijuana on the federal degree.
“I’ve labored arduous to make this battle go away, to permit states’ legalization to happen,” Gardner replied. “Sure, the reply is sure. Gov. Hickenlooper truly vetoed marijuana laws.”
Hickenlooper, who first endorsed legalization throughout the course of his unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination final yr, mentioned, “Sure, we now have to decriminalize it on the federal degree, completely.”
— John Hickenlooper (@Hickenlooper) October 10, 2020
Gardner is appropriate that Hickenlooper vetoed a number of hashish reform payments in his final yr in workplace as governor, together with proposals so as to add autism as a medical marijuana qualifying situation, to extend flexibility for investments within the hashish trade and to permit dispensaries to function tasting rooms. In 2012, he unsuccessfully campaigned in opposition to the state’s marijuana legalization poll referendum however then went on to implement it after voters permitted the measure.
Gardner, for his half, is one in every of a handful of GOP senators who’ve helped to steer the cost for hashish reform on Capitol Hill. He filed laws to respect state legalization legal guidelines, which President Trump endorsed, and in addition backs different proposals corresponding to a invoice to extend marijuana companies’ entry to banks. That mentioned, he has not been in a position to persuade the management of his celebration to advance any of these measures regardless of repeatedly expressing hope that he would be able to do so before the election.
The Colorado Democratic Occasion isn’t impressed with Gardner’s efforts, saying on Friday that he’s “all stem and no bud” on the difficulty.
On marijuana, Cory Gardner is all stem and no bud.
— Colorado Dems (@coloradodems) October 10, 2020
South Carolina continues to ban marijuana, however that didn’t cease Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) from being requested whether or not he helps adjustments to federal hashish legal guidelines in a debate discussion board on Friday.
“No ma’am, I don’t,” he replied. “I’ve been a prosecutor, protection lawyer and a choose. Marijuana is usually a very harmful drug, notably for younger individuals.”
That mentioned, Graham added that he does “assist medical marijuana.”
“I’m satisfied that there are medical functions related to marijuana, and I’d be prepared to make that that exception.”
The moderator adopted up by saying that polls present most People assist hashish reform, to which the senator responded, “I’m within the 30 % that claims it’s not a good suggestion.”
“I’ve seen the consequences as a gateway drug to different issues,” he mentioned. “On the subject of medical marijuana, it is smart. On the subject of legalization, I’m not going to impose that on the individuals of South Carolina.”
Graham’s Democratic challenger, Jaime Harrison, was not requested about marijuana throughout the occasion, however has previously said he favors legalizing cannabis.
“I believe we should always legalize, regulate and tax marijuana like we do alcohol and tobacco,” he mentioned in July. “There’s merely no medical cause to lock individuals up over this subject. In essence, that is about frequent sense.”
As Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Graham hasn’t introduced any pending hashish laws up for hearings or votes in his panel, which handles legal justice points.
That mentioned, he has cosponsored a handful of reform bills in previous years. For instance, in 2016 he signed onto laws to guard medical marijuana states from federal interference and reschedule hashish, and in 2017 he cosponsored a invoice to take away CBD from the checklist of federally banned substances.
He has a combined document in the case of votes on hashish amendments.
In 2015, Graham voted in opposition to an Appropriations Committee modification that might have allowed the U.S. Division of Veterans Affairs to advocate medical hashish to sufferers; however the subsequent yr he reversed himself and supported an identical measure. Additionally in 2016, he backed an modification to forestall the Division of Justice from spending cash to intrude with state medical hashish legal guidelines.
Texas at present has a restricted medical hashish program, however the moderators of a Friday debate between Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and Democratic challenger MJ Hegar needed to know their positions on broader marijuana decriminalization.
“I believe earlier than we reply that query, we have to have some very complete analysis completed on the impact of marijuana, THC, the lively ingredient on the creating brains of kids,” Cornyn mentioned. “We all know that vaping amongst youngsters and utilizing issues like THC concentrates can have a dramatic impression on their psychological well being and on their bodily well being as effectively. So I believe earlier than we make these choices we have to we have to know what the information are.”
Hegar mentioned she backs decriminalization “for a number of causes.”
“I’ve a number of expertise with the consequences, the medicinal results,” she mentioned. “A number of navy veterans which have PTSD that may ease these signs by way of that. I don’t assist giving it to kids,” she mentioned. “I believe we should always regulate it like tobacco, and we should always profit from the taxes on it as effectively.”
Another excuse to finish prohibition, she mentioned, is “as a result of it has additionally led to a disproportionate impression to communities of shade, of the incarceration epidemic on this nation.”
The Democratic challenger ended by throwing a dig on the incumbent GOP senator, saying, “the personal personal prisons and detention facilities which are donating to his marketing campaign need it to remain that manner.”
— MJ Hegar (@mjhegar) October 10, 2020
Hegar mentioned in a Democratic primary debate earlier this year that the continuing ban on hashish “solely boosts cartel income.”
“I’m completely for legalizing marijuana. I believe we must be expunging the data of those that have been incarcerated for such. And I believe that we now have a mass incarceration drawback, not simply in marijuana however on this planet,” she mentioned on the time. “I imply, we’re one of many high incarcerated nations on this planet and that’s not one thing that I’m very pleased with, I don’t learn about you.”
Cornyn, for his half, mentioned final yr that he’s open to holding bipartisan conversations about a cannabis research bill and acknowledged that the ongoing marijuana banking problems arising from the state-federal policy conflict pose “an actual menace,” he’s decidedly in opposition to legalization.
Cornyn additionally mentioned that claims in regards to the therapeutic potential of hashish remind him of decades-old tobacco industry advertisements asserting that the product had medical advantages.
He additionally co-chaired a listening to that make clear how the restrictive federal classification of marijuana impedes research.
In any case, the truth that marijuana was introduced up in debates for 3 separate high-profile U.S. Senate races in someday exhibits how hashish points are more and more on the minds of the general public and of reporters who cowl politics.
Picture courtesy of Democracy Chronicles.