Candidates evaluated on three criteria, including support for treatment and prevention for users as alternatives to incarceration, a true medical marijuana program based on scientific research, and opposition to legalized and commercialized marijuana for recreational use
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) updated its analysis and rating of every candidate’s position on a range of issues related to marijuana policy-not just legalization, but also whether candidates support a focus on prevention and treatment, and a scientific approach to medical cannabinoids and other marijuana-derived medications.
These updated ratings take into account recent statements made by candidates, including those made at yesterday’s Republican primary debate and by Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders.
“It’s important that the American people understand where the candidates stand on issues related to marijuana,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of SAM. “Unlike in 2012, there are critical issues that candidates need to be aware of, not the least of which is the creation of a new, massive Big Marijuana industry that is taking pages right out of Big Tobacco’s playbook. Our scorecard will keep the candidates accountable.”
SAM, a coalition of public health leaders from around the country, whose partners include most major medical groups, examined the entire field of Republicans and Democrats, and assigned a score to each based on a handful of policy and regulatory measures, including: opposition to marijuana legalization for recreational purposes, support of prevention, intervention, and treatment for marijuana use as an alternative to incarceration, and support for a regulated, FDA-approved approach to the legitimate medical use of marijuana components.
“The SAM scorecard is the first in-depth analysis of the 2016 field on these critical issues-not just a litmus test on marijuana legalization for recreational use,” said Jeff Zinsmeister, Executive Vice President of SAM. “We’re interested in promoting a comprehensive approach to marijuana that neither stigmatizes users nor opens the doors to a new multi-billion-dollar addictive industry.”
First among the field are candidates Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, and Ben Carson, for their opposition to legalization but openness to medical marijuana use under appropriate circumstances. Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders, despite their commendable concern over the incarceration of those convicted solely for personal possession of marijuana, come in last for their apparent sympathy with creating a new corporate marijuana industry on par with Big Tobacco.
Candidates in the middle of the pack include Hillary Clinton, whose proposed $10 billion plan to address substance abuse and mental illness is laudable, as well as her interest in approaching medical marijuana use carefully, but who unfortunately says she would allow Colorado’s failed “experiment” with legalized marijuana, including candy and gummy bears, to continue.
“We’re heartened by Secretary Clinton’s plan to tackle substance abuse, but marijuana is the elephant in the room that candidates can no longer ignore,” remarked Sabet.