A Republican candidate for president says he’s not personally a fan of legalizing marijuana, but would lean toward respecting state cannabis laws if elected instead of sending in the DEA to arrest growers, sellers and users who are acting in accordance with local policy.
“I would try to discourage the states from doing it,” Ohio Governor John Kasich told MLive.com. “Hopefully we’ll defeat it in Michigan and Ohio, but if states want to do it … I haven’t made a final decision, but I would be tempted to say I don’t think we can go and start disrupting what they’ve decided.”
An initiative to legalize marijuana in Ohio has qualified for this November’s ballot, but Kasich is opposed, calling it a “terrible idea.” Activists are also pushing to put legalization on next year’s ballots in Michigan and other states.
Kasich has made similar remarks in the past, for example telling radio host Hugh Hewitt in April that it is a “states’ rights issue. The people in those states have voted that way… I probably would not [enforce federal law in stated that have legalized marijuana]from the standpoint that the states have gone forward to prove that.”
By indicating he’d be inclined to respect state marijuana laws while remaining personally opposed to legalization, Kasich is in line with most other 2016 contenders, from both parties.
Thus far, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, both Republicans, are the only candidates who have explicitly stated that they would seek to enforce federal marijuana in laws in states that have legalized the drug.
But by seeming to hedge a little, Kasich’s lean toward respecting states’ rights is not as strong as others.
For example Republican Carly Fiorina has said, “I would not, as president of the United States, enforce federal law in Colorado where Colorado voters have said they want to legalize marijuana.”
And Rand Paul, also a Republican said he would “let states choose. And I don’t know what’ll happen, whether it’s going to end up being good or bad. But I would let the states choose because I believe in federalism and states’ rights.”
On the Democratic side, candidate Bernie Sanders said he will “watch very closely to see the pluses and minuses” of state legalization laws.
Hillary Clinton, also running for the Democratic nomination, has said that “states are the laboratories of democracy. We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is.”
Check out Marijuana.com’s full 2016 candidate overview for a comprehensive look at what the contenders have said about cannabis policy.