Hillary Clinton is open to trying marijuana legalization at the state level, although she thinks more research is necessary on the benefits of medical marijuana. Asked about her position in marijuana, Clinton said during a CNN “Town Hall” Tuesday night that “states are the laboratories of democracy” and that “I want to wait and see what the evidence is” in the two states that have already legalized recreational marijuana. She expressed seemingly greater hesitation on medical marijuana, however, saying, “At the risk of committing radical candor, I have to say, 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 although I think for people who are in extreme medical conditions and have anecdotal evidence that it works, there should be availability under appropriate circumstances,” she continued. She made reference to the two states that have passed recreational marijuana, but not the more than 20 that already have medical marijuana laws. Nor was she asked about federal suppression of marijuana research.
Leading up to Clinton’s 2008 presidential run, she said in 2007 she opposed decriminalizing marijuana, but made similar comments about the need for more research on its medical benefits. “We ought to find out, what are the elements that claim to be existing in marijuana that might help people who are suffering from cancer and nausea related to treatment,” she said. She pointed out that many painkillers come from poppies, saying, “if there’s something that could be made available and legal, we should look at it.” She also reportedly told a questioner at one campaign event that she would end federal raids against medical marijuana dispensaries.
But she said in 2012 she does not believe drug legalization is the answer to the War on Drugs, and that the sorts of “ruthless” people that profit from the international drug trade will just “figure out another way” to make money, such as kidnapping or extortion. “I respect those in the region who believe strongly that [U.S. legalization] would end the problem,” she said at a forum. “I am not convinced of that, speaking personally.” In 2011, she told a Mexican news outlet she did not think legalizing drugs “will work” to curb black market violence because “there’s too much money in it.”
Clinton’s seeming greater hesitation on medical marijuana than recreational stands in contrast to the position of an increasing number of politicians, who have softened their position on medical marijuana as they have been forced to take a position on recreational legalization.