Hillary Clinton's Marijuana Views Signal Little Change
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) This summer has seen major figures weigh in on the topic of cannabis reform -- though Pope Francis promoted a significant anti-marijuana agenda , Hillary Clinton has weighed in on the issue in a manner more directly relevant to American politics.
As of mid June, Clinton announced her thoughts during a CNN interview and town hall with Christiane Amanpour. That said, any perceived "sea change" meant to be broadcast by Clinton's recent comments and her ongoing "metamorphosis" on the topic, is minor if nonexistent in a practical sense.
During the run up to the 2008 Presidential campaign, Clinton previously stated her opposition to decriminalization although leaving the door open for some kind of medical use . At the time, she also supposedly voiced muted support for ending federal raids in states where marijuana is legal.
Now however, as the issue has moved forward primarily driven by state voter sentiment, Clinton's views have clearly evolved although they do not appear to differ from any other established, major party platform position.
"At the risk of committing radical candor, I have to say I think we need to be very clear about marijuana use for medicinal purposes," she said during the CNN segment. "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."
As one reason for her hesitancy to go further, Clinton cited the lack of available research, including marijuana's interaction with other kinds of drugs. That said, this response also ignores a reality that is becoming harder to discount. Many patients not only find the drug is the only thing that really helps them, but often stop taking other medication as a result of marijuana's dramatic and overall positive effects.
It is not stretching the bounds of credulity to believe that Clinton's very new -- albeit still minimal -- openness to medical use at least has been motivated for reasons not unlike those of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), if not six months behind him. Reid abruptly changed his long-held views about medical marijuana at the beginning of the year after the success of a legalization ballot initiative in Nevada in 2013 . As he told the The Las Vegas Sun in January 2014, "If you'd asked me this question a dozen years ago, it would have been easy to answer. I would have said no, because [marijuana] leads to other stuff. But I can't say that anymore."
Recently expressed voter sentiment is also clearly at work here too. In June, not only did the entire Washington D.C. City Council move to expand medical access (the District has no Home Rule, and such issues in the past have stalled because of the oversight by the federal Congress), but New York and Florida also passed (albeit highly restrictive) medical cannabinoid usage laws via legislative compromise . This month, Washington State will also become the second recreational use market in the country.