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2016 Contender Huckabee Says Let States Legalize Marijuana

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In a reversal from his last campaign for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee now says he is not only open to medical marijuana, but believes states should be able to legalize marijuana for recreational use without federal interference.

“The best way to determine whether this is good public policy is to do what the founders envisioned, and that’s let states become laboratories of democracy,” Huckabee said in an interview published on Saturday by KCCI-TV in Des Moines (about 17:45 in to the linked video). “I’m willing to let states operate under the 10th Amendment and I’m willing for the states, if they think that marijuana and the legalization of it is a great thing, I’m willing for them to experiment and find out.”

He added that he personally opposes legalization as a policy, however.

“I think we need to recognize, marijuana has never made anybody a better citizen,” Huckabee said “Do we really think that marijuana is something we want to encourage people to have greater access to? Does it make you a better worker? Does it make you a better mom or dad?”

When it comes to medical cannabis, however, the former Baptist pastor is more open.

“If your doctor prescribes certain uses of it, then I’m open to that,” he said. “That’s not the use of marijuana just so a person can get stoned. That’s so that a doctor, believing that that particular prescription would help a patient, whether it’s with chronic pain or a particular disease… I’m open to that.”

The comments represent an evolution in Huckabee’s views since the 2008 Republican primary contest. Then, he said that if elected he wouldn’t even stop the DEA from raiding and arresting patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.

“I’m going to leave it up to the DEA whether they feel like there is a person who is being arrested because they are suffering from AIDS or because they really are doing something to significantly violate drug laws,” he said, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. “I think there are better ways to treat medical illnesses than the use of a drug that has really caused so many more people to have their lives injured than it has to necessarily have their lives helped.”

Huckabee’s change in position is representative of the evolution the marijuana policy reform debate has undergone across the political spectrum in recent years, as polls show growing voter support and a growing number of states enact reforms. With just a handful of exceptions, supporting the right of states to enact their own marijuana laws without federal interference has become the default position of major candidates in both parties.

Click here to see what else Mike Huckabee and other presidential candidates have said about marijuana policy.

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