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Clinton: It’s ‘Appropriate’ for States to Legalize Marijuana

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reiterated her support for letting states legalize marijuana without federal interference in an interview on Monday.

“I think that states are the laboratories of democracy, and four states have already taken action to legalize, and it will be important that other states and the federal government take account of how that’s being done, what we learn from what they’re doing,” said Clinton, a former secretary of state, U.S. senator and first lady, in an interview with Boston’s WBZ radio. “I think that the states moving forward is appropriate and I think the federal government has to move to make this more available for research that they can then distribute to interested people across our country.”

Clinton’s chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, also supports letting states set their own marijuana laws but has gone even further to say that he would personally vote for legalization if it were on the ballot.

In the radio interview Clinton also called for reclassifying marijuana out of its current status under Schedule I, the most restrictive category, which is supposed to be reserved for substances with no medical value.

“I do think on the federal level we need to remove marijuana from the Schedule I of drugs, move it to Schedule II, which will permit it to be the basis for medical research because it’s important that we learn as much as possible,” she said. “And since it was a Schedule I drug we haven’t done that research. A lot of experts in the field are telling me we’ve got to learn a lot more.”

Sanders, for his part, supports removing marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act altogether and has introduced legislation to do so.

In October, Clinton told a Denver TV station that it is “important that states like Colorado lead the way, so that we can learn what works and what doesn’t work. And I would certainly not want the federal government to interfere with the legal decision made by the people of Colorado, and enforced by your elected officials, as to how you should be conducting this business that you have approved. So, no, I want to give you the space and I want other states to learn from you, what works and what doesn’t work.”

In an earlier interview she said, “The feds should be attuned to the way marijuana is still used as a gateway drug and how the drug cartels from Latin America use marijuana to get footholds in states, so there can’t be a total absence of law enforcement.”

Fellow Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley, a former Maryland governor who trails far behind Clinton and Sanders in the polls, also supports rescheduling marijuana and letting states implement their own laws without federal interference.

Most candidates in the race for the Republican presidential nomination have also said they think marijuana is an issue for states to decide, with the notable exceptions of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who say they would enforce federal laws even in states that have voted to end prohibition.

The Iowa Caucuses, the first official contests of the 2016 presidential cycle, are on Monday, February 1.

See Marijuana.com’s comprehensive candidate tracker to see what else Clinton, Sanders and other presidential contenders have said about cannabis issues.

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