It’s official, Donald Trump’s plus-one on the Republican ticket is Indiana Governor Mike Pence and no matter what side of the war on drugs you think Trump will land on – one thing is clear, Mike Pence is terrible for cannabis legalization.
Pence’s anti-cannabis view is not in step with his constituents, and it won’t be with the American people either.
Going back to at least 2012, a majority of Indianans support legalization. An October 2012 Howey/DePauw Indiana Battleground Poll revealed 54% favored decriminalization and 38% opposed. When the April 2013 Howey Politics Poll asked the same question, 56% favored and 37% opposed. However, Gov. Pence remains a steadfast adversary to Indiana’s marijuana movement.
This year, more than half, 58 percent, of Americans are polling in favor of legalization. But that doesn’t guarantee the GOP nominees will back up the will of the American people when it comes to legalization.
Trump enjoys flip-flopping on issues from nuclear proliferation to abortion, so there’s really no telling where he will stand on medical marijuana and legalization.
Many cannabis supporters hold onto the hope that he will be the Republican to finally support cannabis because of his love of money and business. For instance, marijuana is expected to become a $44 BILLION dollar a year business by the year 2020, according to a forecast from The Marijuana Business Factbook on CBS.
Here’s The Donald’s stance(s) on legalization:
- “In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. … Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should happen — right? Don’t we agree? I think so. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states.” Washington Post, October 29, 2015
- “I’d say [regulating marijuana] is bad. Medical marijuana is another thing, but I think it’s bad and I feel strongly about that. [Moderator: “What about the states’ right aspect of it?”] If they vote for it, they vote for it… But I think, medical marijuana, 100%.” C-SPAN, June 23, 2015
- “We’re losing badly the War on Drugs. You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take the profit away from these drug czars.” Miami Herald, April 14, 1990
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) agrees, Trump isn’t a complete failure when it comes to cannabis. They give him a ‘C+’, because he sometimes says that he is for states’ rights, and a businessman. Not to be pinned to his words, Trump and his campaign have shown they can and will defend Trump’s most recent position on any given issue. The most recent example is the Trump camp’s denial of Melania Trump’s speech plagiarizing parts of First Lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 speech. The Trump campaign then did a 180-degree turnaround, acknowledging that it indeed did happen – and then praised the mistake for making Melania’s speech the talk of the town.
Good news is Melania's speech got more publicity than any in the history of politics especially if you believe that all press is good press!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 20, 2016
Anti-Marijuana Pence in Indiana
Despite a majority of the state supporting the plant, Indiana continues to enforce some of the most severe punishments for marijuana in the nation — penalties for marijuana-related offenses range from about 1-6 years and $1,000 – $10,000 dollars. Albeit harsh, it’s still better than it was prior to 2013’s Indiana Criminal Code Revision. The revision to Indiana’s criminal code, House Bill 1006, was a reflection of the growing support for marijuana law reform.
Pence signed it into law when he first entered office but quickly vocalized his disdain for the reform at a press conference. “I think we need to focus on reducing crime, not reducing penalties,” said Pence.
In the lead-up to the 2012 Indiana gubernatorial elections, he clearly spoke out against cannabis at the Fort Wayne gubernatorial debate. On medical marijuana, Mike Pence called it a gateway drug, “I would not support the decriminalization of marijuana. I’ve seen too many people become involved with marijuana and get sidetracked. We need to get more serious about confronting the scourge of drugs.”
Trump is the king of adaptation, he and his VP pick will conform to the Republican National Committee’s stance.
Republicans Officially Shun Marijuana
The Republican National Committee’s 2016 official platform doesn’t reflect America’s shifting attitude. The term ‘marijuana’ is mentioned only once, under the subheading ‘Combatting Drug Abuse’:
“The progress made over the last three decades against drug abuse is eroding, whether for cultural reasons or for lack of national leadership. In many jurisdictions, marijuana is virtually legalized despite its illegality under federal law. At the other end of the drug spectrum, heroin use nearly doubled from 2003 to 2013, while deaths from heroin have quadrupled. All this highlights the continuing conflicts and contradictions in public attitudes and public policy toward illegal substances. Congress and a new administration should consider the long range implications of these trends for public health and safety and prepare to deal with the problematic consequences.”
Lumping together medical marijuana and opioids under one heading, the Republican National Committee is leaps and bounds behind the more progressive Democratic platform. As stated in a draft of their party platform:
“We believe that the states should be laboratories of democracy on the issue of marijuana, and those states that want to decriminalize marijuana should be able to do so. We support policies that will allow more research on marijuana, as well as reforming our laws to allow legal marijuana businesses to exist without uncertainty. And we recognize our current marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites, despite similar usage rates.”
By far, the most 420-friendly nominees belong to the Green and Libertarian parties. Gary Johnson is the only third-party candidate on the leadership board, currently polling at 13 percent, according to the latest CNN/ORC poll. Hillary Clinton has 42 percent, Donald Trump 37 percent.
What’s exciting about these polling numbers is if Gary Johnson holds steady at 15 percent, he could be invited on the debate stage with Clinton and Trump.
RELATED ARTICLE: Marijuana Policy Project has Endorsed Gary Johnson for President
The VP pick, the RNC platform, and rumors that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie could be tapped for Attorney General all point to the rolling back of any progress the marijuana movement has seen in the past decade. As Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie has single-handedly strangled his state’s medical marijuana program. It’s hard to prescribe, obtain, and dispense cannabis in The Garden State because of the anti-marijuana politician.
The combination of Pence and Christie atop of the Republican National Committee’s anti-marijuana platform will have Trump running far away from any support he once had for legalization and the cannabis industry.