The nation's largest marijuana policy organization, the Marijuana Policy Project, has launched a voter guide to the 2016 presidential race, detailing the candidates' positions on marijuana policy and assigning them grades based on where they stand.
The voter guide can be viewed online at http://mpp.org/president.
"Most Americans recognize that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and they think it should be made legal for adults," said MPP Communications Director Mason Tvert. "Voters should know which candidates support rolling back prohibition and which ones are fighting to maintain it. People are becoming increasingly wary of the federal government's role in our nation's marijuana policies."
MPP graded the 22 most widely discussed presidential hopefuls based on actions they have taken and statements they have made that indicate their levels of support for ending marijuana prohibition, allowing legal access to medical marijuana, and defending states' rights to adopt their own marijuana policies without interference from the federal government.
"Several states are likely to adopt new approaches to marijuana policy between now and when our next president takes office," Tvert said. "She or he should be willing to work with Congress to ease the tension between state and federal marijuana laws.
"If states are to be our nation's laboratories of democracy, our next president needs to respect their right to experiment," Tvert said. "They should also be committed to basing marijuana laws on science and evidence instead of ideology and politics."
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) received the highest grade, an "A-," based largely on his sponsorship of a medical marijuana bill, his support for reducing marijuana-related penalties, and his strong support for allowing states to regulate marijuana for adult use. Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) received "F"s because they oppose reform efforts and they are the most vocal supporters of enforcing federal prohibition laws in states that have made marijuana legal.
"Some of these guys who tout states' rights, fiscal responsibility, and getting the government out of people's private lives want to use federal tax dollars to punish adults for using marijuana in states that have made it legal," Tvert said. "They say using marijuana is immoral or just too dangerous to allow, but serve alcohol, a more dangerous substance, at their fundraisers. The hypocrisy is astonishing."
MPP will hold a news conference to discuss the voter guide at 12 p.m. MT in front of the Denver City-County Building (1437 Bannock St.), just blocks away from where at least seven Republican presidential candidates will be appearing during this weekend's Western Conservative Summit. Santorum, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former New York Gov. George Pataki, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina, and Dr. Ben Carson are confirmed to attend, according to the event's website.
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The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation's largest marijuana policy organization, has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.