By:    Judith Cassel
         Melissa Chapaska

Recreational use of marijuana is definitely a left-wing initiative, but medical marijuana is very much a bi-partisan issue.  For example, the Pennsylvania Senate passed Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana bill by a 42-7 vote, including 23 of the 30 sitting republicans.  The bill went on to pass the House on April 13 with a 149-46 majority vote.  Democratic Governor Tom Wolf signed the medical marijuana bill into law on April 17, 2016.

However, with further medical marijuana legislation proposed on state and federal levels, the political push for medical marijuana is far from over.  Continue reading to learn more about where presidential and Pennsylvania state candidates stand on the issue of medical marijuana.

Presidential Candidates

Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton, supports state-level medical marijuana legalization, saying she is “100 percent in favor of medical uses for marijuana.”  Secretary Clinton has further expressed support for expanding medical marijuana research, including reclassifying marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II in order to facilitate research.

Republican Party candidate, Donald Trump, has also expressed support for state-level medical marijuana legalization. Responding to push back on his position, Trump has explained that he believes medical marijuana helps people with serious medical issues but that regulating marijuana “is bad.”

Third party candidates have been much more vocal about their support for marijuana. Libertarian Party candidate, Gary Johnson, has openly discussed his personal use of medical marijuana and previously served as the CEO of a medical marijuana company.  Noting that marijuana users are “people we associate with every day–law abiding, tax-paying, productive citizens,” Johnson has chastised the War on Drugs, calling for marijuana to be regulated, taxed, and enforced similar to alcohol and tobacco.

Green Party candidate, Jill Stein, supports the nationwide legalization of medical and recreational marijuana. Stein has stated that one of her first actions would be to order the DEA and DOJ to cease prosecutions of state-legal medical marijuana patients and businesses, and to remove marijuana from Schedule I.  Similar to Johnson, Stein believes marijuana should be regulated, taxed, and enforced similar to alcohol and tobacco.

Tight Races in Pennsylvania

Democratic Senate Candidate, Katy McGinty, openly supports access to medical marijuana. McGinty’s opponent, Senator Pat Toomey, has been less vocal regarding his stance on medical marijuana; however, Toomey has applauded efforts to facilitate medical marijuana research.

State attorney general candidates, John Rafferty and Josh Shapiro, have both expressed support for medical marijuana. Notably, as State Senator, Rafferty was one of many state Republicans to vote in favor of Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana bill.

Democratic State Senator Rob Teplitz has openly advocated for medical marijuana reform in Pennsylvania and acted as co-sponsor to the bill that led to the legalization of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania. Teplitz is running against Republican John DiSanto, who, prior to Act 16 becoming law, expressed support for medical marijuana legalization and urged the legislature to not “let this issue get caught up in the same old political fights.”

As November 8th approaches, the issues dividing political parties continue to grow; however, voters should understand that, for many candidates, medical marijuana has become a bi-partisan issue.