Ten GOP Presidential Candidates Chosen for Thursday’s Debate; Will They Be Asked About Marijuana Reform?

GOP Debate and MMJ

If you’re following the upcoming 2016 presidential campaign, you already know there are 23 candidates taking a run at the office. Seventeen of the candidates are republican and there is much anticipation for this Thursday’s GOP primary debate.

Just tonight, FOX News announced who made the cut to participate in the debate, a decision based on an average of the five most recent national polls. The participants are: Donald Trump, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Not only will this debate begin to sift out where each candidate stands and how elegantly they convey their positions, it could be very entertaining. No one but the moderators (Chris Wallace, Bret Baier, and Megyn Kelly) knows the questions to be asked at the debate, but there’s been much speculation about the topics that could be discussed.

Donald Trump has already made it clear he wants to talk about immigration and the Iran deal, Obamacare, and Planned Parenthood will most likely be on the agenda. Washington Post columnist Katrina vanden Heuvel suggested that the debate cover inequality and stagnant wages, trade strategy, America’s infrastructure, fair taxes, student debt, climate change, incarceration and police brutality, campaign finance, and the potential conflict between the U.S. and Russia.

These are all great topics. But from our perspective another topic that’s sure to make the list is legalizing marijuana.  It’s been a topic both Republican and Democratic candidates have touched on in the past months.

Recently, the Marijuana Policy Project released a presidential candidate report card for all 23 candidates and graded them based on their support for marijuana policy reform or willingness to allow it to move forward. Of the 10 GOP candidates about to debate, here’s how they scored:

TrumpGrade-300x167Donald Trump – Businessman Donald Trump favored legalizing all drugs in 1990, but has recently said he opposes legalizing and regulating adult use marijuana. He does support legal access to medical cannabis and would likely support states setting their own marijuana policies. “C”

Bush-Grade-300x167Jeb Bush – The Former Florida Governor has always supported the war on drugs and opposes the legalization of marijuana for any purpose. “D”


Walker-Grade-300x167Scott Walker – The current Wisconsin Governor believes that marijuana is a gateway drug and opposes legalizing or decriminalizing it. “D”


HuckabeeGrade-300x167Mike Huckabee – Former Arkansas Governor Huckabee opposed the legalization of marijuana for any purpose, including medical use. “D”


CarsonGrade-300x167Ben Carson –  A neurosurgeon, Dr. Carson has expressed some support for medicinal marijuana use, but has been highly critical of legalizing and regulating cannabis for adult use, citing the gateway drug theory as his reason. “D”


CruzGrade-300x167Ted Cruz – The Texas Senator opposes the legalization of marijuana for adult use but believes states should have the right to establish their own marijuana policies. “C+”


Rubio-Grade-300x167Marco Rubio – The Florida Senator has expressed some support for allowing the use of non-THC forms of medical marijuana, but he opposes the legalization of marijuana for adult use. “D”


PaulGrade-300x167Rand Paul – The Kentucky Senator has always supported states’ rights to establish their own marijuana policies. He also supports decriminalizing or reducing criminal penalties for those arrested for marijuana possession. Paul is also a sponsor of the CARERS Act, a bipartisan bill that would allow states to set their own policies without interference from the federal government and the co-sponsor of a bill that would allow marijuana-related businesses to access the banking system. “A-“

ChristieGrade-300x167Chris Christie – New Jersey’s medical marijuana law was signed by Christie’s predecessor and he adamantly opposes the legalization of marijuana. “F”


KasichGrade-300x167John Kasich – The Ohio Governor totally opposes marijuana legalization, including for medicinal purposes. He has stated that states should probably have the right to establish their own policies. “C-“


Will you be watching Thursday evening? How will you score the candidates?

Learn more about all of the 2016 presidential candidates and their positions on marijuana reform at the Marijuana Policy Project website.

Photos of candidates from the Marijuana Policy Project Website.


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