The GOP Candidates Failed the Marijuana Test

October 29th 2015

Marijuana, a passionate issue for many voters in the 2016 election, only got a passing mention at Wednesday night's third Republican presidential primary debate.

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The first mention came in the form of a quip from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who joked about buying CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla some of those special "famous Colorado brownies."


The second, and more problematic, came from Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who, when asked whether he would support having the revenue stream that comes from taxing legalized marijuana, repeated one of the more destructive and old-world myths surrounding the substance, before brushing it aside and talking about the previous debate topic.

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"Sending mixed signals to kids about drugs is a disaster," Kasich said. "Drugs are one of the greatest scourge[s] in this country. I've spent five years of my administration working with my team to do a whole sort of things [sic] to try to rein in the problem of overdoses," he said. "We could do a whole show on that."

Kasich's "mixed signals" remark presumably panders to the idea that marijuana is a gateway drug, and that any government directive to legalize it essentially greases up a slippery slope to using other drugs. Marijuana is federally classified as a Schedule 1 substance alongside other drug, incuding heroin or LSD. As ATTN: reported previously, however, research indicates that these myths are patently false.

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This isn't the first time presidential primary candidates have touted false or otherwise outdated information on marijuana. At the second debate last month, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina suggested that marijuana was a gateway drug, and that young people need to be taught that using it should not be treated as frivolously as drinking beer (alcohol is about 114 times more deadly than pot, according to recent research). On the same debate stage, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie made the same "gateway" argument.

According to a recent Gallup poll, a majority in the U.S.—nearly 60 percent—support legal marijuana use. On Wednesday, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) voiced support for the rescheduling of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act—the first presidential primary candidate to do so.

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