Will Hillary Clinton Push to Legalize Marijuana In 2016?

By Brent McCluskey 10/17/14

The Democratic frontrunner for president will see a drastically different public attitude toward marijuana this time around.

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The public’s stance on the legalization of marijuana has drastically changed since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first entered politics, when only 16% of the public favored legalization. But now, more than 58% of Americans want the consumption of the drug legalized and many activists feel the 2016 elections will give their movement serious traction.

Clinton has previously denounced the legalization of marijuana, but more recently she’s warmed to the idea. But the future potential president wants to see what the research says before seriously considering legalizing the drug on a national level.

“I’m a big believer in acquiring evidence, and I think we should see what kind of results we get, both from medical marijuana and from recreational marijuana before we make any far-reaching conclusions,” Clinton said. “We need more studies. We need more evidence. And then we can proceed.”

It’s very possible the Democrats will nominate Clinton for president in 2016, but many marijuana activists fear she may be too pragmatic for their cause.

“She is so politically pragmatic,” said Allen St. Pierre, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. “If she has to find herself running against a conservative Republican in 2016, I am fearful, from my own view here, that she is going to tack more to the middle. And the middle in this issue tends to tack more to the conservative side.”

Marijuana activists expect a huge turnout of young people at the polls, and with nearly 70% of 18- to 29-year-old Americans in support of the legalization of marijuana, the odds are in their favor.

“There will certainly be even more on the ballot in 2016,” said Tamar Todd, director of marijuana law and policy and the Drug Policy Alliance. “More voters coming to the polls means more support for marijuana reform and in presidential election years, more voters turn out.”

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.