Senator Rand Paul began the debate on the subject by stating, “What the American people don’t like about politics is the hypocrisy”, pointing to he fact that at least one of the candidates on stage has admitted to using cannabis in the past.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, knowing Paul was talking about him, said that “40 years ago I smoked marijuana… I am sure that other people might have done it… and may not want to say it in front of 25 million people. My mom’s not happy that I just did.”
Paul responded by saying that; “The people that are going to jail for this are the poor people, often African-Americans, often Hispanics- and yet the rich kids who use drugs, aren’t. I personally think that this is a crime in which the only victim is the individual, and I think America has to take a different attitude.”
Paul continued; “I don’t think the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will see that the states are left to themselves.”
Bush agreed, saying that “What goes on in Colorado, that should be a state decision,” referring to the fact that the state legalized cannabis possession, cultivation and state-licensed distribution in 2012.
During the debate, Paul pointed to the ridiculousness of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s comments that “If you are getting high in Colorado today… enjoy it until January of 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana”, saying that Christie would put parents in jail if they decide to give their sick child cannabis oil.
Christie responded calling it a lie, saying “I’m not against medical marijuana”, pointing to the fact that his state has a medical cannabis program that he’s helped implement. This, of course, isn’t entirely true, as Christie has done everything he can to prevent the implementation of New Jersey’s medical cannabis law which he inherited from the previous governor.
Still, Christie going out of his way to say that he’s not opposed to medical cannabis during a debate watched by over 20 million people is a sign of the times, as is Jeb Bush saying that he would support states that legalize cannabis.
On the Democratic side, both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have stated they would support state rights in regards to cannabis law reform.