Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Did the voters of New Hampshire just significantly help improve the chances of federal marijuana reform?
The question in the title of this post is reflects my gut reaction to the results of yesterday's New Hampshire primary. On the Democratic side, the big winner was Senator Bernie Sanders, who has been the most supportive of federal marijuana reform of any of the major candidates. On the Republican side, the big loser would seem to have been Governor Chris Christie, who has been the most critical of state marijuana reform of any of the major candidates. Put those results together, especially with the reports that Gov Christie is about to drop out of the race, and I think the question in the title of this post merits a resounding YES.
That said, last week the Iowa caucuses deal a campaign death blow to Rand Paul, the candidate who has been the most active in trying actually to reform federal marijuana law. Thus, I suppose I could have reasonably posted last week that the voters of Iowa had diminished the chance of federal marijuana reform. And, perhaps most importantly, there is very little evidence that any of the candidates' position on marijuana law and policy is motivating any sizeable portion of the electorate.
As the campaign turns to South Carolina and Nevada, it will be interesting to see if marijuana law and policy may start to get a little more attention. Nevada voters are going to be considering a state marijuana legalization initiative in 2016, and I think there is a real possibility that at least a few candidates may get asked a few hard questions about federal marijuana laws while in the Silver State.