With three out of four Americans believing that the legalization of medical cannabis is inevitable, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of politicians share an identical line of thought. As more than half the states across the U.S. now offer medical marijuana as a form of treatment and eight states also permitting recreational use, it’s clear that attitudes towards the drug among those in power is shifting.
Great strides have certainly been accomplished in regards to the legalization of medical cannabis, but recent reports out of Washington, D.C., have indicated that the Trump administration may be planning to clamp down on the drug. Although any imminent action from the Department of Justice has been denied, this news has understandably troubled many citizens and politicians alike.
However, with the majority of Americans — including politicians — supporting the legalization of cannabis and the sheer number of states that currently permit cannabis use for medicinal reasons, it’s hard to imagine laws rolling back to outlaw said use. In fact, a bipartisan group of congressional leaders has recently announced the formation of a Congressional Cannabis Caucus, vowing to sponsor and pass federal laws that protect states’ right on issues related to medical cannabis.
Politicians often shy away from their stance on recreational cannabis, yet a substantial number have often voiced their support of its use for medicinal reasons, and there are some conservative surprises residing within the more typical left-leaning folk. Although the political spectrum is divided in a number of ways, the decriminalization of medical marijuana is an issue that frequently invites a common ground.
Let’s we take a look at some of the more vocal politicians who continually support medical cannabis use along with a few of those who may just surprise you.
Sen. Bernie Sanders
No shock here: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, is a huge supporter of medical cannabis. Sanders has, on more than one occasion, gone on record as saying that he believes tobacco is more harmful to human health than cannabis. He also co-sponsored the State’s Rights to Medical Marijuana Act in 2001, which would have made the use of the drug for medicinal purposes acceptable at a federal level. Sanders also supports recreational cannabis.
Sen. John McCain
Arizona Sen. John McCain is notoriously uncompromising when it comes to policy. Arizona decriminalized medicinal marijuana back in 2010, but since then, McCain surprised everyone by advocating the use of recreational cannabis, cited as saying: “Maybe we should legalize. We’re certainly moving that way as far as marijuana is concerned. I respect the will of the people.” His daughter has also come out in support for full legalization, admitting she had smoked a joint (or two).
Rep. Allen Peake
Rep. Allen Peake is far and away one of the most surprising political figures to support medical cannabis. Not only does he hail from the deeply conservative state of Georgia, but also he’s a Republican and a family man. Although the use of cannabis for either medical or recreational reasons remains outlawed in Georgia, Peake was instrumental in the passing of House Bill 1, which legalized the possession of cannabis oil for people in the state who suffer from a number of sicknesses.
Sen. Maggie Hassan
Although many supporters of medical cannabis also support the legalization of recreational use, Sen. Maggie Hassan is not one of them. Nevertheless, in 2013, the New Hampshire senator signed a bill into law authorizing the implementation of medical cannabis. Upon New Hampshire’s decision to legalize, Hassan stated, “Allowing doctors to provide relief to patients through the use of […] medical marijuana is the compassionate and right policy for the state of New Hampshire.”
Sen. Cory Booker
Sen. Cory Booker’s support of medical cannabis may not be overly surprising unless you take into account the negative attitudes toward the drug in much of New Jersey government. Even though medical cannabis has been legal in the state since 2010, Gov. Chris Christie has made it exceedingly challenging to acquire medical cannabis. Alternatively, Booker believes it to be important; he co-sponsored a federal amendment offering legal protection to patients who receive cannabis treatment.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is a firm supporter of medical cannabis. She has previously related the benefits of marijuana consumption to her own life experience: “I held my father’s hand while he died of cancer, and it’s really painful when you do something like that up close […] if there’s something a physician can prescribe that can help someone who’s suffering, I’m in favor of that.” Warren’s state also decriminalized recreational use of the drug in 2016.
As reports suggest, cannabis is a particularly contentious issue in Washington at the moment. Fortunately, there is no shortage of politicians who understand the benefits that come with medicinal use. Let’s hope those likeminded officials continue to represent the majority of the American people on the matter.