On Friday, November 4th, I voted for a woman for the President of the United States. I have to admit, I got a little choked up when I cast my vote. I thought of my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Goss who told me she thought I could be president. And when I looked at her puzzled she leaned down closer to my face and said "What, you don't think a woman can be President?" Until that moment, I don't think I did.
But voting for Clinton was more than just a vote for the first female president for me, it was a vote toward my health. As a medical cannabis patient, there is no other choice.
I understand wanting to support third party candidates. But this election, if you care about drug policy reform, Clinton is the best option, by far. A vote for Clinton isn't just a vote against Trump, Christie, and Giuliani but a vote for real progress on drug policy.
As a member of Clinton's Health Care Policy Working Group, I spent dozens of hours briefing her team on medical cannabis policy. I know that politics is about pressure--and our movement must keep her feet to the fire--but am confident in her commitment to policy progress. That is what has brought me to volunteer on her campaign in Philadelphia through election day on GOTV efforts. It is why I will hopefully be celebrating her victory on Tuesday night.
And it is why I am writing this blog to my allies in drug policy reform.
If you are still undecided, please consider the following before you cast your vote for President:
Imagine. . .
A president that no longer treats marijuana consumers like criminals!
"I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana." - Hillary Clinton 2016 Democratic Presidential Debate, October 13, 2015
2. A president that support the medical use of marijuana.
"I think what the states are doing right now needs to be supported, and I absolutely support all the states that are moving toward medical marijuana, moving toward -- absolutely -- legalizing it for recreational use."
"What I've said is let's take it off the what's called Schedule I and put it on a lower schedule so that we can actually do research about it. There's some great evidence about what marijuana can do for people who are in cancer treatment, who have other kind of chronic diseases, who are suffering from intense pain. There's great, great anecdotal evidence but I want us to start doing the research." Jimmy Kimmel Live, March 24, 2016
3. A President that supports evolution of marijuana laws.
I do think on the federal level we need to remove marijuana from the Schedule I of drugs, move it to Schedule II, which will permit it to be the basis for medical research because it's important that we learn as much as possible." WBZ NewsRadio, January 25, 2016
"I think that states are the laboratories of democracy, and four states have already taken action to legalize, and it will be important that other states and the federal government take account of how that's being done, what we learn from what they're doing. I think that the states moving forward is appropriate..." WBZ NewsRadio, January 25, 2016
4. A President that Understands Drug Policy Reform
Clinton, gets drug policy reform, her commitment did not just start on the campaign trail, her actions over the past ten years proves her commitment. Check out her policy platforms on criminal justice reform and drug abuse.
5. A President that will help end the crazy global war on drugs we started...
On April 19, 2016, Clinton signed on to a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, stating that the war on drugs has failed and called for a shift in global drug policy from emphasizing criminalization to health and human rights. The letter also stated that governments for far too long have focused resources on suppressing drug use, resulting in the imprisonment of millions of people, mostly poor and ethnic minorities, for non-violent offenses.
Then imagine. . .
President Trump, Attorney General Chris Christie, and Key Whitehouse advisor Giuliani.
. . this is a worse line up for cannabis policy than President Bush, Ashcroft, and ASA Hutchinson.
I can't image trying to implement the new laws voters pass in North Dakota, Montana, Arkansas, Florida, California, Maine, Nevada, Arizona, and Massachusetts much less preserving the laws we currently have. Just a few letters from U.S. Attorneys could put these programs to rest.
"If you're getting high in Colorado today, enjoy it...."As of January 2017, I will enforce the federal laws." - Chris Christie Town-hall N.H. July 2015
"You can accomplish everything you want to accomplish with things other than marijuana, probably better. There are pain medications much superior to marijuana." - Rudy Guiliani July 2007
2. Trump Administration's Cannabis Eraser
Here are some examples of changes in federal policies that the next president could erase:
- Department of Justice: Issued guidance memo by Deputy Attorney General James Cole, instructing U.S. Attorney's to leave compliant medical cannabis programs alone.
- Treasury Department: Issued guidelines to facilitate banking in the marijuana industry.
- Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP): Lifted the Public Health Service (PHS) review on cannabis research projects which had slowed research projects by years and without a doubt has deterred countless researchers.
- Drug Enforcement Administration: DEA ended NIDA's monopoly on cannabis that can be grown in the US for research.
- National Institute of Drug Abuse: Published DrugFacts: Is Marijuana Medicine?
- Food and Drug Administration: Posted Q&A's about medical cannabis FDA and Marijuana: Questions and Answers.
- National Cancer Institute: Published Cannabis and Cannabinoids.
Medical cannabis programs more than doubled under the Obama administration, going from 13 states with medical cannabis laws to 26 states, (plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and Guam) and 16 additional states passed CBD/cannabis laws. Aside from the 2012 referendum in Massachusetts, all of these laws were passed through the state legislature signed by Governors.
This increase was due in part from positive signals from the Obama Administration toward tolerating the state's experiment that created an atmosphere of a "cease-fire" between state programs and federal enforcement. Because the current regulatory situation is a combination of appropriations amendments that must be renewed annually and agency policy memos, the change in Administration will affect the lives of millions of medical cannabis patients.
If you care about cannabis policy than you have to make sure Clinton is the next president. This means voting for her. This means convincing friends, family, and allies that this is not the year for a third party vote.
I am a medical cannabis patient, I am a woman, and I am a voter. I will used my vote to choose the candidate that I know will make the greatest impact for the future of medical cannabis reform and I hope that you do the same.