No matter where you go, there is no way to avoid it. The 2016 election is upon us, and although you might have been able to avoid the primaries happening throughout the 50 states, as we approach the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, things are heating up. Where you might be able to currently watch your TV without seeing too many ads, in a few weeks time, you’ll be inundated by them, and everywhere you look is going to be filled with endorsements, dramatic music, and ominous undertones across the board.

Politics in America can seem silly at worst or productive at best, but there is no denying their impact, or the great right of citizens to vote on issues as they occur across the country. While it profoundly sucks to sometimes deal with all the pettiness of the American government and the system can seem broken, at least we live in a system that allows us to have a voice, instead of living in one of the many countries where simple things like the possession of cannabis might result in automatic life imprisonment or even, in some cases, death.

During the fall of 2016, voters are going to hear a ton of all the different decisions they must make in regards to local, state, and federal elections. And where, thankfully, in about ten states there will be votes on the ballot considering the legalization of cannabis, here in Colorado we do not have to worry about that decision.

Instead, our focus might be on smaller local bills handling the location or licensing of dispensaries and particularly for us, our biggest concern when it comes to cannabis is going to be the federal election. Because the federal presidential election is going to have an impact on us at the state level, this much is true.

Yes, you could argue that, based on the fact that the federal government is collecting some tax money from dispensaries and their employees, their hands are just as dirty as everyone else’s. Even though they might not be actively contributing to the sale of cannabis, collecting money from its sale means they are turning a blind eye to it. While this would be quite the prolific legal battle to witness, it is likely that the government won’t press the issue on whether or not to try and recriminalize cannabis in Colorado.

With the wrong person in office, however, this does not mean they are just going to sit quietly and accept whatever comes their way. Some of the candidates currently involved in the election can have an impact on the future of cannabis in America whether it is endorsing the substance on a greater federal level or putting in place countless roadblocks against the substance.

Due to the ability for incoming presidents to influence cannabis, we think it matters quite a lot to know who is suggesting what action around cannabis when it comes time for the election. With the craziest sentence I never thought I would type, here are the respective opinions of Hillary Clinton (the most likely Democratic candidate) and Donald Trump, the shoe-in for the Republican nomination, when it comes to cannabis.

Hillary Clinton

Now first it is important to note that Clinton is a lifelong politician. If you review her campaign over the last few months and compare it to her track record as a politician, you are likely to find that she has changed quite a few of her policies quite a few different times. This is kind of unavoidable when you are looking at someone who has been in the spotlight for nearly three decades and has tried to stay relevant as times have transformed around her. Many people hate her for this because it comes across as inauthentic. And really, yes it is a little. But from her perspective, she has been trying to do her job.

And despite claims she is a heartless politician, Clinton has maintained some consistency in her policies at least on the spectrum she tends to address. For the most part, Clinton is always liberal or democratic, especially in regards to prominent social issues.

Cannabis is one of these issues. Although in the past she has aligned with the typical politician’s stance that drugs are bad, in recent years, however she has tried to move more towards the traditional Democratic stance that cannabis is not that bad.

Clinton is not one who will decriminalize the substance on day one of her office and open the floodgates across the country, but she is likely to allow things to become a little less of an issue. She is likely to turn more of a blind eye to the substance and also be more likely to allow the continued progress to keep advancing. While she is still not doing cannabis the favors it deserves and that research shows should be happening, it is good progress in the overall picture. Don’t expect Clinton to light up on national television nor even claim she likes cannabis, but don’t expect her to stop it either.

Donald Trump

Reality show host turned presidential candidate Donald Trump has gone a long way from yelling “You’re fired” at game show contestants and selling steaks to now potentially leading a country.

Across his entire campaign, one of the more interesting pieces of note has stemmed from his seeming lack of policy. Donald is an idea man and he certainly has a lot of ideas about what should happen across the country. Ideas he widely shares no matter whether they seem to make sense or not. What he has failed to do with most of his policies, however, has been to lay out a blueprint for how to enact these policies. He knows what he wants. He just really has not told anyone how to get these things done. In the same vein of thought, cannabis is no exception.

In the past few months, Trump has offered a mixed bag of thoughts when it comes to pot. Sometimes, he is for it. Sometimes he is against it, and his reasons are almost always contradictory. When asked about it, he has both claimed the substance is immoral and dangerous but then in the same breath, he moves to talk about how he knows people who need it and is for medical marijuana.

So, he thinks it is bad, but at the same time, he thinks it is good for some people. But he doesn’t tell you what the difference is. Sometimes he is for it, depending on who he is talking to, and other times he is against it, but it flip-flops and always changes.  

The best bet we have is that he would likely be lax on it. Donald Trump is a businessman first and foremost and seems to appreciate the value of the dollar. As seen with other Republican candidates in the race, he might likely err on the side of letting states make their decisions for the revenue generated. Who knows, though, when Trump has to start providing policy he might even be for legalizing it if someone can convince him it won’t hurt his ratings, but will line the federal government’s pockets with money.

Trump historically tends to be a more liberal candidate despite what he claims, so it will be interesting to see what happens if he does make it to the office. For now, we can count on him to be unintelligible about the issue, but what else do you expect?

*One area to note about Trump is his recent alignment with Chris Christie, who, after demonizing Trump on the campaign trail, has seemed to have a change of heart (see, he wants to not lose any of his standings once the election happen). When he was campaigning for President, Christie went on to directly call us out here in Colorado and state that we should enjoy our cannabis for now because when he got elected, it would be illegal to smoke again. Now, as stated above, when considering the federal involvement with cannabis, it is unlikely the federal government can stop the tide of cannabis. But, if Trump gets elected, one of the likely positions for Christie might be that of Attorney General, a position giving him considerable power over the legalization of cannabis. Trump could always reign him in, and Christie might not even approach this battlefield knowing he could lose, it is still a scary prospect to consider in the future of pot.

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