With an ever-expanding body of research that confirms the vast benefits of marijuana use, it’s no wonder why support for the legalization of weed among the general populous is has grown exponentially.
Despite the fact that some states of heard the calls of their constituents and legalized pot use medicinally, recreationally, or both, the plant still continues to be classified as a Schedule I drug by the United States federal government, the highest classification.
That’s right; according to the US government, a natural plant that has been used and known to offer profound benefits for thousands of years is as high-risk and dangerous as the likes of MDMA (ecstasy), heroin, GHB, LSD, and Quaaludes.
Under federal law, a prosecution of marijuana possession can start as a misdemeanor, but can quickly be deemed a felony offense, and can result in exorbitant fines, civil penalties, incarceration, and/or the denial of federal benefits.
Why is it that despite the proven and undeniable benefits, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government? Like so many issues that pertain to medicine and health care, Big Pharma lobbying is largely to blame, as do the politicians that they pay off to keep in their pockets.
Sadly, there are many pharma-funded anti-weed politicians and fight legalization of marijuana; however, not all of them are. Fortunately, some politicians are honest (at least to some degree) and are advocates for legalizing weed.
If you toke marijuana for medicinal purposes, you enjoy kicking back and relaxing after a long day at work with a joint instead of a beer, or if you simply want to support the people’s right to have access to inexpensive, natural, safe, and effective options, you may be wondering which politicians you should put your support behind.
We’ve compiled a list of some of pro- and anti-weed legalization politicians, which you may find quite surprising. To find out where some of the most famous political personalities stand on the legalizations of marijuana, keep on reading.
Marijuana and the US Federal Government
Before you read through our list of politicians who are in support of legalizing cannabis and who constantly put up roadblocks, you may be wondering why something that has been proven to provide a wealth of benefits is considered as dangerous as drugs like acid and meth, which are undeniably harmful and have caused serious health risks and deaths.
The criminalization of marijuana started way back in the early 1910s. It was then that individual states began passing laws that banned its use, as it was swept into initiatives that aimed to prohibit alcohol use.
Add to that the fact that states were concerned about their lack of the control and regulation on medicinal remedies that contained cannabis. Back then, marijuana was used to treat a variety of ailments, such as pain, migraines, insomnia, and depression.
By the year 1936, marijuana use regulations had been passed by 48 states. In 1937, the passage of the Marijuana Stamp Act, which made it virtually impossible to possess or sell cannabis legally, criminalized weed on a federal level.
Fast forward to the 1970s, President Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) into law in order to classify a drug’s potential risk for abuse and addiction, and established the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to combat drug use and possession throughout the United States.
In the latter part of the 20th century, states started to take note of the benefits of marijuana use, and many began to decriminalize use of the plant. California led the charge with the passage of the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, which permitted the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes for certain aliment; cancer, for example.
Many other states have followed suite and have legalized marijuana use, both medicinally and recreationally. By the end of 2018, a total of 33 states, as well as the District of Columbia, had legalized some form of weed use, which of course, put the states and DC at odds with federal laws, which to this day (at the time of writing), still criminalizes the use and possession of marijuana in all forms
Why is Cannabis Still Criminalized by the Federal Government?
While there are a lot of theories, one of the most widely known reasons why cannabis use is still considered a Schedule I drug by the US federal government has to do with Big Pharma. Put simply, pharmaceutical companies make billions of dollars on the synthetic concoctions (many of which are highly addictive, pose serious adverse health risks, and don’t cure diseases, but rather mask the symptoms, making customers for life).
If marijuana, something that comes from nature (and thus, can’t be patented) that can not only ease symptoms but can actually eradicate numerous ailments, were to be offered to the public at large, than pharmaceutical companies would lose their largest customer base (thus US consumes the largest percentage of pharma products in the world), would suffer major financial losses.
If you’ve even done a little bit of digging into the history of Big Pharma and have seen their track record (Pfizer paid out the largest criminal fines in US history, making them one of the biggest criminal organizations in the world), you know that profits – not people – are their top-priority. As such, these companies lobby the government to halt the legalization of marijuana on a federal level, as do the politicians that they give huge paydays to in order to keep in their pockets.
Now, that’s not to say that all politicians are against the legalization of marijuana. There are several popular politicians who are in support of decriminalizing cannabis use for medicinal purposes, recreational purposes, or both, and that list does seem to be growing. Many have proposed legislation to decriminalize its use, at the state and/or federal level.
Which politicians are anti-cannabis? Which ones are pro-weed? Let’s dive in and take a look at where some widely popular legislators stand on the issue of marijuana use.
List of Biggest Anti-Weed Politicians:
Let’s start off with a list of politicians who are against the use of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, and at the state and/or federal level.
Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS)
Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican from Kansas, is a major advocate for continuing the legalization of cannabis. He was a strong advocate for raiding and arresting patients (seriously ill patients, at that) who were using medicinal marijuana, with the guidance and approval of their health care professionals, and in compliance with state law.
On October 19, 2007, he withdrew from the primary, and prior to doing so, he publicly state that he would continue to criminalize the use of medicinal marijuana by seriously ill individuals.
While Brownback has not voted on any legislation that specifically pertained to medical cannabis, he has certainly made his stance clear. In 2007, Don Murphy, a former Maryland statehouse delegate, asked Senator Brownback whether or not he would put an end to raids that the US federal government was conducting on cancer patients who were using medicinal marijuana. To this inquiry, Brownback replied, “I haven’t supported the legalization of marijuana to be used.”
Governor Jim Gilmore (R-VA)
Jim Gilmore, the former Republican governor of Virginia, and the former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has said that he supports states’ rights; however, he has not publicly stated whether or not he would put an end to federal raids on the ill and their caregivers. To date, he has not co-sponsored or voted in support of any legislation that addressed medical marijuana legalization.
In 2007, Governor Gilmore was asked whether or not he would put an end to raids that are conducted by the federal government on patients who are using cannabis for medicinal purposes. His response to that question was as follows, “I think that kind of approach has to be done under the law of the various states.
If you have states that permit it, I would not expect to see a raid by anybody, but I don’t support it or approve it.” He was then asked if he supported the protection of states’ rights to end the federal raids that were conducted on state medicinal marijuana programs, to which he replied, “I believe that the federal law enforcement authority should support and enforce the federal law. To the extent that they are needed to work with state officials, then they should do that, once again, under the state law, and they should not go beyond that and I’m not aware they are.”
Representative Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Rep. Hunter, a Republican from California, has publicly stated that if he were elected, he would support the DEA raiding and arresting patients who were legally using medicinal marijuana under California state law. He has also voted consistently to oppose legislation that would protect patients who use cannabis medicinally and their caregivers.
In 2007, Rep. Hunter voted against the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment. This amendment would have put an end to the DEA raiding patients and their caregivers who were taking part in California-approved medicinal marijuana programs. In the 5 years it had been voted on, Rep. Hunter did not support this legislation.
Also in 2007, he was asked if he would put an end to federal raids on the constituents who he represents. His response was, “I remember when I was on the select committee on narcotics, everybody who was a heroin addict had first been a marijuana addict, and I would be very careful about pulling back from the outlawing of marijuana. I know it’s been advocated by many, and I’ve seen the people who weigh 65 pounds. So my answer is, I would not legalize marijuana.”
Rep. Hunter was also asked whether or not he would put an end to the raids on his own constituents, to which he said, “If you have a federal law, you have to enforce the law. And that’s my answer.”
Representative Tom Price (R-GA)
When Representative Tom Price, a Republican from Georgia, was selected to serve as the secretary of Health and Human Services by Trump, he made his anti-cannabis stance known. He voted against numerous proposals that were recently put forth to end the legalization, and he has a long record of opposing policy reforms.
Since he was a member of Trump’s cabinet, Rep. Price had a lot of power over medicinal access to marijuana, so his anti-legalization stance was definitely not a good thing for those who support the use of the natural medicine.
Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Marco Rubio, a Republican senator from Florida, has been a consistent anti-weed politician. Despite some wavering and prevarication, Rubio has stood strong against the legalization of marijuana.
According to the Florida senator, he does not think that legalizing cannabis – or that even decriminalizing it – would be the right decision for the United States; in fact, he has said this on several occasions. With that said, it doesn’t seem as if Rubio has the facts about marijuana safety, as he has consistently conflated the dangers of its use with the dangers of alcohol use.
Senator Mark Kirk (R-Illinois)
NORML, a cannabis advocacy policy group, has given Senator Kirk a grade of “F” for his position on the legalization of marijuana. The Illinois senator has voted against every single marijuana-related law that has come his way in the past few years.
What’s worse, it appears that all of the false stereotypes that circulate about cannabis and those who use it, Kirk agrees with. He cite the sensationalist concerns regarding “Kish super-marijuana” that had taken hold of the suburbs of Chicago. Furthermore, the senator stated that he would support a dramatic increase in prison sentences for those who are charged with the possession of marijuana in the state of Illinois.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
As the Senate Majority Leader, McConnell has a big platform on which he can share his views about marijuana use; particularly, his anti-marijuana views. Like so many other politicians who do not support the legalization of cannabis, McConnell is all about standing against it for all reasons.
McConnell is strongly against it, and he believes that the entire movement to decriminalize weed use, both medicinally and recreationally, is a major mistake. Furthermore, McConnell voted against each and every cannabis policy reform bill that came his way in the Senate.
Senator Tom Carper (D-DE)
Senator Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, is a big anti-weed politician. He stands strong against the legalization of its use, both for medicinal and recreational purposes. He has made several public statements against the legalization of weed, and he has voted against several bills that have come his way.
With that said, however, he may be shifting his stance on medicinal marijuana, as the state of Delaware is set to get its very first medical cannabis dispensary.
List of Biggest Pro-Weed Politicians
OK, now that you’ve have had a quick look at some of the most popular politicians who stand firm against the legalization of marijuana (and thus, likely receive a nice chunk of change from Big Pharma), let’s take a look at the politicians who do support decriminalization.
Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT)
Senator Bernie Sanders, a Democrat from Vermont, has publicly admitted that he, himself, used marijuana recreationally in his youth, so it comes as no surprise that he is an advocate for the legalization of weed. In 2015, he introduced the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, which would remove weed’s classification as a Schedule I narcotic to the 115th Congress. Though the bill did not pass, it was introduced twice in Congress.
Furthermore, Senator Sanders has also highlighted a plan to decriminalize cannabis use throughout all 50 United States if he were to be elected President when he ran in the 2020 election. Moreover, he has stood behind politicians who have attempted to decriminalize weed in their own bills.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Serving as the junior US senator from New York since 2009, Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat, who was also one of the many candidates for President in 2020, was a strong advocate for the legalization of marijuana. In 2019, she introduced a bill that called for the legalization of both medicinal and recreational cannabis use. Additionally, Gillibrand supported Senator Cory Booker, who reintroduced the Marijuana Justice Act in 2019.
Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)
New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is a strong advocate for the legalization of marijuana. In 2017, he introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, the first-ever congressional bill that would incorporate the expungement of records, as well as community investment, with cannabis legalization. The bill didn’t pass, but he reintroduced it in 2019, and it was backed by other pro-weed politicians, including then Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
Furthermore, he co-authored the CARERS Act and the REDEEM Act, both bipartisan bills, which detailed the legalization of medicinal marijuana for nonviolent drug offenders, and giving them the chance to clear their records. Though he has never publicly stated his stance on recreational marijuana, Booker has called out politicians who used weed in the past, pointing out that it is still illegal to use by so many people.
Senator Elizabeth Warrant (D-MA)
A Mass. Senator, who also ran for president in 2020, has long been an advocate for the legalization of marijuana. She is largely in support of decriminalizing weed because of the effects that the illegality of the drug has had on minorities.
During her presidential campaign, Senator Warren detailed that the progresses states who have legalized marijuana have made in raising money through cannabis taxes that would be used to improve communities. As per her plan, the legalization of weed and the removal of being punished by the federal government, would also help to equalize race and class disparities in the United States, she claims.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Former Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, has long supported the use of medicinal and recreational marijuana. He has also been very vocal about his support for the use and decriminalization of the Schedule I drug. In 2017, Rohrabacher co-founded the Cannabis Caucus on behalf of the House of Representatives.
He was also an avid supporter of companies that produced medical marijuana, and he became a shareholder of BudTrader, a cannabis company, and in 2019, he became a board member of the company. Rep. Rohrabacher’s advocacy for the legalization of marijuana has helped to drive forward agendas that are aimed at decriminalizing weed for the many years that he was in office.
Former President and Senator Barak Obama (D-IL)
The former president of the United States and a former senator, Barack Obama has been very vocal about his recreational use of cannabis when he was a young teen and a college student. Evidence of his use of the drug has been well-documented in numerous photographs and biographies. While he was president, he supported maintaining state laws that pertained to the sale of cannabis; however, he did not attempt to dismantle those laws.
Obama has referred to marijuana as a discussion that pertains to public health on the same level as alcohol and cigarette use, which helped destigmatize the drug to some degree. Barack Obama’s attempts to destigmatize the use of recreational weed has helped to drive other politicians to make changes to the laws that would hopefully legalize its use.
Representative Ron Paul (R-TX)
Representative Rob Paul, a Republican from Texas, has long been an outspoken advocate for the decriminalization of cannabis. He has voted in favor of legislation that would put an end to the federal raids on medical marijuana patients and their caregivers on a consistent basis.
Paul co-sponsored the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, which would have prevented the DEA from spending tax dollars on raiding or arresting patients who were using medical marijuana in states that permitted its use.
In 2007, Ron Paul was asked whether or not he would put an end to the raids that were being conducted by the federal government, to which he said, “That’s something that the president ca do. I could just say, ‘state law overrides federal law,’ instead of federal law coming down with a heavy hand.
I think that you can do a lot to end that war without congressional changes because we have the authority, especially if you’re a state – states willing to take on some of these issues. So if a state wanted to start using that authority, they would be allowed”.
Joe Biden (D-President)
Welp, we did a whole in-depth investigation into Biden’s track record on cannabis and his complete inaction as of 2022 on any sort of cannabis reform. He still has a few more years in office at the time of this writing (2 years) although his party will lose their supermajority (control of both house and senate) during midterms at which point even the remote possibility of reform will be completely, thoroughly, dead.
Herb CEO Summary
Talking about federal legalization, let alone just decriminalization (which would be a pretty easy first step given that is already at the time of this writing the law in Washington D.C where our government resides) is a tricky subject because American leadership has been pretty crumby about being held accountable to their campaign promises.
Some of it is just how the human brain works, the electorate is quick to forgive and forget when promises aren’t upheld, or they swallow half-baked excuses without question.
Just look at Biden’s campaign in 2020 when he said his administration would “pursue cannabis decriminalization as well as seek expungements for people with prior cannabis convictions“. Once elected however, and with his party in control of both the house and senate, that campaign promise evaporated, like so many others.
The point isn’t to dog on Biden, he’s just the most recent in a long list of political failures that promised logical reform and never followed through. The United States government is an entirely owned subsidiary of corporate America and corporate America is home to big pharma, which stands to profit little from cannabis reform, so here we remain.
I still hold out hope, that one day, we hit rock bottom, the electorate wakes up and realizes that it isn’t left vs. right but instead top vs bottom and we unite to squeeze some accountability out of our “representatives”. If corporations are people then why can’t people be corporations? Shouldn’t are voices be heard as well?
When corporations get behind something, which is slang for, when a corporation gives money to help get a politician elected, as in, a bribe, they are then delivered assumed favorable treatment thereafter. Usually this screws over the average working man and woman, but in some rare instances corporate interest and public interest do overlap, as was the case with hemp cultivation in which big agriculture convinced the federal government to allow cultivation of hemp. Yay I guess?
The point is that sometimes the winds will blow into your sail as opposed to against it. That said we cannot sit in our boat forever just waiting for the wind. We need to mobilize as an electorate and demand action, the country will be so much better off it is pretty much a moral imperative at this point.